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  • Rod Morgan, Head of Faculty, RPM-Academy

Strategic Life Planning: Applying Hoshin Planning to Personal Goals

In the dynamic landscape of personal and professional growth, strategic planning plays a pivotal role in achieving long-term success. One such effective method is Hoshin Planning, a comprehensive approach that originated in Japan and has gained popularity worldwide for its strategic and systematic nature.

This is, of course, that time of year when so many of us around the world are identifying and setting goals for the new year. This article explores what Hoshin Planning is, its application in organizational settings, and how it can be scaled down to create a personal Hoshin plan for individual success.

Understanding Hoshin Planning

Hoshin Planning, also known as Hoshin Kanri or Policy Deployment, is a strategic management methodology that originated in post-war Japan. The term "Hoshin" translates to "shining metal" or "compass needle," symbolizing a clear direction. SWOT analysis, often credited to Albert Humphrey in the 1960s, is typically used in the early stages of strategic planning. Hoshin Planning aligns organizational objectives with tactical activities to ensure everyone is working towards common goals.

Applying Hoshin Planning to Organizations

In an organizational context, Hoshin Planning involves creating a visual framework called the X-Matrix. This matrix aligns three to five-year long-term goals to annual objectives and actionable initiatives with specific targeted measurable (quantifiable) outcomes. The method also employs tools like "bowling charts" to visually represent progress and facilitate continuous improvement.

This is an example of an X-Matrix used in Hoshin Planning

The Power and Purpose of the X-Matrix

The X-Matrix operates as a powerful cascading framework, akin to a waterfall of strategic alignment. At its core, the X-Matrix embodies a hierarchical structure that ensures every layer, department, or team within an organization contributes harmoniously to the overarching strategic goals.

Much like a cascade, the process starts at the top with the executive leadership defining the company's "True North", the ultimate vision and goals. These high-level objectives then flow down through the organization, with each subsequent layer developing its own set of annual objectives, strategies, and key performance indicators (KPIs) or key results indicators (KRIs). The beauty of this cascading approach lies in its precision; the numbers and actions at each level meticulously add up to meet and support the objectives of the layer above.

This illustrates the waterfall concept when using the X-Matrix for Hoshin Planning
Hoshin planning X-Matrix waterfall

Image source: RPM-Academy course L013 Hoshin Planning

In this way, the X-Matrix facilitates a seamless integration of efforts, ensuring that the entire organization moves in unison towards a common destination, guided by a shared vision and purpose.

Scaling Down to Personal Hoshin Planning

The adaptability of Hoshin Planning extends beyond corporate boardrooms. Individuals can harness its power to create a personal Hoshin plan, translating life aspirations into actionable steps. Here's a breakdown of how Hoshin Planning can be applied to personal development:

  1. Define Your Vision (True North): Identify your long-term goals in various life aspects, such as financial, retirement, health, relationships, and personal growth. Clearly articulate your vision for each area, ensuring they align with your core values and aspirations.

  2. Set Annual Objectives: Break down your long-term goals into smaller, manageable annual objectives. For instance, if financial independence is a goal, set specific savings targets for the year.

  3. Develop Strategies: Determine the strategies and actions required to achieve your annual objectives. This could involve acquiring new skills, building habits, or seeking mentorship.

  4. Measure What Matters: Establish measurable KPIs or KRIs to track your progress. For financial goals, these could include savings rate or investment returns.

  5. Create a Personal X-Matrix: Construct a simplified X-Matrix to visualize the alignment of your goals, objectives, strategies, and KPIs and KRIs. This serves as a roadmap for your personal development journey.

  6. Achieve Your Goals: Regularly review and reflect on your progress. Adjust your strategies and goals as needed, embracing a mindset of continuous personal improvement.


Hoshin Planning transcends its corporate origins, offering a structured approach to personal development. By adopting this methodology, individuals can navigate life's complexities with purpose and direction. The X-Matrix becomes a personal compass, guiding one toward a future where financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and overall well-being are not just aspirations but achievable realities. Embrace the power of Hoshin Planning to illuminate your path to personal success.


RPM-Academy offers an online course on Hoshin Planning for organizations and how to leverage and adapt this powerful methodology for personal goal setting and planning. To access this course (code L013) and templates including the X-Matrix and Bowling Charts, sign up for a free account and explore our catalogue of over 800 online courses and more than 90 certificate programs for personal and professional development.


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