Turning Vision into Reality:
The strategy-deployment course builds the critical skills to translate vision into strategies and objectives, and those into aligned, tactical implementation plans. As a strategy deployment professional (SDP), you will be able to effectively lead your team through the strategic planning and implementation process. Watch the video to get an overview, what strategy deployment is and how it works.
What Is Strategy Deployment and Why We Need It
The success rate of strategy execution is incredibly low. The fail-percentage found in scientific studies range from as low as 7% to as high as 90%, with an average of about 50%. Even though a slight improvement can be seen over the years, such percentages of failure are not particularly satisfying. Afterall, it means that every second initiative fails implementation.
To do better, we need to translate a compelling vision into strategies and objectives, and those into aligned, tactical implementation plans. This strategy deployment course builds the skills you need to effectively lead a cross-functional team through the process of strategic planning, stakeholder alignment, and implementation management – so you can realize your shared vision and ambitions.
What Is Hoshin Kanri? Why Do All Companies Need It?
Policy deployment or hoshin kanri in essence means “management by compass”. The Japanese word hoshin means “direction” or “compass needle” and the word kanri means “control” or “administration”. This strategic planning framework defines the current state (baseline), the future state (target), the changes to be implemented (gap), and also the path (roadmap) to achieve the goal. It steers an organization toward its unique long-term strategic objectives and intermediate goals, while maintaining and improving key business processes and results through systematic planning and good organizational alignment.
The concept was initially developed by Professor Yoji Akao in post-war Japan to use the collective thinking power of all employees to make their organization best in class (BIC). It is a technique to align the long-term goals of an organization, guiding all decisions and actions to point into the same direction, the “True North”. Through the 7-step policy-deployment process, strategic goals are being communicated throughout the company and then put into action. Because of its direct influence on organisational performance, it made the hoshin kanri framework an integral part of the Lean and Six Sigma toolbox.
The Hoshin Kanri Framework Consists of 5 Layers and 3 Disciplines
The structured strategy deployment framework helps the leadership team to steer an organization toward its unique long-term strategic objectives and intermediate goals, while also maintaining and improving key business processes and results through systematic planning and good organizational alignment. It involves translating aspirations and ambitions into mission and implementation plans, aligning strategy, measures, and improvement efforts from across an entire organization toward its true north so that every employee understands the organization’s primary goals and strives to reach those goals through continuous improvement activities, both large and small. The framework consists of 5 distinct layers:
Values – the fundamental believes that do not change over time.
Vision – the ambition or ideal future to be realised within 5-20 years.
Mission – the reason for being, what to achieve over next 3-5 years.
Objectives – the priorities, budgets, roadmaps, projects for the year.
Actions – the milestones, tasks, resources, dates, measures, results.
Hoshin kanri requires a strategic vision as an anchor point. From there, breakthrough objectives are derived, with specific goals to be achieved over a 3-5 year period. Once these long-term goals are defined, the executive team will then translate them into annual goals and objectives. Those 5-15 priorities typically cover strategies for commercial (customer, market), operations (quality, delivery, efficiency), technology (innovation, digital), and people (capability, teamwork, motivation). Annual goals are then broken down into programs and projects, with targets and ownership assigned. Doing so makes the strategy actionable, which is key, otherwise nothing will happen. Those projects and programs link strategy deployment to performance management, allowing everyone to see how they are contributing to the overall mission.
Hoshin Kanri to Align Goals and Objectives Across the Organization
The policy deployment model connects the corporate team to mid-level management and to frontline employees. It ensures full alignment across functions and organisational levels, so that all activities point into the same direction, the true north:
Corporate – defines vision, mission, key objectives for the organization.
Sites – translate corporate objectives into local strategies and goals.
Functions – define functional objectives, roadmaps and projects.
Teams – develop improvement actions for lines, groups, and teams.
Companies that practice hoshin kanri commonly commonly use Deming’s “plan-do-check-act” (PDCA) cycle to cascade goals down and achieve consensus between entities, divisions, layers, functions, and teams. This is because Deming played a role in the spreading of quality control principles that influenced the development of hoshin kanri. The cyclical process is a way to plan for the future, not just to react to what is happening now.
Strategy Deployment Process - The 7 Steps
The strategy deployment process consists of seven steps to translate vision into strategy and operational plans (hoshin planning), and systematically executing those plans, while engaging everyone in the organization to pull into the same direction.
Establish organisational values, vision, and mission.
Develop strategic plans, long-term or breakthrough objectives.
Derive annual objectives, x-matrix, implementation roadmap.
Deploy roadmap to teams, define projects, and set targets.
Implement plans, track progress on the balanced scorecard.
Review weekly sprints, monthly progress, quarterly impact.
Summarize annual results and apply learning to the next cycle.
