Hoshin | Management by Objectives

A term not used that much in Western businesses but often practised. This article will describe the concept of Hoshin and its application in the working environment.

What is Hoshin?

Hoshin when translated from Japanese to English basically means “heart of the ocean”. To expand on this term it means that every individual and/or organisation tries its very best into everything that we do, to try and improve and increase performance to a desired level. The level itself can be fairly difficult to set but usually it is either based on the level your organisation needs to be at in order to match or beat the competition and to achieve efficiency and thus cost saving.

The Improvement Cycle

When an organisation intends to improve certain aspects of what it does then of course it will need a detailed plan. Hoshin’s structured approach uses the PDCA improvement cycle. It means “Plan” the course of action you need or wish to take. Remember to do this in detail. This area may take longer than you think to construct but be methodical and try and cover every aspect in respect of the area you wish to improve.

The next action is fairly obvious and that is “Do”, this is the time to roll your sleeves up and get stuck into implementing your plan. When you are “doing” your process you should always continually "Check" you are on the right path and are not deviating from where you want to be.

It is very easy both as an individual and as an organisation to be easily distracted from the path you wish to take. The continual checking against the original plan helps maintain your course. The final is to "Act" and ensure the plan is succeeded. The Hoshin Kanri approach provides a theoretical path that helps achieve this. If you go into Google and put in “Hoshin Kanri Approach” and switch to Google images you can see some examples of charts there.


Organisations that follow the Hoshin theory more often than not hold annual meetings to strategically plan their paths forward for the next year by wetting targets and objectives. Project plans are reviewed and agreed, at the beginning of the year and with the PDCA cycle in place they are regularly reviewed. The process has two main elements, one being strategic and the other more of a daily or weekly routine of review and act.

Improve Business

The world currently faces on of its biggest economic challenges in the past century and businesses that are well organised and focused will stand a better chance of surviving. Hoshin can be very value adding but as with virtually all business plans it needs the firm support of the leaders of an organisation. If you are a leader then ensure you execute the plan if you are an employee then make sure you contribute to the plan. Focus is the key.

Quality Moving Forward

If you have read the articles on Kaizen and Lean Thinking then Hoshin acts as a methodology of pulling all of these concepts together and ensuring that the end result is achieved (or if not achieved at least understood).


Whilst a plan can see you through your current year of business stand back and try to look beyond the immediate future. Many businesses intend to be around for many years therefore do not just plan for today.

Plan for the future and look at your 3 or 5 year strategic plans. Use Hoshin to drive forward a detailed objective plan that will help guide you to the place you wish to be in the mid to ling term future. It’s a step by step process, follow the steps in sequence.


Hoshin is basically a business plan, often created once per year and implemented as the year goes by. It acts as a methodology to pull together many business quality theories and as the plan has clear objectives to meet then as long as you stay focused you can see where your path lies and are able to steer the business to meet the final aims and objectives.

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