Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Does Hoshin Kanri Rely on a Form of Consumer Opinion?

thumbs_up_computer20090819 Utilizing the Hoshin Kanri strategy deployment framework to manage a breakthrough initiative often involves a process design/ redesign effort. The framework guides the project in many ways similar to a product development effort. In product development, it can be advantageous to put an early working prototype in the hands of the consumer to find out what works and what doesn’t. The valuable consumer feedback obtained from this kind of exercise is used to modify or change the design to achieve a better fit. The exercise is repeated until the consumers become satisfied and the design becomes stable.

Hoshin Kanri guides strategic initiatives in the same way. An early basic version of the design is put in the hands of the consumers to get their feedback. But who are the consumers? In this case the consumers are those who will be most impacted by the changes required to meet the objectives of the initiative. For example, for a Lean material management/ kanban initiative the consumers might include representatives from the front lines of the operation, operations management groups such as those responsible for scheduling, production and\or or service delivery, inventory management, and distribution. The sales group may also be impacted and in many cases customers or suppliers may need to be included as well.

The team working through the process design/ redesign must recognize the Lean concept of “seeing value through the eyes of the customer (consumer)” as important and work diligently to uncover and incorporate the feedback into the evolving design. When the team recognizes they are receiving the “thumbs up” from consumers of the planned changes all along the value stream, the team has done its job well. The Hoshin Kanri/ strategy deployment framework includes all of the technical elements necessary to make this happen.

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