Hoshin kanri might seem like a top-down approach, where goals are being mandated by management and the implementation is being done by employees. But it is really a bi-directional approach, using the catchball process and x-matrix (scroll down to read more) to align people and get them behind the mission.
Catchball Process to Set Targets and Align Goals
The catchball process is a critical part of strategy deployment, cascading goals and objectives top-down, while aligning people across functions and hierarchical levels of the organization. Catchball is a term derived from a children’s ball game, but instead of a ball, an idea or goal is thrown from person to person. Each catchball cycle involves three steps:
Translate an objective into a strategy (throw ball).
Make this strategy the objective of the next level (catch ball).
Refine and adjust until both levels are fully aligned (prepare ball).
The catchball system seeks to get opinions of all stakeholders through focused meetings and interactions to ensure the bidirectional flow of information to set targets, report status, and provide feedback throughout the organization. The catchball process is completed when all goals and objectives are cascaded down and fully aligned between leaders, managers, supervisors, and frontline. The following pictures shows an actual management team in a Hoshin planning session, using catchball to align on targets and way forward.
The X-Matrix Is the Key Tool for Hoshin Planning
An effective strategic planning process requires alignment between people, purpose, priorities, and processes. The degree of alignment is mapped visually in the x-matrix, a tool that links strategic objectives to operational targets, and those targets to functions and processes. This planning matrix translates long-term goals and breakthrough objectives into strategies, tactics, and operational targets. The strategy deployment team works then bottom-up to identify required resources, skills, and structures to achieve those strategic objectives. As a final step, detailed roadmaps are being developed for each entity and team, specifying targets, tasks, timelines and ownership for implementation.
X-Matrix Elements: The 6 Building-Blocks of a Strategy Deployment Plan
X-Matrix Development Process in 6 Steps
The x-matrix summarizes the strategic plan on a single page. It connects an organisation’s purpose (mission) to its long-term or goals (objectives), and those to annual objectives (strategies), to programs and projects (tactics), to performance metrics and targets (targets), and those to the people responsible for the implementation and accountable for the impact (owners). Here are the 6 steps to develop the x-matrix to systematically deploy policy:
- Mission: Define the purpose and principles, how to act every day to achieve ambitions someday, e.g. “Provide access to the world’s information in one click” (Google) or “Think differently and challenge the status quo” (Apple).
- Objectives: Define long-term goals, the breakthrough objectives for the next 3-5 years. Examples: (a) Achieving same-day delivery, (b) Creating drawings right first time, (c) Implementing end-to-end flow, (d) Maturing to Lean Gold level.
- Strategies: Define changes to implement, objectives and key results (OKR) for the year. Examples: (a) Rationalize the product portfolio, (b) Develop strategic partners, (c) Develop new product line, (d) Reduce design errors in half.
- Tactics: Define improvement priorities, projects and programs for the year. Examples: (a) Eliminate the top-5 root causes, (b) Set up a sales office in Shanghai, (c) Remove non-moving items from inventory, (d) Certify 15 Lean Six Sigma Black Belts.
- Targets: Define performance metrics, baselines and targets for the year. Examples: (a) Productivity from 28 to 40 per hour, (b) On-time delivery from 78% to 95%, (c) Sales from $216M to $281M per year, (d) Portfolio margin from 15% to 20%.
- Owners: Define people responsible for implementation and impact. Example: (a) Mark Morrison to implement design rule checker for auto-validating sales orders, (b) Bob Brenson to eliminate root causes of top-5 customer complaints.
X-Matrix Example: 5-Year Strategic Plan for a Service Company
The following example shows how a service company its goals into committed action plans. It starts with the mission to “Deliver excellence by providing an industry-leading customers service from design to delivery”, translated into breakthrough objectives “Error-free service”, “Same-day delivery”, “Sales increase by 50%”, “Lean culture”, and “Gold maturity level”.
For example, to pursue “Error-free service”, the team has defined the strategy “Reduce design errors” and the two tactics “Root cause elimination on top-5 complaints” and “Install design-rule checker application”. Progress is measured in terms of quality, the number of errors per order, to be reduced from 1.8% to 1.0%. Mark Manson, the head of IT is leading this project, ensures that the new application is installed, people trained, and the target achieved.
The Strategy Deployment System Consists of X-Matrix and Roadmap
The strategy deployment system (SDS) requires the x-matrix to link the mission to objectives, strategies, tactics, targets, and ownership. The second element is the roadmap to define tasks and deliverables for each initiative and month. The outcome of this roadmapping process is a 12-month implementation schedule, the “master plan”.
What Is a Roadmap and How Does It Work?
