Whether manual or automated, companies have learned that the piecemeal process improvement doesn’t produce breakout results. To drive real business transformation, companies need to link their strategy and some business process management to drive change at every level within the business.
There are different accelerator tools to help business deploy a new business strategy and improve business results. Strategy deployment and BPM dovetail for a few reasons. Which is why it’s worth considering how they relate to one another.
Hoshin Kanri or, Lean – or, both? Well, let’s start by looking at what Lean is and then Hoshin Kanri as this will help us answer that very question.
The core differences between popular best-practice methodologies often just boil down to terminology… but, the hoshin process (when deploying strategy combined) used in combination with a structured lean improvement program (to build operational excellence and innovation system) companies position themselves to be in the 30% of high performing companies who achieve radical change.
What is Lean?
Without trying to cover what Lean is in this post, let’s summarise Lean as a method to create process efficiencies by eliminating non-value adding activities (Muda).
In order to eliminate waste, you look out for TIM WOOD or, the 7 types of waste:
- Over Processing (too difficult)
- Overproduction (too much or too soon)
This waste is identified across the core business processes for both information and service flow, by a team of trained employees and their leaders in what each type of waste entails. In that sense, Lean is definitely “Bottom-Up” and it does not need strategic intent to be achieved. After all, deciding to put the printer in the office rather than the canteen just makes sense whatever the strategy or mission of your business is.
What is Hoshin Kanri?
Hoshin Kanri is a method for ensuring that the strategic goals of a company drive progress and action at every level within that company. This eliminates the waste that comes from inconsistent direction and poor communication.
Hoshin process strives to get every employee pulling in the same direction at the same time. It achieves this by aligning the goals of the company (strategy) with the plans of middle management (tactics) and the work performed by all employees (operations). In that sense, Hoshin is definitely “Top-down” and it does need strategic intent to be achieved. It must start with a vision and is then broken down into 3-5 years of Breakthrough Objectives by the C-suite.
A ‘catch-ball’ process follows where the top management and middle management agrees on how those breakthrough objectives will be achieved, thus creating annual goals. Goals are nothing without concrete actions, however, and so the next step is then to identify improvement priorities.
If you combine a strong lean program, with your strategy deployment process, the two will meet in the middle to yield a positive outcome to your change effort.
Hoshin Kanri and Lean will at some point meet, right in the middle between the Top-Down Hoshin Kanri and the Bottom-Up Lean. As lean’s purpose is the reduction of waste, the business can use lean to identify improvements which can only empower the business further to achieve their strategic goals.