compassThroughout my lean journey I noticed that practically every organizations mission can be summed up with an age old timeless sentence or variant thereof.

“ABC organization will provide a product or service that meets the needs of our customers while providing profit to our investors and value to our employees. “

That’s clear concise and to the point to everyone in an out of the organization.

Organizational communication over time has evolved into complex labyrinth of legalese, jargon and branding. Mission and vision statements today are more like social manifestos’.
To translate these new manifestos to into actions many large organization rely on Hoshin Kanri a.k.a Policy Deployment.

The goal of policy deployment is to drive the company’s strategic goals throughout the organization. Popularized in Japan during the 1950’s Hoshin Kanri on its face appears pretty logical.

Following is excerpt from Wikipedia ……

“The discipline of hoshin kanri is intended to help an organization:

• Focus on a shared goal.
• Communicate that goal to all leaders.
• Involve all leaders in planning to achieve the goal.
• Hold participants accountable for achieving their part of the plan.

It assumes daily controls and performance measures are in place: “With hoshin kanri… the daily crush of events and quarterly bottom-line pressures do not take precedence over strategic plans; rather, these short-term activities are determined and managed by the plans themselves”

In the past organization simply expressed their yearly goals through memos, meetings then move forward. Now it takes 25 lean tools to express and execute multiple key performance targets. Everyone in these organizations must create an individual goal that must be specific, measurable, and achievable and time bound. The organization now needs to manage review and control literally thousands of individual plans yearly! This labyrinth of communication has become time consuming, conflicting and complex.
I don’t believe Hoshin Kanri developers meant this to occur.


As a lean practitioner I’m always reviewing practices and testing assumptions. If your organization is truly into continuous improvement aren’t many policy deployment activities redundant? So the question remains is HOSHIN KANRI REALLY NECESSARY?

Share your experience with policy deployment. Has your job changed significantly because of it? Are your goals shared, relevant an attainable? Or are the goals just mandated driven from the top and policy deployment the tool used to measure adherence to the targets. I’ve seen anecdotal evidence for both.



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  1. Peter says:

    I’ve always been suspicious of mission statements. Send top management to a weekend golf retreat and they come up with a ground breaking goal (similar to every other company), then it’s back to business as usual. It seems a little like a marketing tool and less like an actual target that everyone can achieve.

    I think it makes sense to have more specific goals. Perhaps one for the year (i.e grow the company by 10%, reduce non-value added waste by 20%, reduce floorspace etc..). Then each department can create smaller metrics that drive the larger one. That’s how you create alignment.

    • David - says:

      Thank you for your input. I’m always suspicious of arbitrary yearly goals. I say arbitrary because there typically isn’t a plan in place to achieve them when it is announced. Think about it. Management flows down a target then request the rank and file to submit a plan on how THEY plan to achieve. This it is very counter intuitive. Backwards even. Deming said leadership should never set a target ahead of the plan. Only management controls the processes and resources necessary for success. Therefore creation of robust processes that drive improvements should be management’s primary goal. The process should drive target not vice versa. Short-term targeted goals will almost always trump and sabotage maturing lean processes.

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