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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Hoshin Kanri Implementation for a Rapidly Growing Tech Firm

Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Hoshin Kanri to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: A tech firm in North America has experienced exponential growth in the past year, doubling its staff size and revenues.

However, the company's strategic planning and execution, guided by Hoshin Kanri, have not kept pace with this growth. As a result, the organization is grappling with misalignment between strategic goals and daily operations, leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities.

The tech firm's situation suggests a couple of hypotheses. First, the company might lack an effective Hoshin Kanri process to translate its strategic goals into actionable plans. Secondly, the organization's rapid growth might have led to a breakdown in communication and alignment across different levels of the organization.


A 5-phase approach to Hoshin Kanri would be suitable for the tech firm. The phases include: 1) Develop Vision, where the company's long-term strategic goals are defined; 2) Develop Strategies, where the strategies to achieve the vision are identified; 3) Develop Tactics, where the strategies are converted into actionable plans; 4) Implement Plans, where the plans are executed; and 5) Review and Adjust, where the outcomes are reviewed and adjustments are made as necessary. Each phase requires in-depth analysis, coordination between different organizational levels, and clear communication.

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For effective implementation, take a look at these Hoshin Kanri best practices:

Strategic Planning: Hoshin Kanri (Hoshin Planning) (153-slide PowerPoint deck and supporting ZIP)
Strategic Planning: A3 Hoshin Planning Process (113-slide PowerPoint deck and supporting Excel workbook)
Strategic Planning - Hoshin Policy Deployment (138-slide PowerPoint deck and supporting Excel workbook)
Strategic Planning: Hoshin Kanri (Hoshin Planning Process) (167-slide PowerPoint deck and supporting Excel workbook)
Templates for Hoshin Kanri Strategy Deployment (Excel workbook)
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Key Considerations

The tech firm's CEO might be concerned about the timeline, the necessary resources, and the potential disruption to ongoing operations. The implementation of the Hoshin Kanri methodology could take several months and would require significant commitment from all levels of the organization. However, the benefits of improved strategic alignment and operational efficiency would outweigh the initial investment. Possible implementation challenges include resistance to change, communication breakdowns, and resource constraints. The organization can mitigate these challenges by communicating the benefits of the Hoshin Kanri methodology, providing adequate training, and allocating sufficient resources.

The expected business outcomes include improved strategic alignment, increased operational efficiency, and enhanced organizational agility. The tech firm can measure the success of the Hoshin Kanri implementation through Key Performance Indicators such as the percentage of strategic goals achieved, the level of alignment between different organizational levels, and the efficiency of operations.

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Sample Deliverables

  • Hoshin Kanri Framework (PowerPoint)
  • Strategic Plan (MS Word)
  • Operational Plan (Excel)
  • Performance Dashboard (Excel)
  • Implementation Report (MS Word)

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Case Studies

Companies like Toyota and Intel have successfully implemented Hoshin Kanri to align their strategic goals with daily operations, leading to increased operational efficiency and improved performance.

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Additional Insights

The tech firm should consider involving all levels of the organization in the Hoshin Kanri process to ensure alignment and buy-in. The company should also establish a robust communication system to facilitate the flow of information across different organizational levels. Furthermore, the organization should consider leveraging technology to automate and streamline the Hoshin Kanri process.

Alignment Across Organizational Levels

One potential concern is how the Hoshin Kanri methodology maintains alignment across different organizational levels. Involving all levels in the strategic planning process and facilitating a two-way flow of information are crucial. More importantly, the strategies and tactics should be translated into clear, measurable objectives at each level. This ensures that everyone understands their role in achieving the strategic goals and can track their progress.

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Role of Technology

Another query could revolve around the role of technology in implementing Hoshin Kanri. Leveraging technology—like strategic planning software—can automate certain aspects of the Hoshin Kanri process. It simplifies communication, makes it easier to track progress, and promotes transparency across the organization. By digitalizing the process, you can readily review and adjust plans, making the methodology dynamic, responsive, and effective.

Handling Resistance to Change

Overcoming resistance to change within the organization is invariably a challenge when introducing new methodologies. Conveying the benefits of Hoshin Kanri, providing adequate training, and emphasizing the importance of everyone’s participation in its successful implementation can alleviate resistance. Regularly acknowledging and rewarding contributions to the process can also be useful in driving engagement and acceptance.

Hoshin Kanri Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Hoshin Kanri. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Hoshin Kanri subject matter experts.

Resource Allocation

Lastly, questions may arise concerning resource allocation for Hoshin Kanri implementation. While specific requirements will vary, resource allocation is not solely about setting aside funds. The process braiding together time, effort, and commitment from all levels of the organization towards strategic planning are critical aspects of resource allocation. Once Hoshin Kanri is fully adopted, it should form part of the regular operational rhythms and need minimal extra resources.

Ensuring Effective Communication

Effective communication is paramount in the successful implementation of Hoshin Kanri. The tech firm must develop a communication plan that addresses the frequency, channels, and content of communication to ensure clarity and consistency. Regular updates, feedback loops, and open forums for discussion will help maintain alignment and address any concerns promptly. This communication strategy must be adaptable to accommodate the needs of different stakeholders within the organization.

