Public Housing and Process Improvement: Strategic Planning and Lean


Every socially minded housing organization across the world strives to be mission focused and goal oriented.  Every couple years, the leadership at all organizations meet and sometimes hire consultants to come in and set up 2 year, 4 year 5 year plans and develop strategies to lead them into the future.  However; does the strategic planning always set out a clear road-map for where the organization is going and what it hopes to accomplish?  If you are uncertain about your organization’s strategy, taking a lean approach to strategic planning might be a good first step.

Hoshin Planning:

We will not get too caught up in lean terminology in this article.  Hoshin Planning is simply strategy deployment.  In the lean world there are several steps to setting up strategy and then making it happen.  It is important to know that strategy deployment needs goals and numbers to make it worth the effort.  Think about this process as being extremely up and down.  The organization strategy and goals must be matched up with the tactics in middle managed and then communicated and operationalized with your front line staff.   Sound good so far?

Strategic Goals: Keep it Simple Stupid:

Not trying to be rude but you do not need to have 10-15 goals and 50 pages of non-sense.  Nobody is going to read it and it waters down your work.  Keep it to 5 goals max.  World leading companies can do this so the social housing industry can too.   The goals should realistic and doable.  Ending homelessness sounds nice but is your organization capable of doing that?  Maybe your organization can end homelessness for 50 families a year.  Think about it.  Do not set a goal without a number.  If you do, well….

Create a Means to Implement: Tactics

Now that you have goals and numbers you wish to achieve, it is time to set up tactics to get you there.  If the folks at the big table on the executive team think they are the ones who should be doing this, then they need to think again.  Your middle managers know the business.  I wont get into the iceberg of ignorance but look it up.  Each goal should have a means for making it happen.  There could be a few tactics for each goal.  The communication will help you get there.

Just Do It:

I am simplifying the Hoshin Planning methods but at the end of the day you need to implement the tactics.  That means getting with everyone involved and ensuring they are on the same page and putting the key goals into perspective when working every day.  If the key goal is to reduce unit vacancy time, then the staff might be focusing on turning units instead of preventive maintenance.

Adjust as Necessary:

There should be excellent communication taking place from the bottom to the top and vice versa.  Are goals being met, are tactics working as you thought they would?  If not, a well functioning organization will recognize and adjust.  There is no shame in being wrong but being unwilling to change can be problematic


This was a very basic explanation of strategic deployment from a lean perspective.  There is a lot that goes into this and the planning, strategy sessions, staff engagement and continued work are nothing to play around with.  I recommend reading here if you are interested in a more through explanation. 


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