Lean thinking is an innovative approach that reduces waste and increases value to achieve operational excellence and, ultimately, result in organisational success. Lean strategy deployment lies at the heart of this concept, designed to seamlessly align organisational goals, engage cross-functional teams, and drive continuous improvement. This blog post will explore how lean strategic deployment is a relevant and transformative concept within the lean strategy framework.
Lean strategy, often called lean thinking or management, is a business approach and philosophy aiming to maximise customer value while minimising organisational waste and inefficiency. It draws its roots from the principles initially developed in lean manufacturing, notably popularised by Toyota in the mid-20th century. Lean strategy extends these principles beyond the manufacturing sectors to various other industries and processes.
Lean strategy deployment, also known as Hoshin Kanri or Policy deployment, is a systematic and structured approach organisations use to effectively implement their lean strategy and ensure that it resonates at every level of the organisation. This process aligns an organisation's strategic goals with its daily operations, ensuring that everyone, from top management to front-line employees, works together to achieve common objectives. Here's a breakdown of what lean strategy deployment includes:
In the realm of Lean Strategy Deployment, Hoshin Kanri emerges as the unwavering North Star, guiding organisations toward their strategic objectives. Like a celestial compass, Hoshin Kanri illuminates the path of aligning top-level strategic goals with everyday operations, ensuring that every action and initiative is directed toward a common purpose. It leads the cascade of objectives throughout the organisation, from leadership down to front-line teams, creating a seamless alignment that resembles constellations. Much like celestial navigation, Hoshin Kanri involves regular course correction and adjustment, as it empowers teams to navigate throughout the process and overcome obstacles on the journey toward strategic success. It is a clear guiding light for the organisation, fostering collaboration and continuous improvement to stay on track with its strategy.
Policy deployment and strategy deployment are terms often used interchangeably, but they have subtle differences. Policy deployment primarily focuses on aligning an organisation's policies and processes with its strategic goals. It emphasises ensuring that policies and procedures at all levels of the organisation support the overarching strategy. Strategy deployment, on the other hand, encompasses a broader approach. It not only aligns policies and processes but also involves setting and cascading strategic objectives, engaging cross-functional teams, and emphasising continuous improvement and employee involvement to achieve those objectives.
Deploying the lean strategies (Hoshin Kanri or Policy Deployment) in your organisation involves a systematic approach to aligning your strategic goals with day-to-day activities and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. So, let’s understand the steps to implement lean strategy deployment in your organisation.
Lean strategy deployment tools and techniques are integral to the Lean philosophy, which aims to eliminate waste, improve efficiency, enhance quality, and align the organisation's efforts with its strategic goals. They provide structured approaches for problem-solving, process improvement, and strategic alignment.
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a visual tool used to analyse, document, and improve the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a customer. VSM typically includes mapping the current state of a process (how it currently operates), identifying value-added and non-value-added activities, and then designing a future state that eliminates waste and improves efficiency.
A3 Problem Solving is a structured and systematic approach to identifying, analysing, and solving problems within an organisation. It involves using an A3-sized sheet of paper to capture information about the problem, including the current state, root cause, proposed countermeasures, and an action plan for implementation. A3 thinking encourages collaborative problem-solving and concise documentation.
Gemba Walks involve going to the actual workplace or "Gemba" to observe processes, gather information, and engage with employees to understand their work and identify improvement opportunities. Gemba walks focus on observation, asking open-ended questions, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement by involving all employees in problem-solving and process improvement.
Kaizen Events are short-term, focused improvement activities aimed at making rapid, incremental changes to a specific process or area. These events typically follow a structured agenda and involve cross-functional teams working intensively for a few days to identify and implement improvements. The goal is to achieve immediate results and sustain continuous improvement over time.
The Hoshin Kanri X Matrix is a tool used in strategic planning to align organisational goals and objectives with specific action plans and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The X Matrix visually represents the linkage between long-term strategic objectives (top row), strategic initiatives (left column), responsible parties, and KPIs. It ensures that activities at all levels of the organisation support the overarching strategy.
The PDCA Cycle is also known as the Deming Cycle or Shewhart Cycle. In lean strategy deployment, the PDCA cycle is used iteratively to drive continuous improvement and to ensure that activities and processes are aligned with the organisation's strategic goals. It provides a structured approach for problem-solving, learning, and adapting to changes in the business environment, ultimately helping organisations achieve their objectives more effectively and efficiently. Each stage of the PDCA cycle plays a crucial role in effectively improving the strategy deployment process.
An automotive manufacturing company has set a strategic objective to reduce their production lead times by 20% and improve their on-time delivery performance to 95%. This strategic objective aligns with their ultimate goal of increasing customer satisfaction and expanding their client base. To achieve this, the company has decided to break down the objectives into different departments within the organisation. The main focus is to refine processes, such as production line enhancements. This action plan was developed through consecutive discussions. Using lean strategy deployment principles and tools like the Hoshin Kanri X matrix helps to visualise Key Performance Indicators against each process, whereby the automotive manufacturing organisation can reduce lead times and improve on-time delivery, thus delivering greater value to their customers and giving the company a competitive edge in the market.
Lean strategy deployment serves as a powerful framework for ensuring that an organisation's strategic objectives are translated into actionable plans and that everyone within the organisation is aligned and engaged in working towards those objectives. It helps organisations remain agile, adapt to changing circumstances, and continuously improve their processes and performance. Remember that lean strategy deployment is an ongoing process that requires commitment, communication, and a willingness to adapt. It's not a one-time event but a dynamic approach to achieving and sustaining organisational success.