I just published a new article at Industry Week about why it (sometimes) makes sense to start a continuous improvement initiative with hoshin kanri (also known as strategy deployment, or policy deployment).
Up to now, I've been dismissive (or even scornful), of companies that started with hoshin. Walking before you run has always seemed to be a better approach to me, and so I've been a strong advocate of starting with some sort of small, everyday kaizen -- or as Paul Akers would say, "fix what bugs you."
But a recent conversation with a friend has made me rethink that attitude, and now I believe that there's at least one really good argument to be made for starting down the lean path with hoshi kanri. Read more here.