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X Matrix for Strategy Deployment

Hoshin Kanri’s X-matrix communicates strategic goals throughout the company and evaluates the ongoing process. Align the long-term needs with strategic initiatives, and identify where you need to improve.


Long-Term Goals

Define long-term goals. Where you want to see the organisation in the next three to five years.

Annual Objectives

Develop the annual objective. Detail what the organisation wants to achieve for the current year.

Top-Level Priorities

Define and develop the different activities you need to do to achieve the annual results.

Metrics to Improve

Continuously monitor key performance indicators to identify metrics to improve. Align them with the planned objectives.

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Various business, government, and non-profit organisations use the balanced scorecard to align day-to-day activities with enterprise vision, mission, and values.

Seven Steps in Hoshin Kanri Planning




Establish a vision, mission, and core values for organisational success. Visualise where the organisation is headed to.


Develop Breakthrough Objectives:

Identify and develop breakthrough objectives that the organisation plans to achieve in 3 to 5 years.


Develop Annual Objectives:

Develop annual goals. Breakdown the breakthrough objectives and divide them between departments, teams and individuals.


Deploy Annual Objectives:

Initiate action plans to deploy annual objectives. Divide and assign objectives to the relevant individuals/teams with the right skills.


Implementation Annual Objectives:

Keep track of various KPIs associated with annual objectives and measure their progress.


Monthly Reviews:

Conduct monthly reviews to monitor progress. Check how well the organisation is meeting the set objectives.


Annual Review:

Annually review the objectives, action plans and progress of planned actions. Identify drawbacks and ways to improve.

How Organisations Benefit Using X-Matrix?

Hoshin Kanri X-matrix eliminates waste that occurs due to poor communication and inconsistent direction. The ultimate aim of X-matrix is to align strategic goals and plans with organisational initiatives and action plans and to drive continuous improvement across the organisation. Using X Matrix, organisations can

  • Cascade goals more effectively
  • Improve total engagement
  • Assure better organisational alignment
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Develop effective strategic plan
  • Eliminate roadblocks to success.
  • Improve communication
  • Simplify decision-making
  • Ensure continuous improvement

What is the hoshin kanri x matrix?

A Hoshin Kanri X matrix is a powerful visualisation tool that can manage detailed strategic planning. The template contains the goals and strategies of the organisation, how they are to be aligned with the strategic initiatives, and what metrics need to be improved.
A Hoshin matrix will have four key quadrants :

  • Long Term Goals(South)- 3-5 year breakthrough objectives
  • Annual Objectives(AO)(West)
  • Top-level Improvement Priorities(TLIP)(North)
  • Targets to Improve(TTI)(East)

At the corners of each matrix, the dependencies of activities are represented. The far right side visualises the people responsible for the plan implementation.

What is a Hoshin Kanri Catchball?


Hoshin Kanri catchball is one of the most efficient management methodologies that allow you to align your company’s goals and objectives with the team’s actions at all hierarchical levels of the organisation.
Hoshin Kanri catchball is the approach for creating and maintaining open feedback loops across all the levels of the organisational hierarchy by establishing a two-way stream of information sharing. Catchball has a vertical application. Here the top-level management sets the goals for the company and prepares the strategy proposal. They pass it like a ball to the lower levels and wait to receive feedback from them. Iterations occur before the agreement is reached.
The middle management then tosses the ball to the team leaders, and the process continues until the ball reaches the bottom of the pyramid. The main aim behind this process is to provide every team member working towards achieving these goals an opportunity to give input on their part and align the actions in a common direction that everyone shares. Though the executives throw down the strategy, the process improvements are tossed by the lower management levels and the regular team members. This gives a clear picture for the employees of how they fit into the bigger picture and how they connect to the organisation’s most important objectives. Benefits of applying the catch ball

  • Increase the engagement of the team in strategy planning
  • Continuous improvement
  • A better understanding of the practicality of the plans
  • People from multiple areas contribute to the analysis of the plan.

How to start practising a Catchball?

Follow the universal rules to make catchball a piece of your lean management tool kit.

  • Understand that catchball should be played by everyone who must contribute to the improvement process. The leader should ensure that everyone has an opportunity to hold the ball. Make sure that everybody understands that they belong to the same team, and even the smallest ideas and suggestions are encouraged.
  • After receiving the ball, he/she should be given enough time to study the plan and provide feedback before handing the ball to the next person or returning it to the leader. While holding the ball, the person needs to accept the ownership of their ideas and suggestions and ensure that it gets executed by the team.
  • A person who is not involved or is afraid of holding the responsibility of unsuccessful propositions dodges the ball instead of catching it.
  • The most important part of the catchball technique is finding the most suitable framework for passing the ball in the organisation. It can be through team meetings or one-to-one discussions, which the team finds comfortable and can bring value.

