Well, over the coming weeks I plan to cover the highlights of what hoshin kanri is and how you and your organization might best leverage it.
In this first article I want to break the words – hoshin kanri – down a bit. And before I do I must confess… I do have a secret weapon that has armed me with the knowledge I am about to share. His name is Brad Schmidt.
Brad is my friend and business partner. Brad also runs the Gemba Research Japan office where he lives. Brad was educated and grew up in Japan and, as such, is fluent in Japanese.
And as it turns out, during the taping of Gemba Academy’s Lean Lingo course, Brad broke down the characters of this mysterious word. And in doing so, really opened my eyes to what this word means.
High Level Definition
At a high level, the words ho-shin can be translated as direction while kan-ri can be described as management.
Put another way, one could say hoshin kanri means “direction management” or something similar.
Now, if you’ve read a book or two you likely knew this. So let’s dig a little deeper.
Direction & Compass
When we look a little closer at the Japanese characters that make up hoshin we learn that the first character, we call ho, means direction.
The second character, we call shin, can mean compass… or even more accurately steel and needle. So, imagine a needle on a compass pointing the way to the promised land.
Tube & Logic
Now, up to this point Brad hadn’t said anything I hadn’t heard of before… that soon changed when he discussed the characters that made up the word kanri.
The first set of characters for the word kan, means tube. In fact, Brad explained that the sewer pipes in Japan are called kan as “things” pass through this type of tube.
The last character that makes up the word ri means logic.
So, kanri literally means tube logic. In other words we’re pushing logic through a tube! Neat, huh?
Over the next few weeks I plan to write some additional articles on what hoshin kanri means to me and how I have personally used it.
What about you?
What about you? Have you used hoshin kanri before? If so, how did it work out for you?