Sunday, November 30, 2014

Policy Deployment At It's Best

You have probably read in my blog that sometimes i believe we over-think the concept of Hoshin Kanri (direction management or policy deployment). According to the world's most foremost authority, Wikipedia, hoshin kanri is defined as "a method to capture and cement strategic goals as well as flashes of insight about the future and develop the means to bring them into reality".

When I suggest we sometimes over-think it, I believe we sometimes get caught up in forms, software and templates. Perhaps a simpler way to think about it is this: can the senior leaders gain agreement on a game plan, and then make sure every single solitary team member knows exactly what the game plan is, WHY it is important, how we will execute it, and how will we know if we are successful. If I walk up to anyone in your company and ask, "what is important now?", will I get the same answer from everyone?

I teach my customers that in order to do "policy deployment" well, all you need to think about and do are these 4 things: urgency, teach, kaizan & metrics.

Now let's talk briefly about the National Football League. You non-sports people don't need to click off here, because I am talking about the NFL as a 37 billion dollar business. That is the combined value of the 32 teams. NFL teams consist of a CEO (the Head Coach), 25 or so middle managers (the coaching staff), and 53 employees (the active players), and they generate income through game attendance, league television deals, and merchandise. The bottom lime is that the more you win, the more your team earns. And, as a lean zealot, I contend that the better your team does policy deployment, the more they win. Let me explain.

Let's say you just played a game on Sunday. After the game, the management team (the coaching staff) will work through the night and through Monday to finalize a game plan for the following week's opponent. You can bet that there are differences of opinion, but at some point, "my way" needs to become "our way." When the team shows up for work on Tuesday morning, the management team is in synch and there is no room for skepticism, the management team will teach the game plan with energy and optimism. There is a sense of urgency because the entire team realizes that the competition this week has completely different strengths and weaknesses than the competition last week, and the game will be played next Sunday whether we are prepared or not, and strategies that got us to today probably won't get us to tomorrow.

The best prepared game plan in the world is useless if it is not shared and taught to every single team member. The Group Leaders (Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Coordinators) work to make sure the Team Leaders (the position coaches) understand the game plan and ensure that their individual parts are well understood and presented to team members so there will be no uncertainty at kickoff next Sunday. Once the players and coaches hit the practice field, the kaizan work begins. They will focus on continuously improving some of the adjustments for next Sunday, as well as work to eliminate the problems from last week. Every employee has been evaluated and graded, and every single employee knows exactly what they need to do to improve to help the team be successful. Every practice is filmed, and the findings of the film review are shared immediately as a teaching tool.

As the game plan changes each week, so do the metrics that are critical to success. As the game unfolds, the metrics will dictate in-game adjustments (more kaizan). 

The team that holds up the Lombardi Trophy in February is simply the team that uses the strengths and improves their weaknesses better than their competitors, week in and week out. It's all about continuous improvement and policy deployment. 

(I hope I didn't over-think this).

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