Is the Hoshin Kanri Forest More Effective than the Traditional Hoshin Kanri?

Many companies involved in Lean initiatives know the effectiveness of Hoshin Kanri as a policy-deployment methodology. It ensures that an organization's clear strategic goals drive progress and action at every level within that company and it incentivizes proper behavior.

Earlier this year, Javier Villalba-Diez published a book that expands on the concept called The Hoshin Kanri Forest: Lean Strategic Organizational Design. In this book, Javier introduces a theory called the Hoshin Kanri Forest that considers organizations as networks with organizational structure, functional connectivity, and effective dynamic patterns for attaining an optimal strategic organizational design towards the strategic goal of Lean management. I had a chance recently to speak with Javier about his book, and I asked him “What makes the Hoshin Kanri Forest methodology different and more effective than traditional Hoshin Kanri?” Here is his answer:

The crucial finding (there are others) of Hoshin Kanri Forest, and what makes it more effective than traditional Hoshin Kanri methodologies, is that it embeds complexity within the organizational design configuration. For the first time in Lean history, Lean practitioners have a model that enables them to embrace complexity in the management system.

Traditional Hoshin Kanri approaches aim to create alignment throughout the organization by coordinating several organizational units. This is typically done by describing a Hoshin (long-term goal) and cascading or deploying this goal throughout the organization (usually through some sort of problem-solving empowerment methodology). The problems with this approach, which is very deterministic and regular, pops up when complexity arises and the matrix-like thinking is no longer able to cope with the complexity associated usually to product or environmental variability.

To picture an example, the average path length (the number of managers information needs to touch to get from one manager to another in average) of a matrix organization of N=800 managers equals 100. This means that in average, to transmit a message/management order from any given node to any other, we would need 100 steps. The Hoshin Kanri Forest introduces the standardization of business communication through (CPD)nA (which is a developed form of the traditional current-state / target-state based PDCA). By doing so, the Hoshin Kanri Forest is able to create forest-like organizational networks that present several important topological advantages as compared with traditional organizational design configurations.

In the previous example, the APL of a Hoshin Kanri Forest organization is typically APL=ln(ln(N) which for N=800 managers equals APL=1,9!!! This is a 50-fold increase in performance than the traditional design configuration! With the same organization, with the same people, the Hoshin Kanri Forest changes the organizational design to enable the organization to compute complexity. In addition, the Hoshin Kanri Forest shows why methodologies such as Kata do not provide the necessary tool set to compute organizational complexity. But to find out more detail about this and other advantages of Hoshin Kanri Forest, you will need to read the book! ;-) You can visit the book´s website for more information: www.hoshinkanriforest.com

Here is a video of Javier explaining the differences between traditional Hoshin Kanri and the Hoshin Kanri Forest: