How to configure KaiNexus for Hoshin Kanri

Hoshin Kanri, translated as “strategy deployment” or “management compass,” is a Lean methodology for aligning strategy, measures, and improvement efforts across an entire organization. This means that every person from the front-line staff to senior executives understands the organization’s primary goals and strives to reach those goals through continuous improvement activities, both large and small. Hoshin Kanri steers an organization toward long-term strategic objectives and intermediate goals while maintaining and improving key business processes and results through systematic planning and good organizational alignment.

The visualization and organization of the strategy, goals, and improvement activities all play critical roles in a successful deployment:



When decisions are made behind closed doors and metrics are hidden under lock and key, it’s impossible to get your entire organization working toward your strategic goals. Companies that succeed in organization-wide strategy deployment do so because they recognize that visibility is critical to alignment, leading to better performance.

KaiNexus makes it possible to attain the level of transparency that you need to achieve organizational alignment with a two-pronged approach: employees and leaders.



The first rule of making sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction (toward your “True North”) is to make sure that every person in the organization knows exactly what the goals are (at a local level and for the organization as a whole), how the organization is tracking to those goals, and how their work contributes to reaching them.

KaiNexus gives employees insight into the impact of their improvements, whether they’re making small, daily improvements or contributing to larger strategic projects.  It also makes it easy to keep track of their responsibilities, validate their work, and improve at a faster rate. This means that you successfully engage more people in improving to reach your strategic goals and empower each of those people to implement more improvements.


Leaders are responsible for maintaining the direction and energy of your strategy deployment efforts. In order to do this, you need to make sure that leaders aren’t overburdened so that they have time to engage, coach, and develop employees. One way to ease the administrative burden of leading an improvement culture is by increasing access to information and automating reports.

KaiNexus gives leaders insight into which employees and teams are contributing to your organization’s improvement efforts (and which aren’t) and makes it easy to get a read on the health of your improvement culture. This transparency increases accountability which ensures that improvements are kept on track while allowing leaders to spot areas that need coaching or recognition. In this way, KaiNexus shapes leadership behaviors that promote continuous improvement.


It should be noted that this increased visibility should not be used to eliminate in-person communication, but rather, to enhance it by ensuring that all parties are kept up to date between meetings. This results in meetings that are more productive in that, instead of giving simple unidirectional progress updates, you can use that valuable meeting time for discussion, debate, and decision-making. KaiNexus also breaks down silos between distributed teams and makes cross-functional collaboration part of the standard workflow of improvement.



A key component of Hoshin Kanri is the way your information is organized. Your KaiNexus configuration must make it possible to identify how each Improvement and Project relates to each other and to your strategic goals. Whether your improvement methodology consists of any combination of daily improvement, A3s, VSM events, rapid improvement events, workouts, or Lean projects, there needs to be a direct line of sight between each initiative and your strategic goals and metrics.

Some organizations attempt to organize this information with a combination of spreadsheets, printouts on a wall, and reporting tools. But, anyone who has tried these approaches knows that this is an administrative nightmare, too easily resulting in outdated information, poor visibility, low engagement, and a ton of wasted time.

KaiNexus makes it easier to achieve the structured, precise alignment that you need for Hoshin Kanri.


Top-Down Improvement

In order to ensure that your top-down improvement initiatives proceed on track and result in measurable gains toward strategic goals, you need to map out the relationships between each of them.

This is done in KaiNexus by nesting Projects, with a top-level Project for each goal and each subsequently smaller initiative cascading down from there. In this way, you can see, for example, how a Kaizen event or Lean project rolls up into a broader Value Stream transformation, and how that fits into the big picture of your organizational goals.

Another important concept in Hoshin Kanri is organizational focus. Too many organizations struggle to improve because they have too many “top priority” initiatives. This often leads to chaos and confusion, with people being pulled in too many directions and not enough getting completed. KaiNexus can help leaders prioritize the improvements that really are “must do, can’t fail” as they go through annual cycles of the Hoshin Planning process.


Bottom-Up Improvement

When an employee comes up with an opportunity for improvement, it’s important to track when the bottom-up effort impacts one of your organization’s key strategy deployment Pillars.

This is done in KaiNexus by tagging Improvements with the relevant Strategy Deployment Attribute. In this way, you can see how each bottom-up improvement helps you attain your True North objectives.


How to:

KaiNexus empowers your entire organization to participate in your Hoshin Kanri deployment. There are only four elements that you need to master:



Projects group improvements together, allowing you to organize your top-down work into groups that can be nested to further delineate relationships. Recall that you can configure different types of projects (VSM, RIE, Lean Project, PDSA, etc) made up of teams.

The different types of Projects can help create the cascading nature of the way the top-down work is all related to each other. For instance, you can configure KaiNexus to support your Goal/Strategy/Tactics vernacular, as well as your VSM, RIE, and Green or Black Belt Classes. Regardless of what large scale efforts are going on in your organization, we can configure KaiNexus to support them and show how they fit into the bigger picture.



