Monday, June 14, 2010

Hoshin Kanri

After postings of a more philosophical nature, let us delve into the nuts and bolts of IT process improvement with Hoshin Kanri. In Japanese, “hoshin” means shining metal, compass, or pointing the direction and “kanri” means management or control. The name describes the alignment an organization towards accomplishing a goal through effective planning.

Hoshin Kanri links the high level executive goals and objectives to increasingly lower levels of management and activities until the lowest level activity is aligned to the organization’s overall objectives.

At the beginning of the Hoshin Planning process, top management sets the overall vision and the annual high-level policies and targets for the company. At each level moving downward, managers and employees participate in the definition—from the overall vision and their annual targets—of the strategy and detailed action plan they will use to attain their targets. They also define the measures that will be used to demonstrate that they have successfully achieved their targets. Then, targets, in turn are passed on to the next level down. Regular reviews take place to identify progress and problems, and to initiate corrective action.

The levels of activity from high to low are:

  • Corporate level objectives

  • Service level Objectives

  • Functional Objectives

  • Team Objectives

  • Specific Activities, Goals & Resources

The advantage of this type of setup is that not only is the organization aligned towards high level objective but it is also very well positioned to quickly make adjustments to change in strategy. That is, a higher degree of agility and ability to rapidly change will be introduced. A better setup of accountability will also exist with Hoshin Kanri.

Hoshin Kanri is another tactical advantage an organization can give itself. It is not an end-all or be-all but it can help optimize things further. The interested reader can find out more about this technique online.

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