Hoshin Planning is a strategic planning tool used to create strategic goals and a concrete strategy to implement them. The beauty of this method is that it treats everyone as an expert in their respective areas and everyone has the opportunity to provide improvement input. What I love about Hoshin Planning is that it tackles some of the most criticized element of 6Sigma- the lack of people focus. In Hoshin Planning everyone is aware of how it works because everyone contributes.
What does Hoshin Planning do?
In addition to providing a concrete strategic plan, a Hoshin Plan provide some definite benefits to organizations that chose to use it. A few common benefits are:
- The ability to create a common goal, particularly useful in large organizations.
- Creates a common language to articulate expectations and goals within the organization.
- Involves all stages of leadership.
- Creates accountability.
What does it look like?
There are a million ways to complete a Hoshin Plan, you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want. The illustration above is my interpretation of the plan at its simplest for general use. Hoshin Plans generally have six main areas: your current business situation, your recommendations/solutions, your strategies, your metrics and your timeframe for completion. The current business situation should describe the challenge or situation you are trying to solve. The recommendations/solutions section should be the place where your solution brainstorming happens. This is where the employee involvement takes a concrete form and this is the place to be creative.
The strategies section is where you assign accountability for the accepted strategies. Remember that this is a cooperative area as well; you want to be sure that your staff participated in the selection and assignment of strategies.
The metrics section is where you will decide what constitutes a success and how that success will be measured. As with all things 6Sigma, the clearer these metrics are the more likely they are to succeed. The final section will be the time frame for these strategies to be implemented and the time frame can and will vary according to your organizations needs.
When to use it
Although Hoshin is one of my favorite tools it is only useful when you already have daily measures and controls in place. The accuracy of your plan assumes that you already do, so if you are creating a strategy that needs everything create those measurements and controls first, then employ Hoshin.
As always this is a very simplistic introduction to Hoshin Planning, individual plans will be more complicated so please see your 6Sigma professional before you get started.
This blog post comes out of a recent conversation about Six Sigma specifics. I was discussing a Six Sigma engagement and the client asked to see specific experience in Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word for improvement, for Six Sigma purposes it means continuous improvement. To be categorized as a Six Sigma project, the project will inherently be improvement focused.
When looking for specialized service, the temptation is to use the acronyms and jargon is pretty normal, but beware sometimes using these terms only highlights your lack of knowledge to unscrupulous consultants. To shift the knowledge paradigm back to the customers here are a few basic 6Sigma terms and what they mean.
Six Sigma Belts
This refers to the level of the Six Sigma professional running your project. Yellow is the lowest level of expertise and Master Black Belt is the highest level of expertise. I break down each belt and the belt responsibilities in my blog post ‘What’s in a Belt”?
Continuous Improvement Methodology
Six Sigma is a management methodology and as you consult experts you will hear them talk about continuous improvement methodologies as they try to impress you with facts and figures. What you need to know is 6Sigma is one of many improvement methodologies. The key to improvement methodologies is to finding one that works well with the internal culture of your organization.
This simply refers to the lean projects your organization has attempted or completed. This phrase usually shows up when a consultant or an organization is analyzing the ROI in lean projects. When you hear or see this phrase, what you are looking for is a summary of the projects and their respective results.
These are lean projects tailored to produce immediate or near immediate results. Now from my prospective rapid and lean are mutually exclusive, but any tweak to a process can create improvements. Organizations should be aware that fast improvements typically are not sustainable improvements and rapid deployments need to have a near perfect implementation. If you are in the operations field you probably work on the basis of Murphy’s Law so you’ll have realistic expectations; for the other fields there is no such thing as a magic bullet. There are changes that can be made but a process is a very fragile thing and any change even the most subtle ones, can wreak havoc to an improvement project.
So these are the terms that you will probably hear thrown around regarding Six Sigma and as you delve deeper into the methodology you will hear more complicated terms. The key to Six Sigma is understanding that it isn’t this archaic, complicated methodology.
If you have a question about it, I have an answer.