Mind Maps are basically tree diagrams that can take on a variety of forms. After World War 2, Japan used Tree charts (called Hoshin Plans) as a top down management planning tool to create, drive and implement the biggest quality revolution the world has ever seen. Today, Hoshin Plans are also called Hoshin Kanri, Vision Deployment Plans and other names. Hoshin Plans, which are essentially Mind Maps, were elevated in Japan to one of the 7 most important Management Tools. They were used for annual strategic planning for entire companies and at lower levels for department level strategic planning and individual project management, tracking and execution. That detailed level of planning was seldom seen in the western world at the time and it is still considered to be a best practice method of planning today. Mind Mapping software offers very user-friendly and rapid creation and modification of the Plans, which was one of the original barriers that blocked its widespread acceptance in the western world. This article will give basics on Hoshin Planning and show they can be created with MindGenius Mind Mapping software.History of the Quality Revolution in Japan
It is undisputed that Japan created the biggest quality revolution that the world has probably ever seen. This quality revolution happened after World War 2. Lean and Total Quality Management were the top-level initiatives that were used to create this quality transformation. At the core of such successes seen in Japanese companies are a variety of tools and techniques they used. In Japan, some of their main tools were summarized and popularized as:
Under-appreciated Hoshin Planning in the West
A good example of cherry-picking certain tools from Japan and avoiding others is the Hoshin Plan Tree Diagram. This tool was very slowly adopted in the West but it is still, even today, rather unpopular. The Deming Quality Award was started in Japan in 1950 to recognize progressive companies who departed from traditional and ineffective ways of management to the successful management style known as TQM (Total Quality Management). All companies who won the Deming Award in the 70’s and 80’s reported that Hoshin Planning was at the center of their management style.
The Hoshin Plan is often considered to be too detailed, difficult to create or use. It was often difficult and time consuming to construct and modify these Plans in popular software tools such as Excel and PowerPoint. I will make the bold statement that if user-friendly software like MindGenius was available when Hoshin Planning was first discovered in the West, the widespread use of this Planning tool might have been more popular. I say this because this powerful and effective Plan is extremely easy and fast to create and edit with MindGenius software.
Employee Empowerment versus Management Planning
Japanese-style Employee Empowerment is also a widely misunderstood concept outside of Japan. Too often, it is thought that employee empowerment can replace top management planning, direction and vision setting. However, empowered activities must be in line with management's top-level Vision, Goals and Objectives, not replace them to avoid uncoordinated chaos. Not every company can afford to pursue Six Sigma quality levels targeting only 3.4 defects per million products produced. Big problems can arise when the void of management vision and direction is filled in with the vision of quasi-empowered employees who invent their own agenda for the company, which is not coordinated with other employees nor management.
Hoshin Plan Basics
As shown below, such Plans can be used for top level management strategic planning and all the way down to individual project management, planning and execution.
A Hoshin Plan should incorporate 5 levels of detailed work breakdown structure as shown below. At the detailed task level, personal task assignments, due dates and red, yellow and green color codes for the status are recommended for a good Hoshin plan. MindGenius software is especially suited to support such planning details.
Here are some explanations of the terms used in the above graph, which are used for Hoshin Planning.
All entries on a Hoshin should be full sentences with action verbs and nouns that are fully understandable by anyone reading the plan. At least 2 goals should be created for a vision statement and at least 2 objectives for each goal statement and so on, all the way down to the detailed task level. Any gaps in the tree down to the detailed task level would be a sign of a plan that is not supported by real actions in the organization.
The following Hoshin Plan template shows what a 3 Goal Hoshin Plan could look like. The number of sub-branches on a real Hoshin Plan will vary for each plan but they can be easily created and modified in the Mind Mapping software. The power of the logic in a Hoshin Plan is that the creator is motivated to ensure that each goal, objective, task and detailed task are supported with real resourced activities and individuals. When such support is absent, it becomes very visually obvious that the plan is not supported by all of the detailed activities and resources required to make the activity successful.
The next Hoshin plan shows a company vision that is at risk of being realized, due to gaps in the plan and the amount of red for those detailed actions that are documented. Such gaps in the plan are visually apparent on a Hoshin Plan. Other methods of strategic and project planning do not visually highlight inadequacies in the plan as a Hoshin Plan does.
