Hoshin Kanri – Align Your Business Strategy and Operations


Before I introduce you to hoshin kanri, there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself: Do you believe in excellence? Do you wake up each day with the resolve to achieve more than you did yesterday? If you believe in this level of excellence, it means you strive to hit achievable and quantifiable targets. You stretch yourself to the point of being uncomfortable and afraid.

As business owners, however, you’ve probably had 1 or more of these thoughts today:

  • There’s not enough time in the day to accomplish all the things in the to-do list just to keep my business running.
  • I feel like I should be earning more profit. I don’t know why I’m not.
  • I don’t have time to find and setup a competent person to delegate these tasks.
  • I got into this mess because I love doing ____ but now I’m a slave to administrative tasks.

Defining excellence should never be subjective – it should be defined as quantifiable data points.  This is because gaps are defined as the delta between where you are now and where you want to be. Business owners start with long range, strategic goals which will take years to accomplish. This is the stretch. This is where most people stop because it’s overwhelming.

The good news is you’re not alone. The great news is we can easily solve these problems by identifying and obliterating these gaps so you can spend your days growing your business, not running it.

Committed business owners never stop. We break these goals down, reverse engineering what we must do every year > month > week > day > hour.  We start today to get us 1 step closer to that long-range target. We do this because we don’t say that we can’t accomplish these targets. We say, “We can if…”. If this sounds like you, I’m going to introduce you to your one true love: hoshin kanri.

Hoshin Kanri – What’s Your True North?

Hoshin Kanri is a method of aligning strategy, tactics, and operational action at every level of a company to ensure that each member is on board and heading toward the same direction. Hoshin kanri means true north or compass in Japanese. Aligning with hoshin kanri means we all know where we’re going and why we’re going there. It eliminates inconsistency, redundancy and poor communication. Toyota has been using this method for over 80 years and has used it to dominate their industry.

So now you’ve set your targets, but how to you get there?  This is where traditional and lean methodologies take to different paths. Hoshin uses a foundation of process improvement. Process improvement means you’re constantly experimenting and testing variables to get to your target. AB or split testing is process improvement.

Without process improvement, you’ll never reach your strategic or hoshin targets because these are stretch goals.  You set them because if they were achievable now, you’d already be doing them.  You don’t have the process infrastructure to meet these goals so you need a methodology to help you change that.

Orient to the Customer and Close the Gaps

I started writing this post with the value defined by my customer or “goal in mind”.

Today is your opportunity to choose to run a lean business, and you start by defining your customer. A person or company is your customer if they currently pay you for your product or service. This person is your true north. They set the tone for all processes designed in your company, all branding and marketing and all key performance metrics. This is the person whose shoes you need to live in. You empathize with this person’s problems, not your own. Once you do this, you’ll realize they don’t pay you for your service. You’re paid for the opportunity to help close their gaps.

As all lean coaches say, “Now go, do.”


Ashley’Ashley Asue Glasshouse Consultings a unique hybrid of two very different worlds – Finance and Operations.  She started out as a professional auditor and certified public accountant, spending her time verifying whether money did or did not exist.  The 14-hour days got old fast, so she left after 3 years. With a reputation for getting things done, she was offered an opportunity to work for the Chief of Operations at a $4B public company. She had no idea this role would lead to her one true love – lean process improvement and strategic deployment planning. Since then she’s designed, trained and executed closing process gaps ranging from $1k to $100M. You can find Ashley anywhere things are getting done.


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