X-matrix and the Catchball

homme tendant une balle de baseball

After presenting the philosophy and the main principles of Hoshin Kanri, I propose you two tools to exploit it well. The X-matrix is a tool that links each of the projects or activities to the objectives and vision. It serves to keep focus and choose the right levers to achieve results.

The catchball ensures the sharing of objectives at all levels. It is a participatory approach that accompanies the construction of the X matrix. It ensures team alignment, activities prioritization, the target integration and understanding. The catchball mobilizes everyone around the goal.


X-matrix diagram and content:

The X matrix is simple to build. You start from the bottom, describing your vision: this is level 1 of planning. Then, indicate what you are aiming for in the shorter term, which corresponds to level 2, 3 or 4 depending on your position in the organization. Finally, decline each of the objectives into projects or actions, which puts you at level 4 or 5 of the planning. The process starts with the strategic vision, going through tactical levels to the operational aspects.

The hardest part is to define the vision and choose the right goals and projects. We tend to always want to do too much. If the vision needs to be ambitious, the goals and projects must be realistic.

After your first planning exercise, you will have to deselect goals. Indeed, each goal will need several projects to be reached and your resources are limited. This is the most difficult part of the Hoshin Kanri approach. You must choose a maximum of three to five goals and define them SMART. The vision and goals are part of your strategy. They tell you where you want to go: it’s the Why. The projects are the tactical actions and really the path that you will take to get there: it is the How. Finally, the resulting action plans, with their deadlines and deliverable, are the vehicle: the What.


One of the ways to choose the right goals and the right projects is to get your employees involved. Thus, the Hoshin Kanri rests on frequent exchanges between the different levels of the organization.

The diagram below represents the dynamics to put in place.

Senior management defines the vision, sharing with its teams, including what it wants to put in place to achieve it. The team appropriates the information and then builds its own target and action plan. It then provides feedback to senior management levels to negotiate and prioritize activities. The idea is, of course, to do everything dynamically. The initial launch is a bit more demanding. But once the mechanism is in place, everything can be adjusted every three months, to adapt to the changing realities of the market in which the company evolves.

à retenir

Two tools, based on team commitment and organization vision sharing to make the most of the efforts invested.

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