Hoshin Plans are very detailed and useful company vision deployment tools that can be used to ensure that all functional departments have their goals aligned with each other to meet the larger vision of the company. These plans can also be used at the department and individual project level. The true test if a Hoshin Plan is correctly completed is quite visual in nature. If there are gaps in the plan down to the detailed task level and if resources are not assigned to detailed tasks or the status is red, the plan is at risk of supporting the vision of the company or project. Too many current project management techniques do not have this automatic visual feature to ensure that a project plan is robust or not.
It's time to conduct an honest SWOT analysis on the ever-popular SWOT Analysis Technique, which provides an assessment on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of an entire organization, a department or a specific process in the organization. The critique I will provide on the classic SWOT tool is that it does not look at the target of the analysis from a cascading system perspective. It thereby misses assessments of critical elements of the top-down cascading and circular system, which starts with Leadership, then Culture, Processes, Performance Metrics, Responses to Critical Issues and Learning Feedback Loops to Leadership.
The Hyper-connected and Cascading behavior of Global Risks
The World Economic Forum (WEF) publishes a Global Risk report since 2006. They plead the case that the more inter-connected our world becomes via a globalized economy, social media, the internet, etc, the more vulnerable the whole world is to any weak links in the system. Their reports include constant references to the inter-connected risks that can cause global system breakdowns. Their descriptions of the potential threats include combinations of slow-building and creeping risks that are hyper-connected, capable of linking to create unforeseen and high energy cascade effects that can create tipping points into a perfect storm with high local and even global fallout.
The Hyper-connected and Cascading behavior of Internal Risks
My independent research into the causes of historical disasters, which started in 2004, has identified certain cascading principles and mechanisms of how the combined effects of underestimated internal risks can wreak havoc and self-destruction even without the help of external forces. If your SWOT ignores the cascading and hyper-connected nature of internal and external risks, your efforts could be futile. Too often risks are assumed to approach from over the horizon from the outside. This mindset ignores the fact that most organizational failures stem from internal risks and a dysfunctional work culture. The triggers of such havoc can emanate from the top of the organization and quietly ripples through the organizational cascades to create undesirable events.
A SWOT Analysis on the SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis is a mini-risk assessment and mitigation brainstorm tool. However, its strengths will become weaknesses if the assessments are superficial. If the SWOT is reconfigured to meet the realities of a hyper-connected and cascading world, this tool can be very insightful.
What follows is a short SWOT analysis on the SWOT analysis tool to assess its capabilities to pursue true Disruptive Innovation. This exercise can be viewed as a self-diagnostic of a SWOT:
Summary of the SWOT Analysis on the SWOT Analysis
A good SWOT should be provocative and assess the sensibility on your own strategies, track your efforts to solicit and address internal taboo talk rules, monitor employee frustration levels and assess your internal culture’s momentum towards success or failure. Most importantly, do not forget to gather multiple perceptions on the above opinions from Leadership, mid management and non-management employees. If the perceptions are vastly different, determine why the same people under the same roof are describing the same company in very different manners.
Transforming the SWOT into the foundation for Disruptive Innovation
It must be stressed that an energized SWOT is only the foundation of a good strategic plan. It is not the final analysis or strategic planning tool. The annual corporate strategic planning cycle is usually time consuming, interactive and it must get off to a good start with the right tone if anything of value is to be expected of such efforts.
SWOT Expansion to include Internal Cascading Risks
The biggest opportunities to achieving strategic objectives lies in the ability of leadership to identify, assess and manage the internal cascading connections and cause and effect relationships that exist. The main areas of internal hyper-connected top-to-bottom cascading elements and loops include:
Figure 1. Each element of internal cascades should be SWOTed separately with candid and honest inputs from all levels of employees
SWOT Expansion to include External Cascading Risk Assessments
External risks need to be listed, rated for interconnectedness and assessed for their impact and likelihood of impacting the business. This offers a good start for subsequent strategic risk management efforts. The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Report offers a good reference to use as a starting point for possible risks to consider. Separate SWOT analysis should be carried out for the 6 main areas of global risks:
Organizations and the world are hyper-connected communities that are exposed to threatening invisible cascade, ripple and domino effects. Today’s Risks can easily leap past national borders, firewalls and other security safeguards and trigger very unexpected circumstances that can threaten the reputation and existence of the business. Modern applications of the SWOT analysis should consider this complex and cascading nature in which the world now operates. A thorough SWOT Analysis can be a good start for any level of Strategic planning, including the ultimate wish of any organization, which is to create disruptive innovation and value that will ignite the passions of its employees and customers.