As a product manager, you’re always looking for ways to improve your efficiency and growth. Most people tend to approach this by creating a strategic plan based on accurate data. This can be an effective method, however, many people tend to overlook the value of employee buy-in.
Oftentimes, employees don’t understand how their work contributes to the company’s mission. As a result, motivation and productivity can begin to slip. This can then be compounded by the fact that upper management often makes decisions without any employee feedback.
To combat this, the Hoshin Kanri method aims to create an effective strategy that defines company objectives and a path to get there. In this article, you’ll learn what the Hoshin Kanri method is, its steps, and how to implement it within your product team.
Hoshin Kanri is a strategic planning method for creating long-term goals that opens a path for continual improvement. It accomplishes this by involving employees in the strategic planning process. Hoshin Kanri also lets employees understand how their work connects with strategic objectives.
Hoshin Kanri is an essential tool for lean management. The idea behind it is that employees will feel greater ownership over their work if they understand how it affects company objectives.
To facilitate this, Hoshin Kanri creates open feedback loops between all levels of employees, allowing executives to receive feedback about their strategic plans.
The Hoshin Kanri matrix, sometimes referred to as the X-Matric, helps you to implement Hoshin Kanri easily within your team. At first glance, the one-page visual looks complicated. However, once you learn how to read it, the matrix is a useful way to understand and communicate plans to employees.
An employee can look at the Hoshin Kanri matrix and understand how their individual work contributes to the bigger picture. The Hoshin Kanri matrix has 5 sections:
The dots between the sections reveal what sections connect. This can help an employee identify how their daily work fits the annual objectives. The matrix also uses dots to show which resources are responsible for improvement targets.
The Hoskin Kanti matrix provides a number of benefits for a product team as it:
The primary use of the Hoshin Kanri matrix is to provide alignment between your strategy and execution, but it doesn’t help you implement the work. Management will need to use different implementation strategies for the execution plan.
Hoshin Kanri stands out from other strategic tools by transforming strategy into daily execution. The method also leaves space for you to combine other strategic tools to create a framework specific to your use case.
Let’s review a breakdown of the seven-step Hoshin Kanri process:
The first step is to examine your organization’s mission statement, values, and vision. You should have a clear understanding of why your organization exists. Then your organization can assess policies and procedures to determine what may need improvement.
Breakthrough objectives are a crucial part of the Hoshin Kanri process. You can view them as ambitious goals you want to achieve in the next three to five years. The idea behind breakthrough objectives is to challenge your organization to grow in a new direction.
Some examples of breakthrough objectives might include launching new products or targeting a new market. Whatever the objectives are, you should feel like you’re branching out to obtain growth.
When creating breakthrough objectives, you should focus on what’s strategically important. It’s easy to make too many goals that aren’t achievable in the long term. Hone in on three to five breakthrough objectives that can help you reach your organization’s mission.
The next step is to break down the breakthrough objectives into annual goals. This makes the big goal seem more manageable when divided into smaller goals.
You should consider what goals are vital for staying on track with your breakthrough objectives.
Creating organizational goals is one thing, but it’s another task altogether for departments and individual employees to act on them. They need more guidance and direction on what work they need to do to reach the breakthrough objectives.
The annual objectives need to be broken down into smaller daily goals for employees. Every employee should know exactly what they contribute to achieve the annual objectives.
This step is where the Hoshin Kanri matrix really shines. The matrix provides a visual aid for the deployment of annual objectives. It also shares detailed plans and prioritizes tasks for employees.
At this point, it’s time to put your plan into action. Employees and departments should start working on their smaller goals and projects, but you’ll need to develop ways to track and measure progress. To do this, you may want to consider strategies like DMAIC or PDSA.
Hoshin Kanri involves active management. To run it well, you need to implement a way of receiving continuous feedback from employees. Monthly performance reviews ensure that employees are accountable for their work and gives individuals a space to express their opinions.
Without periodic performance reviews, Hoshin Kanri can’t adapt to changes and won’t rise to its full potential.
Along with monthly reviews, Hoshin Kanri also expects annual reviews. While reviewing the events of the past year, evaluate if your organization is on schedule. You may also consider what adjustments may need to happen to reach its breakthrough goals.
The goal of Hoshin Kanri is to provide a path for continuous improvement. As your organization focuses on improving, it’ll find ways to grow and succeed.
However, implementing Hoshin Kanri is difficult if you don’t have all your employees on board with the idea. It’s crucial to ensure employees receive training on the Hoshin Kanri method and know how it can improve their workflows.
The foundation of Hoshin Kanri is the catchball communication tool. An open feedback loop needs to continually run if you want to succeed. You need to ensure that upper management receives feedback from employees.
There should also be frequent reviews to share progress and revisit any issues. Without this feedback loop, employees will become less engaged with the strategy..
Choose breakthrough objectives that are meaningful to your team. It will help them rally behind the company’s mission, especially if they have a say in creating it.
Hoshin Kanri is a powerful method to engage an entire organization and align employees with the company mission. It bridges the gap between strategy and execution. It may seem like a goal-setting process, but Hoshin Kanri helps create a work environment that focuses on improvement and accountability.
Ensure employees understand how their work creates a lasting impact. By doing this, the Hoshin Kanri method can help a company reach its breakthrough objectives.
Featured image source: IconScout
LogRocket identifies friction points in the user experience so you can make informed decisions about product and design changes that must happen to hit your goals.
With LogRocket, you can understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the changes that need to be made. LogRocket simplifies workflows by allowing Engineering, Product, UX, and Design teams to work from the same data as you, eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done.
Get your teams on the same page — try LogRocket today.
Sanjay Modi discusses his role in leading a website security product portfolio through drastically changing customer needs.
The acronym SDK stands for software development kit. It contains platform-specific tools to run and develop software.
If you think about some of the businesses that market familiarity as a selling point, you actually don’t get negative vibes from them at all.