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The cricket season is on and that reminds me of a catchball technique used by Toyota & other Japanese manufacturers in strategic planning & deployment.

Japanese use a word HOSHIN to describe strategy. In order to convert the organizational vision into an implementable strategy (Hoshin), they use a catchball technique. This technique ensures that everyone in an organization understands what is to be done for achieving the organizational vision and he or she is ready to provide the required support for the same.

The technique goes something like this:

1. The top management develops a vision of what the organization needs to achieve. They ‘toss’ this vision to the senior managers.

2. The senior managers ‘catch’ the vision and translate into hoshins (Strategies). Then they toss them back to the top management, and ask, in effect, “Is this what you mean? Will these activities achieve our vision?”

3. The top management provides feedback and guidance to senior managers. The hoshins can be passed back & forth several times.

4. Eventually a consensus is reached. Top management & senior managers agree that, “These are the hoshins our company will use to achieve our vision”.

5. Senior managers now toss their hoshins to middle managers, who catch them and translate them into activities. These in turn are tossed back to senior managers who provide feedback and guidance. Eventually, a consensus is reached. Senior & middle managers agree that, “These are the activities we will use to achieve the senior manager’s hoshins, which in turn will achieve our company vision.”

6. Middle managers will in turn toss their objectives to their juniors down the line. The process culminates with the performance objectives of individual team members.

An important aspect of this exercise is to achieve consensus at each level of catching the ball. Consensus building does not always mean that I must give up my ideas or beliefs. Nor does it mean that we must all agree before a hoshin is implemented. At times, we may agree to disagree. But consensus DOES mean that I will support the decision of the group.

I welcome your comments on this technique and sharing of any of your experiences when you might have used this method.

-Avinit Singh


  1. V K Uppal on Sunday 6, 2011

    Dear Mr Avinit Sigh,

    It is good. Thanks for sharing this.


  2. Jeevan Chandra on Sunday 6, 2011

    Very nice with the term of HOSHIN.

  3. Ravikumar.B.G on Sunday 6, 2011

    Dear sirs
    “HOSHIN” works out well, it involves each and every one of all levels. This can be extended to still
    lower level i.e. worker level. They are also key persons of an organisation. Suggesttion from this category helps. Thank you sir

  4. Ness on Sunday 6, 2011

    I like the idea of figuring out how to achieve the goal. It’s has similarity in conceptualizing a sytem of processes to produce an output. It has a series of links and connections in between until reaching the point of getting what the design wants to achieve.

    The keyword is team work. Though, it has different level of groups but these groups work like a networking wherein understanding of the tasks is clarified before passing on the next level, then same process applied understanding of both parties before the execution of the end-users responsible in the actual implementation.

    Another important word to remember is the COMMUNICATION. There is link in between; thus transferring of ideas from one person or group to another person or group. It needs clear
    statement of objectives if not, clarification & verification must be brought out to reach out common understanding of getting on of WHAT.

    Next is the application of execution, the actual taking up of processes to make the ideas come to WHAT had been aiming to achieve. This is not the end. it depends on the objectives & the output to determine what the next.

    Result evaluation must be observed to have a trending process of analyzing whether end result is WHAT had been expected to achieve. If positive result or even beyond expectation or vice versa meaning negative result, everything must be reviewed how it happened. This way we could boast the morale of everyone doing the right or in accordance to what actions must be done. Appreciation is the word and it follows acceptance. All of these words are positive that make sense in founding a solid team for networking for a fruitful and continuous success.

    Negative result requires review to know the mistakes and learn from it or else we might committing same mistakes in the future.

    This analysis of mine is simplify in passing a ball and it goes what we called CATCHBALL. Ball cannot be catched if the recepient is not interested nor serious in accepting it. Therefore, catchball is a very simple example in an organization statergy to reach the sucess. From top management, to senior, to junior and to all down the lines responsible in executing the actions.The process goes with communication,understanding and analysis wiith recognition as well as corrective actions.

    Thank you in sharing this thought.

  5. Varun Katyal on Sunday 6, 2011

    Thanx a Lot Sir

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