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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
How does Hoshin Kanri complement or conflict with other strategic planning methodologies like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)?


This article provides a detailed response to: How does Hoshin Kanri complement or conflict with other strategic planning methodologies like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)? For a comprehensive understanding of Hoshin Kanri, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Hoshin Kanri best practice resources.

TLDR Hoshin Kanri and OKRs complement each other in aligning long-term Strategic Planning with short-term goals through mutual focus on alignment, execution, and measurable outcomes, despite potential conflicts in cultural underpinnings and review cycles.

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Hoshin Kanri, also known as Policy Deployment, is a methodical approach to Strategic Planning and Management developed in Japan. It aims to ensure that an organization's strategic goals are consistently reflected in the priorities and actions at every level of the organization. On the other hand, Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a framework designed to set and communicate clear, measurable goals and results throughout an organization. Both methodologies aim to bridge the gap between strategy and execution but do so in slightly different ways. Understanding how Hoshin Kanri complements or conflicts with OKRs can provide valuable insights for organizations striving to enhance their strategic planning processes.

Complementary Aspects of Hoshin Kanri and OKRs

At their core, both Hoshin Kanri and OKRs are about alignment and execution. Hoshin Kanri focuses on aligning the entire organization's efforts towards achieving breakthrough objectives over a three-to-five-year horizon, while OKRs typically focus on shorter-term goals, usually quarterly or annually. This difference in time horizons means the two methodologies can complement each other, with Hoshin Kanri setting the long-term direction and OKRs translating these into more immediate actions and measurable outcomes.

Hoshin Kanri's emphasis on a "catchball" process—where goals and plans are passed back and forth between levels of management to ensure alignment and buy-in—can complement the OKRs focus on transparency and engagement. This iterative dialogue ensures that strategic objectives are understood and refined at all levels, enhancing the clarity and relevance of OKRs set by various teams. Moreover, the rigorous review and revision cycles in Hoshin Kanri can help in continually refining OKRs to ensure they remain aligned with strategic objectives.

Another complementary aspect is how both methodologies approach metrics. Hoshin Kanri uses Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure progress towards strategic objectives, while OKRs use Key Results. Both focus on measurable outcomes but from slightly different angles. Integrating the two can provide a more nuanced view of performance, combining long-term strategic progress with short-term operational achievements.

Learn more about Hoshin Kanri Key Performance Indicators

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Potential Conflicts between Hoshin Kanri and OKRs

While Hoshin Kanri and OKRs can complement each other, there are potential areas of conflict. One such area is the risk of overcomplication and confusion arising from using two distinct frameworks simultaneously. Organizations might struggle to differentiate between the strategic objectives set through Hoshin Kanri and the more immediate goals outlined in OKRs. This can lead to a dilution of focus, with employees unclear about which priorities are most important. To mitigate this, clear communication and training are essential to help everyone understand how the two methodologies fit together and support one another.

Another potential conflict is the difference in cultural underpinnings between the two methodologies. Hoshin Kanri, with its roots in Japanese management culture, places a strong emphasis on consensus and collective responsibility. In contrast, OKRs, which originated in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, often emphasize individual accountability and agility. These cultural differences can lead to tensions in how goals are set, pursued, and adjusted. Organizations adopting both frameworks need to be mindful of these differences and work to foster a culture that can accommodate both approaches.

The cadence of review and revision cycles in Hoshin Kanri and OKRs can also present challenges. Hoshin Kanri typically involves annual planning cycles with monthly or quarterly reviews, while OKRs are set and reviewed on a quarterly or even monthly basis. This discrepancy can lead to misalignments in timing, with OKRs potentially changing before they can have a meaningful impact on the longer-term strategic objectives of Hoshin Kanri. Organizations need to carefully coordinate the timing of these cycles to ensure they reinforce rather than undermine each other.

Real-World Examples and Insights

Several leading organizations have successfully integrated Hoshin Kanri and OKRs to drive their strategic planning and execution. For instance, a global technology company used Hoshin Kanri to set its five-year strategic direction, focusing on innovation and market expansion. It then used OKRs to break down these long-term goals into quarterly objectives for its various departments, ensuring that every team's efforts were aligned with the company's strategic vision. This dual approach helped the company to not only achieve its strategic goals but also to adapt quickly to market changes, demonstrating the flexibility and resilience of combining Hoshin Kanri and OKRs.

