Hoshin Kanri

from the Perspective of Competitive Advantage

Edwin B. Dean


[NASA Logo] Greg Watson, in his introduction to Akao (1991), states that
Perhaps the most accurate term for hoshin kanri would be target-means deployment, but the dryness of that fails to capture the power of this method. 'Hoshin' means shining metal, compass, or pointing the direction; 'kanri' means management or control. Hoshin is often translated as policy, but it refers to something far more reaching, like vision, purpose, long-term direction of the company. Hoshin kanri is a method devised to capture and concretize strategic goals as well as flashes of insight about the future and develop the means to bring them into reality.

Eureka and Ryan (1990) note that the late Dr. Shigeru Mizuno defined hoshin kanri as

Deploy and share the direction, goals, and approaches of corporate management from top management to employees, and for each unit of the organization to conduct work according to the plan. Then, evaluate, investigate, and feed back the results, or go through the cycle of PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) continuously and attempt to continuously improve the performance of the organization.

Eureka and Ryan (1990) also note that, as of the date of the book, the definition used by the American Supplier Institute had evolved to

A system for translating the organization's vision and objectives into actionable and measurable strategies throughout the company.
They also propose three levels of planning in increasing order of effectiveness: little or none, management by objective which focuses on results, and hoshin kanri which focuses on process. They refer to hoshin kanri as
MBO done right.
Finally, they note that
One of Policy Management's [hoshin kanri's] greatest strengths is its ability to translate qualitative, executive level goals into quantitative, achievable actions" and that "it's a process for focusing many resources on a few high-priority issues to achieve breakthrough.

Noting that the quality of the product is a function of the quality of the organization which produces it, that hoshin kanri is a means of designing the quality of the organization, and that designing for quality is necessary for designing for competitive advantage, then hoshin kanri can be seen to be a primary means of designing for competitive advantage. Since technology is the sum of the means of filling the needs of a society, since the organization is a society, and since improving the quality of the product of the organization is a need of the organization, then hoshin kanri, when used, is seen to be an important component of the technology for designing for competitive advantage.

To understand hoshin kanri requires a process of reading as well as doing. Eureka and Ryan (1990) provides a simple introduction. Akao (1991) provides the necessary Japanese perspective. King (1989) provides more detail on the tools of hoshin kanri. Sheridan (1993) uses the Florida Light and Power Deming Prize winning implementation of policy deployment as an example. Based upon the GOAL/QPC course, Colletti (1995) is an excellent facilitators manual, as well as a course text. A knowledge of quality function deployment, the seven new tools, and the seven old tools is also important, since they are valuable tools for use within the hoshin kanri process. Finally, in order to learn hoshin kanri, you must use it!





Hoshin Kanri Bibliography


Surfing the Web

TQM: Hoshin


Table of Contents | Human Technologies | Quality Technologies | Use