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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
How can companies ensure the flexibility of their Hoshin Plan without losing sight of their "True North"?


This article provides a detailed response to: How can companies ensure the flexibility of their Hoshin Plan without losing sight of their "True North"? For a comprehensive understanding of Hoshin Planning, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Hoshin Planning best practice resources.

TLDR Companies can maintain Hoshin Plan flexibility while aligning with their True North by designing adaptable strategic objectives, incorporating scenario planning, ensuring regular reviews, fostering organizational alignment and communication, empowering leadership, and leveraging technology for real-time adjustments and data-driven decision-making.

Reading time: 4 minutes


Hoshin Planning, also known as Hoshin Kanri, is a methodological approach to Strategic Planning and Management that allows organizations to align their mission, vision, and strategic goals across all levels of the organization. Ensuring the flexibility of a Hoshin Plan while maintaining alignment with the organization's "True North" requires a delicate balance between adaptability and steadfastness to core objectives. This balance can be achieved through several actionable strategies, incorporating insights from leading consulting and market research firms.

Embedding Flexibility into Strategic Objectives

One of the foundational steps in maintaining flexibility within the Hoshin Plan is to design strategic objectives that are inherently adaptable. This involves setting broad enough goals that allow for adjustment in tactics without altering the fundamental direction. For instance, a goal to "increase market share" can be pursued through various means—product innovation, customer experience enhancement, or strategic partnerships—depending on market conditions and opportunities. This approach is supported by research from McKinsey, which suggests that high-performing organizations excel at shifting resources quickly towards strategic priorities, demonstrating the value of adaptable strategic objectives.

Organizations can further enhance flexibility by incorporating scenario planning into their Hoshin Planning process. This involves developing multiple strategic scenarios based on potential external changes, such as economic shifts, technological advancements, or competitive movements. By preparing for various scenarios, organizations can pivot more easily without losing sight of their strategic direction. This method of planning not only ensures readiness for unforeseen changes but also keeps the organization aligned with its "True North" by having predefined strategies that account for different futures.

Moreover, setting up a regular review and adjustment cycle for the Hoshin Plan is crucial. These periodic reviews allow for the reassessment of strategic objectives and the realignment of resources and efforts to meet the most current needs and opportunities. Accenture's research highlights the importance of agile Strategic Planning processes that include regular check-ins and adjustments to stay aligned with rapidly changing market conditions.

Learn more about Customer Experience Strategic Planning Scenario Planning Agile Hoshin Planning

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Strengthening Organizational Alignment and Communication

Ensuring every member of the organization understands the "True North" and how their work contributes to it is paramount in maintaining strategic focus while being flexible. This can be achieved through transparent communication and the integration of the Hoshin Plan into daily operations. For example, using visual management tools, such as strategy maps and scorecards, can help in clearly communicating strategic objectives and their progress to all employees. Deloitte emphasizes the importance of clear communication in aligning employees' efforts with the organization's strategic goals.

Engaging employees in the planning process also fosters a deeper understanding of the strategic direction and builds commitment to it. When employees are involved in setting goals and developing strategies, they are more likely to adapt to changes in plans as they understand the rationale behind shifts in strategy. This participatory approach to Strategic Planning has been shown to enhance flexibility and responsiveness to change, as noted by PwC's insights on organizational agility.

Leadership plays a critical role in maintaining alignment with the "True North." Leaders must embody the strategic vision and demonstrate flexibility in their decision-making and problem-solving approaches. By leading by example, leaders can inspire a culture of adaptability and strategic focus throughout the organization. EY's research on leadership impact underscores the importance of leaders in driving strategic alignment and fostering an adaptable organizational culture.

Learn more about Organizational Culture Visual Management Leadership

Leveraging Technology for Enhanced Flexibility

Technological tools can significantly enhance the flexibility of the Hoshin Plan. Digital platforms that facilitate real-time tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs) and strategic objectives allow for quicker adjustments in response to deviations from the plan. For example, cloud-based strategy execution software enables organizations to monitor progress, collaborate on adjustments, and communicate changes across all levels of the organization efficiently. According to Gartner, leveraging technology in Strategic Planning and execution can increase organizational agility and alignment with strategic goals.

Moreover, advanced analytics and predictive modeling can provide insights that inform strategic adjustments. By analyzing trends and forecasting future scenarios, organizations can make data-driven decisions that align with their "True North" while adapting to changing circumstances. Bain & Company's research highlights the competitive advantage gained by organizations that effectively use analytics to inform their Strategic Planning process.

Finally, integrating digital tools into the Hoshin Planning process can facilitate more dynamic and collaborative planning. Digital collaboration platforms allow for continuous input and feedback from stakeholders across the organization, ensuring that the Hoshin Plan remains relevant and aligned with both internal capabilities and external market conditions. The use of digital tools in strategic management, as noted by Capgemini, promotes a culture of innovation and flexibility that is essential for maintaining alignment with the organization's "True North."

Learn more about Competitive Advantage Strategy Execution Key Performance Indicators

Best Practices in Hoshin Planning

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

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Explore all of our best practices in: Hoshin Planning

Hoshin Planning Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Hoshin Planning, 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]
How does Hoshin Kanri complement or conflict with other strategic planning methodologies like OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)?
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. [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]

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


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