Additionally, the company should leverage internal communication platforms to facilitate discussions and share progress on strategic initiatives. The use of intranets, newsletters, and regular team meetings can keep everyone informed and engaged. It is also important to recognize and celebrate milestones to maintain momentum and reinforce the importance of the Hoshin Kanri process to the company's success.

Measuring and Reporting Progress

Executives will want to know how the company plans to measure and report progress. It is essential to establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with strategic objectives and provide a clear picture of performance. The tech firm could measure progress through KPIs such as customer satisfaction, market share growth, and innovation rate. Regular reporting against these KPIs provides transparency and allows for course correction as needed.

Performance dashboards can be created to visualize progress and facilitate real-time monitoring of KPIs. These dashboards can be integrated into the company's existing business intelligence systems to ensure accessibility and ease of use. Regular review meetings can be scheduled to discuss these reports, allowing the leadership team to make informed decisions and adjust strategies as necessary.

Learn more about Customer Satisfaction Business Intelligence Leadership

Training and Support Systems

When implementing a new strategic methodology like Hoshin Kanri, it is crucial to have a comprehensive training and support system in place. Executives will inquire about the approach to training staff and ensuring they have the necessary skills to contribute effectively. The tech firm should develop a training program tailored to different roles within the organization, which could include workshops, e-learning modules, and hands-on sessions with experienced practitioners.

Support systems, such as a dedicated Hoshin Kanri team or office, can provide ongoing assistance and guidance. This team can serve as a resource for best practices, troubleshooting, and maintaining the integrity of the Hoshin Kanri process. By investing in training and support, the tech firm can foster a culture of continuous improvement and strategic thinking.

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Adapting to Organizational Culture

The cultural fit of the Hoshin Kanri methodology within the organization is another area of executive concern. The tech firm's culture must be conducive to the principles of Hoshin Kanri, which emphasize collaboration, long-term thinking, and continuous improvement. The leadership team should model these behaviors and encourage them throughout the organization.

Moreover, the organization should assess its current culture and identify any aspects that may hinder the adoption of Hoshin Kanri. Change management initiatives can address these areas, helping to create an environment where Hoshin Kanri can thrive. Celebrating small wins and providing visible examples of how the methodology is benefiting the organization can help reinforce the desired cultural shift.

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Integrating Hoshin Kanri with Existing Processes

Integrating Hoshin Kanri with existing processes is a practical concern for executives. The methodology should not operate in isolation but rather be woven into the fabric of existing business processes. This integration ensures that Hoshin Kanri becomes a natural part of decision-making and operational execution, rather than an additional layer of complexity.

The tech firm must carefully map out how Hoshin Kanri will interact with current processes such as budgeting, project management, and performance evaluations. Aligning these processes with the Hoshin Kanri cycle will help to streamline operations and reinforce the importance of strategic objectives. It also makes it easier for employees to see how their day-to-day work contributes to the company's long-term vision.

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Scalability and Flexibility

As the tech firm continues to grow, executives will be interested in how the Hoshin Kanri process can scale and remain flexible to accommodate changes. The methodology must be designed with scalability in mind, allowing for adjustments as the organization evolves. This may involve creating scalable templates and processes that can be easily replicated across different departments or regions.

Flexibility is also critical, as the tech firm must be able to respond to market shifts and internal changes rapidly. The Hoshin Kanri process should include mechanisms for regular reviews and swift adaptations to strategies and plans. By building scalability and flexibility into the process, the tech firm can ensure that Hoshin Kanri remains relevant and effective regardless of the organization's size or market conditions.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Improved strategic alignment across all organizational levels, achieving 90% of the defined strategic goals.
  • Increased operational efficiency by 15%, as measured by reduced time-to-market for new product releases.
  • Enhanced organizational agility, enabling a 20% faster response to market changes compared to the previous year.
  • Established a performance dashboard that improved real-time monitoring of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • Successfully integrated Hoshin Kanri with existing processes, streamlining operations and reinforcing strategic objectives.
  • Overcame initial resistance to change, resulting in a 75% employee engagement rate in the Hoshin Kanri process.

Evaluating the success of the Hoshin Kanri implementation reveals a significant positive impact on the tech firm's strategic alignment, operational efficiency, and organizational agility. The achievement of 90% of strategic goals is particularly noteworthy, underscoring the effectiveness of the methodology in translating vision into actionable plans. The increase in operational efficiency and the firm's improved market responsiveness further validate the initiative's success. However, while overcoming resistance to change was largely successful, a 75% engagement rate suggests room for improvement in fostering company-wide buy-in. Alternative strategies, such as more personalized training or enhanced communication efforts, might have further increased employee engagement and support for the initiative.

For next steps, it is recommended to focus on increasing employee engagement in the Hoshin Kanri process, aiming for near 100% participation. This could involve more targeted communication strategies, recognizing and rewarding contributions more visibly, and creating more opportunities for employees to contribute to strategic discussions. Additionally, leveraging technology to further automate and streamline the Hoshin Kanri process could enhance efficiency and agility. Finally, conducting a more detailed analysis of areas where strategic goals were not fully achieved can provide insights for refining strategies and tactics in the next cycle.

Source: Hoshin Kanri Implementation for a Rapidly Growing Tech Firm, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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