Improvements are the base unit of work in KaiNexus. They range from large units of work (e.g. A3s) to small ones (e.g. Just Do Its). Each completed improvement includes a resolution that logs the benefit to the organization.

The benefit of taking the time to complete a Resolution for every improvement is two-fold:

    1. It changes habits to enforce making sure that every Improvement benefits the organization in at least some small way, and
    2. It creates a standard for how the benefits are being recorded.

In this way, KaiNexus provides a standard way to aggregate the impact of your improvement culture across the organization. It allows you to compare locations and get insight into top-down and bottom-up improvement.

Below is an example of the impact summary of an organization’s 2016 strategic plan. We can easily see the number of Improvements, the change rate, and the qualitative and quantitative benefits that the organization is seeing as a result of their strategic plan.



You may have created attributes such as State (e.g. Behind Schedule) or Priority (e.g. Low) to help you quickly group initiatives and take action.

Attributes can also be used to categorize improvements to tie them back to your True North, such as in the example below with the “Strategic Initiative” attribute. In this way, it becomes easy to see exactly which improvements are contributing to each initiative.



One of the benefits of improvement boards is that they become a place to gather to discuss the work and review KPIs. You don’t lose that ability with KaiNexus; by displaying your boards on screens rather than paper, a room full of people can not only see project lists and metrics, they can also dive into the details to get more information in real time as needed.

Projects, Improvements, KPIs, and other charts can be shown on digital KaiNexus Boards to organize all of the work relating to a specific workflow, topic, or goal. You can configure your boards to show the relationships between Projects, Improvements, and KPIs in any way that makes sense for your organization. Nesting your Boards under other Boards further improves the visual organization around how every improvement initiative cascades up into your “True North” pillars.

KaiNexus makes it possible to drill down into the details of any Project or Improvement to get updates, identify problems, and deploy resources. Compare that to a physical wall with printouts of Projects, Improvements, and metrics or searching for files buried in a shared drive somewhere. Without KaiNexus, your visibility is limited by your ability to walk or drive to each board, and once there, you’re often unable to drill down into the details. Additionally, Improvements and Projects appear on all applicable boards, breaking down silos across the organization.


Strategy Deployment

Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of what an example of an actual strategy deployment Board looks like in KaiNexus:

    1. Create a top-level strategic deployment Board that shows all of your True North goals and measures at the highest level, and can drill down into each subsequent level to see how it’s contributing to achieving those objectives.
    2. Set up your boards to display your KPIs next to the corresponding improvements and projects. Aside from the normal benefits of visual management, this setup draws a parallel between the work and the impact and makes it easier to identify the work that’s driving improvement.


Leadership Boards

Successful KaiNexus customers also use Boards to help develop standardized work for leaders. There are a number of ways to do this; the guiding principles should be to keep it as simple as possible and to create a standard. This is just one method that we’ve seen be successful:

    • Create your top level Board. This will be a public Board for tracking True North objectives.
    • Create your nesting structure of Boards based on location and/or objective. We have seen both be successful. 
    • Create your Leader standardized work boards. This can be done by creating one row on a Board for each key leader in your organization (CEO, COO, etc.) or by creating one Board for each key leader.
    • Create cards that show both the relevant KPIs and Projects/Improvements.

      In the example shown below, the first two cards on each row show the two most important metrics (goal state and current state) for each of those leaders.

      The last card on each row shows all of the Improvements or Projects that will help the leader meet those goals.
    • Organize your Boards to show how improvements flow up to your True North objectives. Typically, organizations that have a strong strategy deployment culture already and are migrating the work to KaiNexus will create the Board structure first, while those that are early in the process use the deployment process to help refine their Hoshin work and develop their Board structure as they go.


Huddle Boards / Daily Management
The best way to keep your front line connected with your strategic goals is to utilize Huddle Boards in your daily improvement management. This allows everyone to directly participate in improvement and contribute toward these high-level strategies.

Increase accountability and communication by meeting regularly to review your Boards. Each leader should meet with the team that owns the Boards nested underneath their own, ensuring that the work of one leader rolls up into the metrics of the one above them.

    • Public Boards

      Display your digital boards in common areas on large monitors as needed to ensure that everyone is connected and aware of progress. These can replace the paper boards (or entire walls) that many organizations use to display their Hoshin Kanri strategy because they:

        • Can be displayed anywhere.
        • Can be updated from anywhere in real time.
        • Provide a detailed history of goals and progress.
        • Enable you to get a comprehensive overview AND drill down into the details of individual project and improvements instantly, in one place.

These Boards should be public so that anyone from senior leaders to the front-line employees is able to get a status update and see how their daily improvement work directly impacts progress toward True North.