The Art of Policy Deployment (Hoshin Kanri)

The Role of Policy Development

Hoshin Kanri, or policy deployment, is one of the most important foundation elements for implementing the lean methodologies across a company. Today we will look at what the definition of Hoshin Kanri and provide a practical approach to getting you started. The aim of Hoshin Kanri, or policy deployment is to design company policies, organizational structure & business systems to autonomously sustain lean practices.

Hoshi Kanri (Policy Development) by Definition

Having an insight into the heritage of the “Hoshi Kanri” translation can assist in understanding the intention of this Lean methodology.

The word Hoshin can be broken into two parts. The literal translation of “Ho” is direction. The literal translation of “shin” is needle, so the word Hoshin translates into direction needle or the English equivalent of compass. The word Kanri can also be broken into two parts. “Kan” translates into control or channeling and “ri” translates into reason or logic. Taken altogether, Hoshin Kanri means management and control of the organisation’s direction needle or focus.


So whether your company wants to call it Policy Deployment or Hoshin Kanri, the key is to have a clear company mission that drives all decisions and actions throughout the company, even including the Sales, Engineering and Purchasing teams!

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A Practical Approach to Getting Started

To get started with a practical approach to policy deployment brush the dust off your Mission statement and determine if it is still relevant to your business today. If so, do you have objectives and clear goals outlined to achieve this mission statement?

Setting Objectives and Goals

For the objectives and goals to meet the Mission statement, they need to be measurable and they need to be tailored to be relevant to each level in the organisation. This is your opportunity to obtain buy in and changing the culture across your company. Progressively work with each level in your organisation to take the Mission statement and turn it into objectives that mean something to them.

Then your first level of management can take it to their team leaders and again determine how each of these objectives will flow down to the shop floor. We’re looking for specific measures to determine the Cost, Quality, Safety and Morale in the factory. Once these clear goals have been established and metrics to monitor and support the Mission statement, we need action items to move us from where we are today to where we would like to be. Each production cell needs clear actions and the steps that they can take to help everyone achieve the Mission statement.

Consider how these actions can be built into every day life; make them visible, review them at every morning meeting and meet with the Team Leaders weekly to review the action steps and reinforce how they build up to support the company mission.

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The challenge with Hoshin Kanri is to make it a living, breathing part of your organisation and used as a sounding board for every decision made. Then communicate the plans and objectives to everyone in a consistent manner that builds trust in your company. While mission statements have been around for many years, turning it into part of your Lean strategy will ensure both the company thrives and your Lean deployment will have a clear position within your company’s future.


Robert Chittenden

Author: Robert Chittenden

Robert Chittenden is a Senior Lean Consultant at TXM Lean Solutions