Hoshin Kanri Lesson: No Plan Goes According to Plan

Having completed the second day of the Hoshin Kanri (Policy Management) session with LEI, I can say that I learned that no plan goes according to plan. Our instructor Pascal Dennis used this phrase several times over two days to drive home the point that it’s okay if things don’t go according to plan, so long as you take corrective action to adjust your course back to “true north” or your plan objectives.
After two hours of good lecture we finished the day with a case study exercise. This three and a half hour small group exercise consisted of brainstorming, affinity diagrams, tree diagrams, and A3 Report writing. This was not very Lean for me personally, since it was practice which I did not need. No plan goes according to plan so I adjusted course and reflected on what I was learning. Next time I will read the LEI training agenda more carefully.
The biggest surprise was that our instructor Pascal Dennis really does not like the x-matrix. He showed us several ugly examples of the x-matrix, demonstrating that it is complex and scary, to be avoided. Pascal has seen them used for “command & control” by an executive who made up everyone else’s x-matrix. When confronted (by me) whether this was an issue of the tool or the user of the tool, he admitted that it was not a weakness of the tool but rather the person using it. Here’s what I’ve used effectively.

Pascal also cited “Garbage in – garbage out” as a risk of the x-matrix but I don’t see how that’s any different for dashboards (Pascal’s favorite) or balanced scorecards. Pascal says he’s never seen the x-matrix at Toyota so that is worth noting. I’ve found the x-matrix quite adequate, and I have doubts that dashboards can be used like the x-matrix to visualize cascading objectives. I will keep an open mind to limitations with the x-matrix and keep my eyes out for better ways to do Hoshin Kanri.
As a follow up to one of yesterday’s comments, Pascal did show a few photos of kamishibai boards and explain how they were used. From what I can tell they are display boards where check sheet cards are placed to make it very visual whether certain standards were being followed and checks performed.
David LaHote, one of the LEI staffers, happened to join our table during lunch. Another person at our table asked about LEI and their business activity. Mr. LaHote explained that LEI does research and publishing of books. LEI doesn’t do consulting, or training. They do seminars for education and awareness, and to support publishing.
I thought the statement that LEI does seminars but not training was an interesting distinction. Perhaps I heard wrong, as there is a button on the LEI website that reads “Training”. This didn’t occur to me as odd until the end of the day. Perhaps seminars for education and awareness have a different purpose than training sessions.
My plan going into this two-day session on Hoshin Kanri was to get some answers (or eliminate excuses) about doing Hoshin Kanri for small, fast-growing enterprises like our own. I can see how it applies well to large, professionally managed organizations with stable or modestly growth. But how to set a few breakthrough objectives when you are a start up or a small firms growing rapidly, meeting objectives by sheer market potential rather than effort?
I learned that “no plan goes according to plan” so you don’t worry about the fact that your strategic plan may be nonsense after 3 months, as long as you are doing PDCA and following the process to root cause corrective action and continuous improvement. Hoshin Kanri is simply good management based on disciplined Plan, Do, Check Act/Adjust and visualizing the current state. These things apply to any business.
Our instructor closed the session with the valuable advice, “Go. Do.”
Overall I was satisfied with the experience, would recommend the class to a beginner in Hoshin Kanri. I would take another LEI class again. I’m glad that there’s an organization like LEI out there spreading the word about Lean and going city to city educating people about Lean manufacturing and problem solving.

3 Comments

  1. Mark Edmondson

    May 19, 2006 - 5:37 pm

    Jon is being quite modest – I’ve experienced both Pascal and Jon work with clients to explain and implement Hoshin, and recommend either one of these experienced professionals.

  2. Jon Miller

    May 31, 2006 - 6:08 pm

    Thanks for your kind words Mark. I don’t deserve them.

  3. Sathish (Sat)

    April 10, 2007 - 1:50 am

    I go with Pascal. I have never come across X-Matrix being used in Toyota in the past 2 years.