This article presents findings from an ESRC sponsored research project about the use of hoshin kanri (policy management) in the UK. The research used tracer studies to follow in real time the development and management of annual policies in three Japanese subsidiaries based in the UK. In addition, case histories were also compiled for companies belonging to the project’s practitioner network. The project explored hoshin kanri as a PDCA‐led strategic management process. There are important issues associated with each part of this PDCA cycle with which practitioners wrestle, but in general there remain important company‐wide benefits.