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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
What is the role of Hoshin Kanri in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within corporate strategies?


This article provides a detailed response to: What is the role of Hoshin Kanri in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within corporate strategies? For a comprehensive understanding of Hoshin, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Hoshin best practice resources.

TLDR Hoshin Kanri provides a structured Strategic Planning framework for integrating DEI into corporate strategies, emphasizing clear objectives, commitment, alignment, and measurable success to promote a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

Reading time: 4 minutes


Hoshin Kanri, a strategic planning process originating from Japan, has gained prominence in the global business landscape for its effectiveness in aligning an organization's functions towards achieving long-term strategic goals. At its core, Hoshin Kanri is about direction, communication, and commitment to continuous improvement. When applied to promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within corporate strategies, Hoshin Kanri offers a structured approach that can significantly enhance an organization's efforts in these areas.

Integrating DEI into Strategic Planning through Hoshin Kanri

The first step in leveraging Hoshin Kanri for DEI is integrating these principles directly into the strategic planning process. This involves identifying DEI as a critical strategic objective that is as important as financial performance, market expansion, or innovation. The process starts with the development of a clear vision for what DEI means for the organization, followed by setting specific, measurable objectives that align with this vision. For example, an organization might set a goal to achieve a certain percentage of women in leadership positions or to improve the representation of underrepresented groups in its workforce by a specific year.

Key to Hoshin Kanri is the cascading of goals from the top level of the organization down to every individual employee. This ensures that DEI objectives are not just siloed within human resources or diversity and inclusion offices but are integrated throughout the organization. Each department and team develops their own targets and initiatives that align with the overarching DEI goals, creating a cohesive effort across the entire organization. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and accountability at all levels, crucial for driving real change.

Moreover, Hoshin Kanri emphasizes regular review cycles—often quarterly and annually—where progress towards goals is assessed, and strategies are adjusted as needed. This iterative process ensures that DEI efforts are continuously improved and adapted to changing circumstances, keeping the organization agile and responsive to both internal and external DEI challenges and opportunities.

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Driving Commitment and Alignment

One of the strengths of Hoshin Kanri is its ability to drive commitment and alignment across the organization. By involving leaders and employees at all levels in the development of DEI goals and strategies, the process builds a shared understanding and commitment to these objectives. This inclusive approach is itself a practice of diversity and inclusion, demonstrating the organization's commitment to these values in its strategic planning processes.

Communication plays a critical role in this process. Hoshin Kanri requires transparent communication of DEI goals and progress throughout the organization. This not only keeps everyone informed but also fosters a culture of openness and accountability. Regular communication about DEI initiatives and their outcomes helps to build momentum and maintain focus on these important objectives, even as the organization pursues other strategic goals.

Furthermore, the alignment facilitated by Hoshin Kanri ensures that DEI efforts are not viewed as standalone initiatives but are integrated into the fabric of the organization's strategic efforts. This integration helps to break down silos and encourages cross-functional collaboration, leveraging diverse perspectives and expertise in pursuit of common goals. Such collaboration is essential for fostering an inclusive culture and achieving meaningful progress in DEI.

Measuring Success and Impact

Measurement is a critical component of Hoshin Kanri, and this extends to DEI initiatives. Setting clear, quantifiable targets for DEI objectives allows an organization to track its progress and evaluate the impact of its strategies. This data-driven approach ensures that DEI efforts are not just well-intentioned but are delivering tangible results. Metrics might include diversity demographics, employee engagement scores, retention rates among underrepresented groups, or the number of DEI training sessions conducted.

However, measuring success in DEI also requires looking beyond the numbers. Qualitative assessments, such as employee surveys and feedback mechanisms, provide valuable insights into the lived experiences of employees from diverse backgrounds. These insights can help identify areas for improvement that might not be apparent from quantitative data alone. For example, while an organization may have achieved its target for gender diversity, employee feedback might reveal ongoing challenges related to inclusion and equity that need to be addressed.

Finally, it's important to recognize that DEI is a long-term commitment and that progress may be gradual. Hoshin Kanri, with its emphasis on continuous improvement, is well-suited to this reality. By setting realistic, incremental goals and regularly reviewing progress, an organization can maintain momentum and adapt its strategies to overcome obstacles and seize new opportunities for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In conclusion, Hoshin Kanri offers a powerful framework for integrating DEI into corporate strategies. By setting clear objectives, driving commitment and alignment, and measuring success and impact, organizations can make significant strides in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. This strategic approach not only contributes to a more inclusive and equitable workplace but also enhances the organization's overall performance and resilience.

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Best Practices in Hoshin

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

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Explore all of our best practices in: Hoshin

Hoshin Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Hoshin, 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]
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 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]
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]
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]
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 Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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