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12 November 2009 • 7:00 am

The Strategy-Focused Organization Concept is Still Robust

read this book

read this book

Most popular ideas in the domain of organizational management have a limited shelf-life. Those that gain widespread attention usually do so on the strength of a published work. My bookshelves are filled with titles that in their time, were purported to be the next ‘big idea’ in management, but have since faded into relative obscurity. This pattern is as much a function of the audience for the ideas as the ideas themselves; executives and managers crave the easy answers and magical insights that are promised by these works. So when an idea remains relevant and applicable for more than a few years, it stands out. 

Of course, balanced scorecard has been an exceptionally durable concept. The idea of a scorecard (a collection of measures) as a tool for management has been around for decades, and is thought to have originated at General Electric during the 1950s. Kaplan and Norton elaborated the idea of a scorecard as a tool for strategic management beginning with their first Harvard Business Review articles on the topic in 1992 and 1993, and their book The Balanced Scorecard in 1996. The BSC articles and original book were extremely popular, and remain so today.But I never recommend Kaplan and Norton’s first BSC book to anyone embarking on a journey of strategic management.
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28 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part V

In Parts I through IV of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Parts I, II, III, and IV  now if you haven’t done so already.

The afterglow of the strategy map workshop didn’t last very long. Working closely with Linda, the next step was to recruit people in the WorldCo organization to identify prospective measures for the strategy map objectives. This process was designed to require minimal participation from leadership team members – the work was to be delegated deeper within the WorldcCo organization.

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27 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part IV

In Parts I through III of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Parts I, II, and III  now if you haven’t done so already.

It would have been so easy for the workshop to have been awful. Forty-five executives and managers instead of the promised nine, many of whom had no advance understanding of what was going on. A not very cohesive leadership team, with at least some evidence of rivalry and political intrigue among them. Some open skepticism about the process (although this was typical), and an organization whose culture seemed to be all about impatience. And in me, a somewhat rattled facilitator.

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26 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part III

In Parts I and II of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Parts I and II now if you haven’t done so already.

Each of the many dozens of strategy map workshops I have facilitated in my career has been different, but they have all been exhilarating. For up to eight hours, I (and typically a colleague) guide a group of executives to construct and agree to a concise yet richly detailed expression of the strategy for the organization (read more about the art and science of strategy map design). With only a few exceptions, executives emerged from their efforts highly satisfied with the result of their efforts, and energized about strategy execution.

Over the years, my colleagues and I have developed an understanding of the ingredients for a successful strategy map session. All members of the leadership team in attendance, and fully engaged (e-mail and telephone calls only permitted on breaks, no laptops or PDAs allowed). No more than about fifteen people in the room. A carefully developed draft strategy map that has been previewed with the leader of the organization. The pacing of the discussions that enhance and revise the draft map must be carefully managed, and it is important to “read the room” to sense when it is time to seek closure on a discussion.

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25 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part II

In Part I of this case, I recounted the history of an engagement I had several years ago with a particularly challenging client, WorldCo, a division of a large U.S. corporation. We met Reggie, the head of the WorldCo division, Karen, his head of strategy, and Linda, Karen’s deputy (all names and some details have been changed). Please read Part I now if you haven’t done so already.

As I requested, Linda accompanied me to each of the interviews, and was able to provide valuable context and insight into what was revealed. Some members of Reggie’s leadership team were enthusiastic, and well informed about the intent of the program, but at least a couple of them had no idea what was going on, and seemed especially impatient with our use of an hour of their time for the interview. All knew of the upcoming full-day kick-off and strategy map workshop, but some were clearly skeptical. Linda wasn’t surprised. She told me that Reggie rarely met with his team as a whole, and that each of those managers was operating fairly autonomously. There were also some mild rivalries among those team members. Reggie was seen by Linda and others as having a “hands-off” leadership style.  

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24 August 2009 • 7:00 am

The Case of the Undermined Change Program – Part I

Current events in the U.S. have reminded me of a rather challenging client I had several years ago. Although all of the names and some of the details here have been changed to protect the identity of the client organization and individuals involved, it is very much a real experience, and sadly, not all that unusual in the annals of balanced scorecard programs.

Our firm was approached by Karen, the energetic and charismatic head of strategy for WorldCo, a major division of a large U.S. corporation whose name would be instantly recognizable to anyone reading this case. Her mission was to implement balanced scorecard in WorldCo as the basis for a strategic management system, and as a tool to drive an overarching strategic change program. She had proposed the idea and earned the blessing of the division head Reggie, an executive who appeared every so often in favorable interviews about leadership in business periodicals.

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17 July 2009 • 7:00 am

Scorecard Blues (plus Three Other Colors)

stoplight_t

To my chagrin, the term ‘scorecard’ is widely used in both the disciplines of performance management and strategy execution, and without further qualification, has an imprecise variety of meanings. To some, it may mean a large collection of indicators of operational performance. To others, it is an ambiguous shorthand for ‘balanced scorecard,’ which is a well-developed set of related ideas and practices around strategy management and execution. Ambiguity comes from the fact that to some, the term ‘balanced scorecard’ means simply a collection of measures that has been balanced according to some real or imagine scheme. On far too many occasions, I’ve been approached by a conference attendee with a request to review and comment on his so-called ‘balanced scorecard,’ only to find that the proud offering is a only collection of operational measures with no connection to strategy. This is the basis of my Scorecard Blues. So let me be blunt: if a set of measures has been selected without the prior development of a strategy map, it cannot be properly called a balanced scorecard.

Even without the qualifier of ‘balanced,’ a ‘scorecard’ is seen as a group of measures, and / or the visual representation of those measures, and / or the tool for managing measurement data. Many software tools called ‘scorecards’ have been developed to facilitate the collection, analysis, and presentation of scorecards, both for operational and strategic use. Because the term ‘scorecard’ has so many diverse meanings and uses, it simply cannot be used alone without further explanation. But there is one trait that attaches to nearly every individual’s own definition of the term ‘scorecard.’

The lowest common denominator of nearly all ‘scorecards’ is the ubiquitous red – yellow (amber in Europe) – green summary indicator scheme (hence RYG). more

9 July 2009 • 7:00 am

Performance Advocates Lead Strategy Execution

Much has been written about the process of creating a balanced scorecard (BSC), and much more has been written about the overall process of strategy management that the BSC facilitates. Far less had been written about best practices for strategy review meetings in 2005 when my colleague Jay Weiser and I wrote an article on the topic that has been especially helpful in organizations getting started with BSC strategic management. In this and future posts, I’ll touch on some of our key points.

Strategy review meetings are the necessary venue in which leaders periodically evaluate the progress of the change program. more

22 June 2009 • 7:11 am

Cascading Conundrums – Part III

In Parts I and II of this topic, I asserted that cascading a balanced scorecard (BSC) across an organization is a process that requires careful planning, and thoughtful answers to the ‘When’, ‘Why’, and ‘Where’ questions. I cautioned that hastily planned cascading can derail the entire change program. Here, we conclude with the final three questions a leadership team should consider before cascading strategy across the organization.
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19 June 2009 • 12:29 pm

Cascading Conundrums – Part II

In Part I of this topic, I asserted that cascading a balanced scorecard (BSC) across an organization is a process that requires careful planning, and thoughtful answers to the ‘When’ and ‘Why’ questions. I cautioned that hastily planned cascading can derail the entire change program. Here, we continue with the next question every leadership team should consider before cascading strategy across the organization.

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