Why Hoshin Kanri?

A well-thought strategy and a relentless execution can only make your organisation withstand market competition. Aligning the employees with the goals can prove challenging even for small organisations. Here the effective implementation of Hoshin Kanri can help the team to develop a vision, list the breakthrough goals, and create a cascade of complementary goals by ensuring the alignment and providing necessary leverage for successful execution.
Hoshin Kanri otherwise known as Policy Deployment is the methodology that guarantees whether the company’s strategic goals are driving progress and action at every level within the organisation. They also eliminate the waste that comes from inconsistent direction and poor communication.
Hoshin Kanri seeks to get the team to act together simultaneously by aligning the company goals and strategy with the plans and tactics of the middle management and the performance of the employees in the operations. Simply put, Hoshin Kanri bridges the gap between strategy and execution by building alignment and focus.

How to implement Hoshin Kanri?

Follow the implementation steps to have a better idea of your strategic plans.

  • STEP 1 Creating a Strategic Plan
    The Hoshin Kanri or strategy deployment starts with strategic planning. This is usually an annual plan set by the top management to further the organisation’s long-term goals. A well-crafted plan it should deal with even minor critical issues.
    Keep in mind the following while creating the plan.
    • Focus on Five Goals at a time: Focusing on a smaller number of goals makes the achievement of the goals create the feeling of progress rather than disbanding the success across a dozen goals.
    • Put Effectiveness first: Effectiveness is doing the right things. Efficiency, on the other hand, is doing things right. Strategic goals need to be effective; if the goal does not have the right impact, it is not strategic.
    • Evolutionary and Revolutionary goals: Goals can be both evolutionary in that the incremental goals are usually achieved through continuous improvement. They can be revolutionary because they can bring about breakthrough changes with a dramatic scope. Both are essential forms of advancement.
    • Get a hierarchical agreement: Though the higher management is responsible for developing strategic planning, discussions with the middle management can be beneficial as the additional perspectives and feedback can help the goals become stronger. Shared responsibility is also created here.
    • Set the KPIs carefully: KPIs track the progress towards the goals. Choose your KPIs with care as they have the significant capacity to drive the behaviour.
    • Own the goal: Every goal should have an owner or a facilitator who can drive the plan to a successful position.
  • STEP 2 Developing Tactics
    The mid-level managers develop the tactics and plan to accomplish the goals laid down by the top management effectively. Through the catchball, an up and down exchange of ideas occurs, ensuring the team understands the strategic goals well, there is a proper alignment between the strategy and tactics, and the KPIs are relevant and significant. Tactics vary through the process of fulfilling the goals; in that case, a regular review of the progress should be done.
  • STEP 3 Take Action
    The actions in implementing the tactics laid down by the managers occur on the shop floor. Goals and plans are transformed into the results here. The shopfloor forms the real Gemba, and the managers, therefore, make sure that they should closely connect to the activity at this level.
  • STEP 4 Review and Adjust As the catchball passes the information from the top management, there is an equal responsibility to share the progress and results in the other direction. The flow of this information closes the loop and controls and adjusts the entire process. Reviewing progress should be done regularly, and this should provide a platform for the adjustment of the tactics and their associated operational details.

What are the advantages of using the Hoshin Kanri X Matrix for strategic planning?

  • Envisioning long-term strategies and aligning the goals with the actions.
  • Creation of connection between organisational alignment and individual accountability.
  • Prioritisation of the important tasks.
  • Transparency in the entire project
  • Connecting to other lean tools such as kanban in facilitating the outcome.
  • Enable the team to define and develop SMART goals.

Is Hoshin Kanri a lean tool?

Hoshin Kanri is the lean tool used for strategy deployments in the organisation. Hoshin Kanri (Ho-method, shin-compass and Kanri- management) is the policy management tool that sets the direction of improvement initiatives and integrates the organisational strategy.

What are Hoshin pillars?


The guiding principles of Hoshin Kanri or the Hoshin pillars help organisations to define their strategic long-term breakthrough objectives. The five Hoshin pillars are:

  • Communicated Objectives: A clear understanding of the organisation’s strategic objectives enables the teams to go in the same direction. This functions well only if the employees entrusted with the strategy execution are involved in defining the goals. An annual announcement of the yearly goals does not help. The reinforcement of the plans, status updates and regular reviewing of the goals should be done to produce an effective outcome.
  • Status analysis: To understand whether your team is moving on the right path, it is essential to know where you stand. Have a deep understanding of how the organisation operates in relation to the key strategic objectives.
  • Widespread Engagement: In the culture of improvement, employees will be entrusted, encouraged and equipped to make advancements that can facilitate Hoshin Kanri.
  • Prioritisation of resources: Identifying the opportunities that align with the strategic objectives and effectively executing them rather than creating a long list of options for improvement.
  • Performance Insights: Set the performance metrics that can review and track the progress and interfere if the progress slows down.

