5 Steps – Convert a Strategic Plan into Reality – Deliver Results

In our highly competitive and complex world, poor strategy execution is often cited as the number one challenge for many CEO/MD. Hoshin X Matrix (A3 matrix) planning tool offers a very methodical approach that is manageable and can be implemented with relative ease. For my blog on the importance of developing a strategic plan and warning signs that your business needs a strategic plan click on the link

The X Matrix methodology provides a way to link an organization’s top strategic objectives with the goals in every department in the company. By linking matrices, you can determine where to place resources. The matrix provides a clean and robust way to ensure that everyone in the company is working on action items that matter the most to the business and the customer.
The foundation for Hoshin X Matrix is inclusion, creativity and communication. Inclusion means that everyone in the organization is involved in either giving input into the company’s plan or executing action items related to critical strategies. Communication is critical because it’s how we make sure that everyone knows what is going on and how well the organization is meeting goals and objectives. Creativity is realized when new ideas are brought to the table as a result of having cross-functional teams of people discovering the best way to get things done.
The benefits of Hoshin X matrix Planning are derived from its highly collaborative foundation that ensures engagement, agreement, and accountability, which are all critical to successful strategy execution. The X matrix process also ensures that every member of the department, from the top down, has a stake in the end product, and a say in process from start to finish. The design also means that there is a constant and visible alignment between the milestones you want to achieve, and how you plan to achieve them.
The process is data driven, ensuring everything can be measured and assessed, providing the check that what you are doing is effective and progressing towards your strategic targets.

See below the matrix  5 steps you can take in order to convert the strategy into actions that deliver results.

Hoshin (X matrix /A3 matrix)

Step 1: Set the Strategic Vision & Goals (3-5-year objectives)

Start with the long-term goals of your team. This is normally in the time frame between 3 and 5 years. – This should be derived from your strategic plan

List them at the bottom quadrant of the matrix.

In order to ensure every department in the company are working together I usually focus on the following, noting the actual data should be derived from your strategic plan

Sales growth from £10m to £40m by 20xx (3-5 years) – sales/marketing team

Operating profit x to y by 20xx (3-5 years) – purchasing/operation/manufacturing team

Working capital turns x to y by 20xx (3-5 years) – Finance/purchasing/operation team

On time delivery/customer satisfaction x to y by 20xx (3-5 years) – sales/marketing, operation team

Step 2: Define Key Mid-Term Objectives (Annual policy breakthrough)

After long-term goals are all set, prepare the most important objectives that you aim to achieve in a shorter time frame (e.g. 1 year) and put them in the left quadrant.


Step 1 above: Deliver sales growth from £10m to £40m by year 20xx (3- 5 years’ time frame)

In this section – aim to set stretch goal for each objective:

Example:  Deliver sales growth from £10m to £20m (Year 1)

Therefore, in this section list each objective that align with your 3 – 5 years objectives, ensuring for each objective, you are setting a stretch year 1 goal.  This is where creativity is bought to the table, in order to deliver your stretch goals the cross functional team will be driven to think outside the box in order to achieve the set target

 Step 3: Set Short-Term Actions and Metrics (top level improvement)

Next, fill the top quadrant with the most important activities that your team has to complete in order to achieve the short-term goals. This is basically your to-do list for the upcoming months.

The right quadrant is for the metrics that will keep you on track during the time when you are executing the company’s goals.

Example: In order to deliver your sales growth from £10m to £20m – what are top level improvements you will need to deliver

a) Establish and strength new product development process

b) Expand distribution process to identify x number of distributors from country x, y, z

Each of the improvement opportunities should align with an annual objective and each annual objective should align with a 3-5-year breakthrough objective.

Step 4: Agree on Key Performance Indicators (target to improve)

Complete the specific metrics you/your team will use to measure each of the short-term initiatives, that are aligned to annual priorities, which are aligned to breakthrough objectives.

As a team you can agree on the most crucial KPI metrics that you need to improve and list them on the diagram without risking drops of morale from people whose work is not considered vital to the successful execution of the project.

Example in line with Sales Growth above

c) Launch 3 new products to deliver x revenue

d) Appoint x number of distributors, with £ revenue generated from x to y

In effect you now have KPI for every department that are fully align to your long-term goals. This process also ensures that every department is now working towards a common goal

Following this line of thought, right next to the key metrics, you need to list the key stakeholders who will be responsible for leading the completion of the activities in the top quadrant of the matrix. Therefore, you now have an owner who is accountable for delivering the KPI

Step 5: Connecting the Dots – Mark the Dependencies

Last but not least, you should complete the picture by specifying the dependencies between every listing in your matrix.

I would recommend starting with creating a legend of the different correlation markers that will connect each quadrant to the next.

You can list a primary and a secondary way of correlation. To distinguish one from another, use different symbols for visualizing them (circles, cross.).

The X matrix is a great way to prepare an actionable plan for achieving your company’s goals and easily monitor progress on a macro level.


Hoshin (X matrix /A3 matrix) is a way to measure the organization from the vision right down to the tactics that teams need to execute. It visualizes long-term strategy and breaks it down to align goals with actions to deliver your 3-5 years goals

This process includes everyone in the organization. It also provides an environment where goals, strategies and action items are fully aligned and ensures a clear shared vision is created. Finally, this tool becomes an enabling feature in the continuous improvement process for many reasons, but the primarily reason is because it makes it clear where to place the most valuable resources in order to reach the most critical business objective. Therefore, ensuring you deliver the long-term goals for the business and convert strategy into a successful execution process

About Author

Rakesh Shah RVR Management has over 20 years’ experience of growing sales in large corporate companies as well as SME companies, in UK/Europe USA and Asia. He is technically, MBA and CIM qualified with a background of delivering growth within engineering/manufacturing sectors and offer a range of business tools and support services that deliver results.

Contact Rakesh Shah : 0778 555 8344

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