Pot holes are a big problem in my neighborhood this time of year. I ran into one that was more like a sink hole the other day and it messed up my car’s alignment. Now it wants to drift to the right. I can still make it go where I want it to, of course, but it just takes more work than it should. I called my mechanic to ask if this is a big deal and he assured me that bad wheel alignment causes a lot more problems than most people think. When the wheels aren’t perpendicular to the road and parallel to each other, the car is less efficient, likely to wear out faster, and even potentially dangerous. Alignment, it turns out, is a big deal in cars.
It’s a big deal in organizations too. That’s why many use the Hoshin Kanri planning approach and implement software to support it. Hoshin Kanri defines “true north” for the organization. Translated as “strategy deployment” or “direction management,” it is a method used to get the continuous improvement efforts of every member of an organization pointed in the right direction. Kind of like my tires. An investment in Hoshin Kanri helps you:
When the wheels on your car are not aligned, the friction is uneven and there’s a lot more resistance from the road’s surface. That means the car has to work harder and expend more gas. When organizations are not aligned around tactical priorities and strategic goals, human effort (aka fuel) is expended on activities that don’t move the ball in the right direction. Hoshin Kanri software helps to make sure that improvement efforts are frictionless, and that no effort is wasted.
Replacing the tires on your car is inconvenient and expensive. If your wheels are out of alignment, you can expect to do it frequently because they will soon become bald on one side due to that extra friction. That extra resistance takes a toll on employees as well; businesses lose $11 billion a year to employee turnover. One of the top 10 reasons employees leave is that they don’t understand how their work contributes to the organization’s business goals, a classic sign of misalignment. When Hoshin Kanri software is in place, workers know how their work relates to the organization's strategic objectives and they can track their own impact.
Survive Rough Roads
Under good road conditions, my badly aligned wheels are unlikely to be a big deal, but if I hit an icy patch, I’m more likely to cause a collision. Organizational alignment, like wheel alignment, is necessary if you want to be able to get to your desired destination, even if conditions become difficult. When everyone understands and measures progress toward the desired outcomes, they make better decisions even when the going gets tough.
I’ll be headed to the Toyota dealer tomorrow. I’d rather spend what it takes to get my wheels aligned than to shell out a lot more for gas, new tires, and dent repair. You can’t exactly put your company in the shop, but you can provide the structure necessary to keep everyone aligned. Hoshin Kanri software is a great place to start.