Hoshin Planning

Hoshin Planning

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, signaling the attainment of President John F. Kennedy's vision to set a man on the Moon and return him safely to earth. The accomplishment required nearly a decade of research and experimentation by NASA since it worked to get over one technical challenge to another: a chance to dock two ships together in space, the design of the Lunar Excursion Module, and also the inherent difficulties of manned space travel. Each of these breakthroughs not merely made the Apollo moon missions possible, but additionally enabled a number of other excursions to space.

But imagine if President Kennedy have been less ambitious? Let's say his vision had been to transmit an unmanned "rover" for the Moon, or what if he hadn't even thought it possible to get to the moon? How many of these breakthroughs would exist today? Needless to say, it's hard to state with certainty, only one thing is made for sure--if mankind had never set a target to land about the moon, we never would have gotten there.

Where you go, Bam !

So that you can send you to the moon, the scientists at NASA had to deconstruct the President's lofty vision into smaller, attainable objectives. In other words, they determined what would must be set up to produce Kennedy's vision a real possibility, and "worked backwards from perfect" to obtain there.

The idea of working backwards from perfect isn't new. You could be familiar with the TRIZ notion of the perfect Result, or Stephen Covey's edict to "begin using the result in mind." Actually, around this time of the season, a lot of us make New Year's resolutions to become thinner, or even more productive, or spend more time with relatives and buddies. You are able to bet that the ones who actually keep their resolutions are those who envision the best end state, and break their resolutions into bite-sized goals which they try to achieve in the realistic timeframe.

Exactly the same concept pertains to organizations in addition to their strategic goals. When you've got a vision--an idealized concept of your company's mission--you can break that vision on to specific strategies that will assist you get from where you are today to in which you want to be in 2, five, even 10 years. And there is one approach which will help you need to do this much better than some other: Hoshin Planning.

What exactly is Hoshin Planning?

To put it simply, Hoshin Planning is really a strategic planning approach which uses Hoshin Kanri methods. Translated from Japanese, Ho Shin Kan Ri means "shining metal pointing direction"--which leads to an image of your compass, the perfect tool to obtain where you're heading!

Essentially, Hoshin Planning offers a proactive vision of the organization's future, and encourages movement toward that goal. Many successful businesses including Toyota, Procter & Gamble and Intel have used Hoshin Intending to design a perfect state for organizations. By concentrating on creating what they need (the vision), they de-emphasize building about what they've got and, sometimes, whatever they don't want.

At the bottom of Hoshin Planning may be the notion when we just pay attention to improving the present, then all we'll ever attain can be a slightly better state of the we currently have. Think it is like this: if you are seem to obtain a new house, can you concentrate on everything you do not like concerning your current residence? Or can you list the qualities you need in your dream house? Should you choose rogues, you are much more prone to get a house you love!

In a organizational sense, concentrating on creating the perfect future means going beyond incremental improvements to existing processes and systems, many of which may not help you attain your strategic objectives. Hoshin Planning can help you dedicate resources to the people processes and systems that can make it easy for you to achieve your eyesight.

The Hoshin Difference

Along with working backwards from perfect, Hoshin Planning offers a number of other advantages over traditional Management by Objectives (MBO) planning methods. MBO plans are typically driven from your top-down without much input from the remaining organization. Consequently, the "plan" could be unrealistic, too broad, or not actionable for your average employee. Usually department heads are attributed for meeting yearly objectives linked with their specific areas. It's wise a disjointed pair of goals that could move the needle for some metrics, but likely will not move the business very far toward its vision (assuming it even has one).

On the other hand, Hoshin Planning concentrates on systems and techniques, with cross-functional accountability that will depend around the success from the process, not a specific person. Objectives are distributed to employees from all of levels of the organization using "catchball," a participative approach that enhances the workability from the plan and increases participation and buy-in. Most significantly, the plan is made around a unified vision, meaning every strategic objective moves the organization nearer to achieving its vision. Consequently, everyone focuses their efforts on the "vital few" goals as opposed to the "trivial many."


The good thing is always that Hoshin Planning provides a strategic planning methodology that actually works for any organization through the industry. The Hoshin approach is systematic, yet encourages creativity; it's scalable, yet holds everyone in charge of the planning process and also the results. Ultimately, Hoshin Planning won't help you predict the long run. However it will help you produce the future you envision for the organization.

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