Top 7 Salient Features of Kanri Strategy Execution Process

Kanri is the strategy execution process in the Japanese approach of Hoshin Kanri. To my knowledge, it is the only approach that seamlessly integrates strategy creation to its execution. Considering that this Japanese method has been in existence for 60~70 years now, it is interesting to know that originators of Hoshin Kanri have given equal (or even more) emphasis on strategy execution way back then. When you learn about the salient features of Kanri Strategy Execution Process, you will be able to appreciate this.

  • Diligent Review Mechanisms: First and foremost feature is existence of diligent review mechanisms in Kanri process. None of us are new to reviews, but kanri process focuses in appropriate forums, agenda and duration for these reviews. More importantly it emphasizes on the consistency of reviews. A cathedral has to be built one stone at a time. In the same way, organization goals have been accomplished by systematically achieving one milestone after another. Kanri review mechanism is built to enhance the chances of success in execution of strategies.
  • Course-correction : Today business environment is very dynamic. Strategic plans created in the beginning of the year become redundant in a quarter or two. In order to assess the changes in the environment and keep strategies and strategic initiatives relevant, Kanri strategy execution process has built-in mechanisms such as quarterly strategic reviews and forced re-prioritization that ensure the organization remains concurrent and takes timely >course corrections. Kanri is a compass that guides the captain of ship to alter course to compensate for strong currents and winds, there by reaching the destination.
  • Fact-based Decisions : I have personally reviewed the strategic projects of many organizations. Frankly, I find them hollow. The importance with which they are conceived by the leadership team is missing in their action plans. Most strategic projects are wish lists in an action plan format. The team uses a trial and error method to accomplish the objective of the project. As a result the success rate of strategic projects are very low. But the real problem is lack of systematic and fact/data based analysis prior to formulation of action plan. As a result, the team works on trivial things and miss the vital factors that would deliver breakthrough results. Among organizations practicing Hoshin Kanri, the of use A3 approach for this conducting a fact based analysis of the problem is distinct.
  • Power of Gemba : ‘Gemba’ in Japanese refers to actual work place(field). Usually strategic plans are created and reviewed in boardrooms. But Hoshin Kanri emphasizes the role of creating and managing strategic plans through insights from Gemba. So, both during Hoshin planning and Kanri strategic execution process, the leaders have to visit Gemba for insights. In fact the kanri monthly reviews happen in the Gemba. This gets leaders close to ground reality.
  • Visual Control : Like many other Japanese management approaches, Hoshin Kanri relies on visual control mechanisms (Mieruka in Japanese). Starting from the X-matrix to the Project Plans and Traffic Light dashboards depicting the status of strategic projects, visual control is a key means for driving strategic plans.
  • Sustenance of results : One of the reasons for people to believe that execution is an issue is because strategic projects don’t sustain on long run. Kanri Strategy Execution process not only enables to deliver breakthrough results but it also focuses on sustenance of those results. Mechanisms to sustain and monitor the outcomes of strategic projects are given equal importance. Visual traffic light dashboards are updated for the leaders to understand the progress of strategic meetings.
  • Resource Optimization : Execution issues such as lack of participation from team members, resources being too busy to attend strategic project meetings and many such trivial issues are addressed in Kanri weekly and monthly reviews. The means of drawing consensus on these issues is by using ‘Catch-ball’ method.
About the Author:

Nilakantasrinivasan aka Neil helps a range of large enterprises in services and manufacturing, with particular emphasis on execution of business & functional strategies using Hoshin Kanri. He can be contacted at

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