Leaders applying Hoshin Planning today can leverage some advantages over those who used the method in its early stages of development in the 1950’s and 60’s. At the same time, organizational and market conditions today add some fresh challenges.
Some New Advantages
- Embedded Process Improvement and Project Management: After decades of training and application, there is now a deeper and more broadly distributed understanding of process improvement principles and practices, such as root cause analysis. This can allow for better results and faster deployment of plans once those plans move into project management mode and begin encountering problems and opportunities to accelerate progress.
- Efficiencies Realized from Information Technology: Info Tech has removed some of the administrative strain in the organization of managing the planning documents themselves. Ninety-six percent of working Americans use new communications technologies as part of their daily life, while sixty-two percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Organizations have a built-in architecture now for plan monitoring and management.
Some Fresh Challenges
- Executive Turnover: Executives rotate in and out of organizations with more frequency, often bringing in new priorities and adding to the risk of not fully realizing strategic moves that require a sequence of longer and more difficult interim steps to complete.
- Market Pace: Markets innovate and change faster, putting pressure on the sustainability of strategic plans, even when excellent executives stay for a while.
- M&A: Mergers and acquisitions as tools for growth are used more often, or differently than before. M&A often causes huge changes to missions and strategies, particularly for the acquired organizations.
Both Advantage and Challenge
Peoples’ expectations for interesting work and a lot of participation in decision-making is greater than ever. Such employee empowerment helps drive innovation into planning processes and increases the scrutiny plans get, which is good. But more energized and involved people also raise the bar for the quality of communication and focus leaders are expected to provide to their organizations. Today organizations provide people with more input opportunities, and Hoshin Plans receive broader and more critical evaluation.
A Few Tactics for 2016 and Forward
- Measurement: Keep the measurement dials leaders are watching and adjusting relevant. Link the process improvement community into the Hoshin Planning process right up front. They are the ones who often know about changes in performance data first. 100% of their work should be focused on strategically critical areas.
- Engage the Next Generation of Leaders: Be excellent succession planners, and include rising stars in the Hoshin Planning process
- Complete and Sustain the Plan: Follow through with the full Hoshin Planning process until there is a solid plan, then hold steady with that plan long enough to see results. Invest enough time in the early stages of the plan to make the documentation and the communication to the organization complete.
- Leverage Info Tech: Make the mechanics of the process a no-brainer. People are more likely to keep the engine going if it doesn’t require too much maintenance.
1. U.S. Department of Commerce. “Fact Sheet: Digital Literacy,” May 13, 2011 – 11:10am, http://2010-2014.commerce.gov/news/fact-sheets/2011/05/13/fact-sheet-digital-literacy#_edn4