What is Hoshin Kanri?

What is Hoshin Kanri?

- in Business

If you’re involved in continuous improvement in your business or workplace, there’s a chance you may have heard of the term Hoshin Kanri. But have you ever wondered exactly what is Hoshin Kanri?

Hoshin Kanri is a Lean Management tool, and literally translates as ‘hoshin – direction’ and ‘kanri – administration’. However, used together they become even more explanatory, meaning “how do we ensure we are going the right way” or “how do we manage our direction”.

What is Hoshin Kanri Planning?

Hoshin Kanri is a method whereby the vision, direction and objectives of a business and it’s stakeholders are defined and reviewed.

Hoshin Planning is a 7 step process that is a summary of the Hoshin Kanri method :-

  1. Establish Organizational Vision
  2. Develop Breakthrough Objectives
  3. Develop Annual Objectives
  4. Deploy Annual Objectives
  5. Implement Annual Objectives
  6. Monthly Review
  7. Annual Review

With this method, organisational goals can be developed from the leadership and propagated throughout the company. Pivotal to the process is the breaking down of annual goals into monthly goals, and monitoring by monthly reviews.

Continuous improvement in Hoshin Kanri

In addition to being a top-down planning method, Hoshin Kanri also incorporates Continuous Improvement methodologies such as Catchball and PDCA Tools


The essence of Hoshin Kanri Catchball is that the process is not just executed from the top down, but rather a mutually agreed set of goals between a manager and subordinate.

Agreed goals that have been jointly developed, rather than enforced or delegated, have been proven to be more enthusiastically and positively approached, leading the higher success rates.

PDCA Tools

A  continuous quality improvement cycle – often called the Deming Cycle – PDCA consists of four steps :-

  1. Plan
  2. Do
  3. Check
  4. Act

Hoshin Kanri, when implemented effectively, creates alignment and focus throughout a company and brings strategy and execution together for positive results.

Image result for Hoshin Kanri

How to implement Hoshin Kanri?

As always, where to start is the first item to address in any process. With Hoshin Kanri, this usually takes the form of the Hoshin Kanri X Matrix, and is essential for effective planning.

However, for successful execution of Hoshin Kanri, other methods such as Portfolio Kanban has been proven to be successful.

Portfolio Kanban

Portfolio Kanban is a visual management tool which improves an organisation’s ability using a Kanban Board and Kanban Cards. The benefits of Portfolio Kanban are clarity, limiting work in progress and improving flow management on a  system level.

Using tools such as Kanbanize assist in the application of Portfolio Kanban by showing visual goals and completion, thus eliminating the need of status meetings, reducing human errors and avoiding reporting bias.

Forecasting also becomes more powerful, using Monte Carlo simulations about how much of a particular project’s work could be completed by a certain time. Annual reviews can then be undertaken quicker, even monthly, resulting a faster upwards cascade of information upwards.

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