Another example comes from the healthcare sector, where a leading hospital implemented Hoshin Kanri to improve patient care and operational efficiency over a three-year period. By using OKRs at the departmental level, the hospital could translate these strategic objectives into specific, measurable goals for each team, from nursing to administration to support services. This integrated approach led to significant improvements in patient satisfaction scores and operational performance, showcasing the power of aligning long-term strategic planning with short-term operational goals.

In conclusion, while Hoshin Kanri and OKRs have their differences, they can be highly complementary when implemented with care and consideration. Organizations that successfully integrate these methodologies can benefit from a strategic planning process that is both visionary and actionable, combining long-term ambition with short-term agility. By focusing on alignment, communication, and cultural integration, companies can leverage the strengths of both Hoshin Kanri and OKRs to drive superior performance and achieve their strategic objectives.

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Best Practices in Hoshin Kanri

Here are best practices relevant to Hoshin Kanri from the Flevy Marketplace. View all our Hoshin Kanri materials here.

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Explore all of our best practices in: Hoshin Kanri

Hoshin Kanri Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Hoshin Kanri, take a look at these case studies.

Global Expansion Strategy for Cosmetic Brand in Asian Markets

Scenario: A renowned cosmetic brand facing stagnation in its traditional markets is looking to implement a hoshin kanri approach to navigate the complexities of expanding into the burgeoning Asian beauty market.

Read Full Case Study

Operational Excellence Strategy for a Boutique Hotel Chain

Scenario: A boutique hotel chain is grappling with operational inefficiencies and a declining guest satisfaction score, utilizing Hoshin Planning to address these strategic challenges.

Read Full Case Study

Ecommerce Policy Deployment Optimization Initiative

Scenario: An ecommerce firm specializing in bespoke furniture has seen a rapid expansion in market demand, leading to a 200% increase in product range and a similarly scaled growth in workforce.

Read Full Case Study

Revitalizing Hoshin Kanri for Operational Efficiency

Scenario: A global manufacturing firm has been struggling with operational inefficiencies linked to its Hoshin Kanri strategic planning process.

Read Full Case Study

Policy Deployment Optimization for Growing Electronics Manufacturer

Scenario: A fast-growing electronics manufacturing company in Asia is struggling with effective policy deployment despite having robust policy guidelines.

Read Full Case Study

Policy Deployment Enhancement in Life Sciences

Scenario: The organization is a mid-sized biotechnology company specializing in the development of novel therapeutics.

Read Full Case Study

Explore all Flevy Management Case Studies

Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

How is artificial intelligence (AI) influencing the execution and monitoring of Hoshin Planning?
AI is revolutionizing Hoshin Planning by leveraging predictive analytics for strategic execution, enhancing real-time monitoring and performance management, and facilitating adaptive learning for continuous improvement, making organizations more agile and effective in achieving strategic goals. [Read full explanation]
What role does organizational culture play in the successful adoption of Hoshin Kanri, and how can resistance to change be managed?
Organizational culture is crucial for the successful adoption of Hoshin Kanri, emphasizing the need for transparency, continuous improvement, and employee engagement, while managing resistance to change involves clear communication, involvement, and adequate support to align with strategic objectives. [Read full explanation]
What metrics or KPIs are most effective in measuring the success of Hoshin Kanri implementation?
The success of Hoshin Kanri implementation is best measured through KPIs and metrics that track strategic alignment, employee engagement, and process efficiency, reflecting the achievement of strategic goals, workforce commitment, and operational improvements. [Read full explanation]
In the context of increasing emphasis on sustainability, how can Hoshin Kanri be used to align organizational goals with environmental and social governance (ESG) objectives?
Hoshin Kanri facilitates the integration of ESG objectives into organizational strategic goals through structured planning, leadership engagement, and operationalization, enhancing long-term business success and sustainability. [Read full explanation]
How is artificial intelligence being integrated into the Hoshin Kanri process to predict and align strategic objectives more accurately?
AI integration into the Hoshin Kanri process significantly evolves Strategic Planning by improving predictive capabilities, automating data analysis, and enabling dynamic strategic alignment, offering a competitive edge in modern business. [Read full explanation]
What strategies can be employed to overcome resistance to change during the Policy Deployment process?
To overcome resistance in Policy Deployment, engage stakeholders early, communicate the change's rationale, and provide training and support, fostering Operational Excellence and Strategic Planning. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Hoshin Kanri Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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