Why is Hoshin Kanri important?

Successful implementation of Hoshin Kanri ensures that the company’s improvement process aligns with the organisation’s strategies and goals. Along with the continuous monitoring of the progress and managing the outcomes, Hoshin Kanri assures that everyone is toiling towards the same goal and is rowing in the same direction.

How to read your Hoshin Kanri X matrix template?

Hoshin Kanri is a single-page visual of your objectives, measures and action items. Starting from the centre of the X matrix, first, fill in the vision and mission of the organisation in the centre, along with the strategies. Now let’s read the four arms of the X matrix template.

  • South → 3-5 year Breakthrough Objectives
    X_metrix_Step1 Primary, top-level goals developed by the senior leadership team are listed here. The top-level improvement priorities, targets and annual objectives contribute to these breakthrough objectives of the organisation.
  • East→Target to Improve
    X_metrix_Step2 List your action programs and initiatives that can aid you in getting where you want to be at the end of the year and eventually at the end of five years.
    Every team will have a distinct target to look up to, and this process needs to be executed with the help of catchball to make it smooth.
  • North→ Top level Improvement Priority
    X_metrix_Step3 Mark your action items on your high-level to-do list or top priorities to be achieved over the coming months.
  • West → Annual Objectives
    X_metrix_Step4 Record your measures by breaking down your big objectives into yearly outcomes for the teams. Set your path right for what you want to accomplish first and develop from there.
  • Far-East→ Responsible
    X_metrix_Step5 On the far right side, add the team members who hold the primary and the secondary responsibility for the top-level priorities.

How to build your Hoshin Kanri X matrix?


Suppose the organisation is implementing the matrix on a large scale. In that case, the leader of the organisation takes the responsibility of setting it up or else the manager does it at the team level.
Follow steps by which you can prepare your X matrix in your organisation:

  • STEP 1 Setting the strategic vision and goals
    While filling the X matrix template, the essential part of the diagram is the one closest to the centre. Start with your long-term goals, which are the breakthrough objectives of 3-5 years.
    List them at the bottom quadrant of the X matrix template. Every initiative will have many smaller tasks that the team needs to process before achieving the goal. Before jumping into long-term goals, make sure that your team has the capacity to achieve them. An easy way to calculate the total number of tasks is to break down every initiative into an execution plan to a possible minor task before listing the next long-term strategy in the matrix.
  • STEP 2 Defining the key mid-term objectives
    After setting the long-term goals, decide on your most important short- term objectives, e.g. within the time frame of one year and place them in the left quadrant of the Hoshin Matrix. To create the mid-term objectives, you need to accomplish what needs to keep you on track and start building from there.
  • STEP 3 Set short-term actions and metrics
    The next step is filling the top quadrant with the most important activities that the team need to complete to achieve the short-term goals. This is the basic to-do list of the manager in the forthcoming months. The right side quadrant is for the metrics that will keep you on the right track while executing the organisation’s goals. Make sure each of your lean teams has its own distinctive Key Performance Indicators, so be careful while putting down your key metrics.
  • STEP 4 Agree on the Key Performance Indicators
    This is the perfect time to apply the Hoshin Kanri catchball and share your plans with the rest of the stakeholders. Here agree on the most crucial metrics that need to be improved and list them. On the far east side, right next to the key metrics, is the list of the key stakeholders responsible for leading the completion of the activities in the matrix’s top quadrant. However, every member of the team is responsible for the successful delivery of the strategic goals, for more clarity, list only the person who is responsible for the activities, such as the team leaders, managers and process owners.
  • STEP 5 Connecting the dots
    In the final step, you can complete the picture by marking the dependencies between every listing in the matrix. Start with creating a legend of different correlation markers that will connect each quadrant to the next. Though you can have plenty of flexibility to customise them, it is better to keep it simple and add no more than three different ways of correlation.
  • For instance, the primary and the secondary ways of correlation can be distinguished using different figures like circles, squares etc. The matrix should remain transparent, and every person looking into it should understand the information inside it at a glance.

What are the challenges faced while using the Hoshin Kanri matrix?

The common challenges faced while using the traditional policy deployment matrix such as Excel or paper are:

  • Visibility of breakthrough objectives and annual targets will be missing.
  • Difficulty in visualising the overlapping of business activities between the distinct business areas in the larger organisations.

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