Many of us have been there. As the end of one year draws to a close, we begin thinking about what we want to accomplish the following year. We might reflect on what we accomplished in the past year, perhaps even chastising ourselves for not achieving some of the goals we set at the beginning of the year. The idea of starting a new year with fresh goals is enticing.
In a webinar with KaiNexus that I gave earlier this year, I talked about how the ‘hoshin kanri’ approach to strategy has been more effective for me than traditional New Year’s resolutions. I am still convinced this is the case based on the results of my 2019 hoshin. Now, with an additional learning cycle, I am working on improving my approach while building my 2020 hoshin plan.
There were several main aspects of my hoshin approach that I have modified based on this year’s experience.
- Need for for a deeper reflection on the previous year. There are two main purposes for reflecting on the previous year prior to building the plan for the upcoming year. The first is to understand what did not go well so that what is within our control can be mitigated moving forward to avoid running into similar challenges. The second is to gain perspective on what went well so that we can leverage our successes into future gains.
As I was developing my 2019 hoshin plan, I did a semi-reflection on the previous year, but this was primarily a static evaluation based on my current circumstances. The method that I used was to identify the ‘gaps’ and ‘opportunities’ that applied at the particular time that I did the reflection. While this was valuable, it did not encompass the entire experience of the past year with all of its ups and downs. A more holistic approach would have given me more information to use moving forward into the new year.
This year, I replaced ‘Gaps and Opportunities’ with ‘Reflection on Previous Year’ covering the following questions:
- What went well the previous year?
- What did not go well?
- What were the key lessons / takeaways?
Here’s a snapshot of my reflection:
I found these approach to be much more effective in identify key lessons to apply to the upcoming year.
- Need for intermediate step linking annual initiatives to activities. In my 2019 hoshin, I jumped directly from the two annual initiatives into the activities needed to accomplish those initiatives. However, this read like a long ‘to-do’ list. For 2020, I created an additional step of creating ‘Focus Areas’ which are categories of activities that link to the initiatives. For example:I have not tested this method yet, but I can say that it did help with breaking down the initiatives into more manageable groups from which to determine activities.
- The metrics were not entirely indicative of desired results. While it’s advisable to try to quantify progress wherever possible, it’s important that the metrics selected reflect the results we want to achieve. For example I set a target for the number of books that I wanted to read each month. That’s a good metric, but it only measures a part of what I really wanted to achieve – gaining and apply the knowledge learned from the books. In 2020, I added the additional metric of adding entries to a ‘Learning Log’ to show that I had actually internalized and applied the knowledge I gained from books and other sources:
It will be important to regularly review the log to ensure that the lessons learned are solidified and continue to be applied.
- Activity plan was too detailed and micro-level. I admit – I’m a recovering engineer with an aptitude for making things overly-complicated and getting into the weeds. The activity plan on my 2019 hoshin delves deeply into the planned timing and rate of completion for each of the activities:
This was my attempt to create a tracking system for monitoring and holding my self accountable for progress. However, this micro-level approach contradicted the purpose of the hoshin in providing high level direction and summary. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds and lose sight of the overall strategy. In addition, the monthly quantification did not apply as much to some of the activities. For example, ‘Grow C/I network by 50%’ was an annual goal that was challenging to break down month-by-month – some months had more opportunities than others.
For my 2020 activities, I replaced the detailed month-by-month execution plan with an overall timing and status. I have separate progress trackers for activities that would benefit from more frequent monitoring. For example, I have a Reading Log that shows which books I have read and which I plan to read. It’s simple to get a count of the books read to update the overall progress status each month, and it gives an opportunity to provide visibility into current and upcoming books.
I believe that these modifications to my hoshin planning approach to 2020 will yield better results. I look forward to the new year and another cycle of learning.
Note: If you would like a copy of the hoshin template that I used, you can send an email request to me at email@example.com.