The strategy deployment roadmap is the hoshin plan that defines how to achieve the strategic objectives, the “wildly-important goals (WIG)” or “must-win battles (MWB)“. The roadmap lists priority programs and projects, associated metrics and targets to measure progress, and the timeline, milestones, tasks, and deliverables to achieve the set targets. The roadmap is used as a major communication tool that clearly defines the “What” and the “How” to achieve the gaols. It is also referred to as “master plan” that makes status and issues transparent, so they can be addressed before growing into major obstacles, deviations, or delays. Such strategy implementation plan helps the team to stay aligned and on track, while addressing the challenges in deploying the plan. It works identically to a product roadmap or project roadmap.
What Are Roadmap Elements? How Does a Robust Roadmap Look Like?
To make a Roadmap an effective instrument for strategy implementation, it must cover 6 key elements:
- Tactic – a short description of the initiative, e.g. scrap reduction, right first time, same-day processing etc.
- Metric – the indicator to measure progress with clear description or formula, e.g. time between entry and confirmation.
- Unit – unit of measure, e.g. parts per hour, good units produced, number of tests per employee-hour, score per checklist.
- Baseline – performance at the beginning; important because all improvements will be measured against this reference.
- Target – desired level of performance at the endpoint, which is typically the end of the year or the implementation period.
- Schedule – a detailed plan with tasks and targets for each initiative and month to close the gap to the year-end target.
- Download the KPI-X Toolkit which includes the roadmap template and the x-matrix template, and also KPI-tracking sheets for the scorecard.
- See also the article from the Iowa State University: “Vision and Mission Statements – a Roadmap Where You Want to Go and How to Get There“.
How to Get Started With Policy Deployment? Download the Ebook and Do the Exercises
Even though the concept of policy deployment might look a bit overwhelming at first, it is not really complicated. In fact, the biggest hurdle is to get started. Once you have defined the “What” and the “Why”, you will naturally proceed to develop the “How”. Formalizing the goals and plans allows everyone to see the “big picture” and align actions and decisions to contribute to the mission.
The ebook “What Transformations Fail and The 7 Keys to Design Effective Change Programs” provides guidelines on how to improve the the success rate of improvement initiatives. Those include the 7 factors for a strong vision, the 7 factors to set effective goals, and the 7 factors to successful implement change. This ebook contains fillable pdf-worksheets, so you can develop your program while learning the theory. For best results, use the Adobe Acrobat reader (free).
Start now, follow the guideline and complete the three exercises to design effective projects and programs – a prerequisite to realize your vision.
Take the Strategy-Deployment Course to Become a Certified Strategy-Deployment Professional
As a strategy deployment professional, you are guiding your team through the strategic planning workshop to clarify the vision and mission, analyze internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats. You will then identify gaps and issues that need to be addressed to achieve the mission. From there, you will formulate goals and objectives to set up the x-matrix, which serves as a compass to guide the organization and ensure its long-term growth and sustainability. Using this corporate compass as a base, you will then develop the strategy deployment roadmap, specifying initiatives, activities, timing, resources, goals and deliverables – the blueprint to achieve the mission.
Roles for this course include sponsor, student, coach. The sponsor allocates resources and provides context, such as an unclear strategy, lack of commitment, delayed implementation, or resistance to change. The student invests time to develop and implement the strategy deployment system. The coach evaluates progress, provides advice and feedback.
Building the strategy deployment system is one of the most important, exciting, and challenging exercises an organization can undertake. It requires the full engagement of the leadership team and a capable moderator, the strategy deployment professional, to guide the team through the planning and alignment process – a prerequisite for successful implementation.
When Should You Consider Strategy Deployment Training?
- Past failures. Review previous project, programs, and annual plans. Did you get where you wanted to be? If not, you may want to try something new. Getting skilled in Strategy Deployment is the first step, signalling your team and organization that something has changed, that you are committed to improve the way of planning and achieving goals.
- Distributed workforce. Is your organization spread out geographically? Are people working remotely or across regions? When people work from different places it is often challenging to keep them pointed in the same direction. A solid method for strategy management helps keeping everyone on the same page even if they are not under the same roof.
- Weak engagement. To act in the interest of the organization, people need to understand the big picture and see a clear connection between what they are doing and the ultimate outcome. Being skilled in strategy deployment helps aligning individual, departmental, and corporate goals.
- Top priority. Do you have any “Must-Win-Battle”, “Wildly-Important-Goal”, or “All-Or-Nothing-Mission” to deliver? Because failure is not an option, you will will need any method and structure that helps you to identify and remove barriers, and track the progress toward those must-do goals.
- Poor visibility. Do you know all the obstacles that you have to address? If not, there is a good chance that you will hit roadblocks that prevent you from reaching your goal on time and budget, if at all. If you have been surprised by a lack of progress, missed forecasts, or unanticipated changes, it is time to consider upgrading skills and systems for better strategy execution. Good visibility means no surprises.
Even the best organizations are facing such challenges from time to time. By learning and applying proven practices in Strategy Deployment, you will be able to tackle them quickly and effectively, bringing your team together and on the same page, getting to the finish line on time and on budget with a high level of confidence.