Newsletter – March, 2012

On My Mind

What? How? These are two simple questions that can guide strategic improvement activities. An objective is a statement that describes what you (organization, business unit, department, team, etc.) want to accomplish. It answers the “what” question and should be measurable: “Increase our customer satisfaction survey top-box response percentage from 34.8% to 60.0% by September 30, 2012.” The objective contains a performance metric, baseline, direction, target, and deadline. A strategy is a means to accomplish an objective. It answers the “how” question. It is common to develop multiple strategies for accomplishing an objective. For our example, analysis (not judgment) might reveal three promising strategies for accomplishing our objective: increase our on-time delivery percentage, decrease our external dppm, and decrease our mean customer response time. A policy consists of two components in Hoshin Kanri: an objective (what, target) and strategies (how, means). We are now in a position to assign owners and helpers to the strategies and deploy them throughout our organizational structure. This differentiates Hoshin Kanri from Target Deployment. The what and the how together are important.

Interesting Stories

Jeremy who? Jeremy Lin has emerged from relative obscurity on the New York Knicks bench to become an apparent professional basketball superstar. His Taiwanese ancestry and Harvard education give him a very unique and interesting personal background. It is always dangerous to evaluate performance based on short-term data—whether you are evaluating the performance of an organization, business unit, department, team, or individual. However, Jeremy Lin has demonstrated his superior skills over several weeks of play. It will be interesting to see if he can sustain this level of performance for the rest of the season and for the rest of his career. How many other athletes—or employees—could exhibit comparable success if only given the chance? The moral of this story is that organizations might have potential superstars waiting for their opportunity to shine in the bright lights. Some may never be discovered.

Company News

You can still register for two upcoming public seminars. Leading Continuous Improvement in Daily Management will be held March 28, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. Strategy Tools for Improvement Experts will be held April 25-26, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, MN. Please contact Charles at if you would like more information.

Intriguing Reads

The strategic moves made recently by companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have been fascinating to watch. Some companies—not those just listed—don’t appear to be faring very well in our contemporary global economy which values superior information technology skills combined with strategy skills. I recently re-read the Harvard Business Review article (March, 2001) written by Michael Porter titled, Strategy and the Internet. Ten years seems like an eternity in today’s business world. However, this paper is still an essential read today for any leader who wants his/her business to prosper in the current and future global economy.