team brainstorming HLHVision is not usually the problem. It’s common to develop your vision in the boardroom, the elusive “why” of your business—but far more challenging to make it the agent of change at every level. 

Hoshin kanri, a Japanese term coined during the Second World War rebuilding, means “compass management.” It’s a 7-part formula for developing a vision-based strategy and implementing it in practical, day-to-day ways across your business to achieve a competitive edge. 

In other words, hoshin kanri mobilizes your “why” into a tool for your business, not only to get ahead but also to build a vision-based culture from the ground up. Here’s how, in 7 steps: 


Establish Organizational Vision 

If you have yet to establish your “why,” start there. This is no less than answering the question: why does your company exist? 

The “why” here is of the Simon Sinek variety in that it doesn’t depend on your “what” (your products and services) or “how” (your processes). In fact, the “what” and “how” both depend on the “why” – the vision. 

As a guiding principle, your “why” might look something like “To take action against climate change so that we can live, play, and work sustainably.” Your why might inspire you and your team, but seeing that vision through is much easier said than done.

As you build out your “why”, bring in as many stakeholders as will give clear feedback and take your time. This isn’t one to rush. 


Develop Breakthrough Objectives

ho w to develop breakthrough objectives

Once you’ve defined “why,” start strategizing how to use it to create a competitive advantage. Tactics driven directly by your why, as opposed to by your what (like product promotions), will always be more successful. 

The tactics, or objectives, need to be seismic. These aren’t things that a team can bang off in a quarter. They’re the articulation of the paradigm shift of defining your business by your why. Your entire team will need to contribute and be on board long term for them to work.

You only need one or two objectives. Objectives should be things that will take three to five years to complete, for example:

Breakout objective examples

If there are five ideas, boil them down to their common essence and derive them from there. Take it seriously; these objectives will begin to define your business’s competitive edge. 

The next stage to mastering hoshin kanri is far more hands-on. Look out for part two; Developing and Deploying your Objectives, coming next week.