2 June 2009 • 8:25 pm

Cause and Effect: The Building Blocks of Strategy

Those familiar with strategy maps know that when properly designed, they convey the cause and effect hypotheses of an organization’s strategy. No leader, no matter how gifted, is able to discern the future. But to describe strategy is to describe how leaders believe that value will be created in the future. While some organizations’ leaders may be content to simply say “our strategy is to become the number one producer of widgets in North America,” there is nothing in such a weak statement to help middle managers and front-line employees understand how the organization will become so good at producing widgets. And therein lies the critical need for conveying the hypotheses of cause and effect.

Let’s consider a simple example. In this purely hypothetical example, my wife is judging my performance in our organization (our family) by two measures: the number of calories I eat each day, and the number of days each week I exercise for at least thirty minutes. She’s even established targets for my performance; no more than 2,000 calories in a day, and at least three exercise periods a week. On the basis of those two measures, we can infer that she wants me to eat smart and to exercise. But why is my performance being measured this way? (If you have a good punchline, please leave it in the comments below.)


1 June 2009 • 8:58 am

Planning Change Communication – Part I

Organizations planning a change program using Balanced Scorecard (BSC) quite logically focus their efforts on the mechanics of the BSC itself; identifying a leadership team, developing a strategy map, selecting measures for each objective appearing on the strategy map, reporting on those measures, and engaging the leadership team in a BSC-based strategic management process. Often overlooked, but of equal importance to the success of the change program is planning and effecting the communication of strategy and performance across the organization.

Working with a client back in 2001, I constructed a framework for planning communication around strategy. Over the course of several engagements with a variety of client organizations, my colleagues and I were able to refine this framework, and prove its effectiveness. We also learned a lesson from our clients; upon reflection they all said that given the chance to do it all again, they would have started earlier and invested more time in their strategy communications programs.