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.