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.

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.


18 June 2009 • 12:24 pm

Cascading Conundrums – Part I

Cascading is a term that has been used in the balanced scorecard (BSC) community to describe the process of propagating the BSC across an organization. Although the term implies a downward movement (through the organization’s hierarchy), propagation in any direction has come to be referred to as ‘cascading.’ Some people mistakenly apply the term to the strategy communication process; after all, they reason, communication of strategy also cascades through the organization, and is certainly related to BSC propagation. But I believe that cascading and communication are two separate processes, especially since communication is absolutely essential to the change process, while cascading is not always necessary or beneficial. And poorly-planned cascading can derail the change program.


12 June 2009 • 12:21 pm

Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions of Strategy – Part II

In my earlier post on strategy map design, we examined the basic structure of strategy maps as originally described by Bob Kaplan and Dave Norton in their early work on balanced scorecard. While their four-perspective model has been effective in designing strategy maps in for-profit organizations, there has been much variation in the perspective (vertical) dimension of strategy maps in government and non-profit organizations. At the same time, there have been a number of approaches to organizing the thematic (horizontal) dimension of strategy maps, with no one approach having emerged as consistently effective. Today, I propose a generalized structural approach for both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the strategy map.


9 June 2009 • 1:00 pm

Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions of Strategy – Part I

In their early work describing and promoting the balanced scorecard as a tool for strategic management, authors (and my former bosses) Bob Kaplan and Dave Norton presented their four perspectives (Financial, Customer, Internal Business Process, Learning and Growth) from which to measure business performance and motivate behavior in an organization. While the four perspectives were presented as a framework for selecting performance measures, there was little said about the physical presentation of these perspectives, the strategy map.


4 June 2009 • 1:37 pm

Planning Change Communication – Part II

In the previous post on the topic of planning communications for an organization’s change program, I outlined a sequence of five messages that are a key dimension of the planning framework. The five messages provide a basis for determining whatto say about change, independent of the determination of with whom the messages are to be shared. The audience dimension addresses this, and is the next part of the planning framework. 

Audience segmentation is the process of first defining the universe of stakeholders, and then dividing that universe into groups according to the intended approach to the communication of the messages. 


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.


25 May 2009 • 11:19 am

Hygienic Strategy?

Much of my work with organizations has been influenced by two classic theories of human behavior and motivation. Many of my clients have been familiar with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in which human needs are arranged like rungs on a ladder. According to Maslow, the most basic needs at the bottom of the ladder are physical, such as air, water, food, and sleep. Next are safety needs, followed by psychological, or social needs; for belonging, love, acceptance. Next are esteem needs; to feel achievement, status, responsibility, and reputation. At the top of it all are the self-actualizing needs; the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming. Maslow felt that unfulfilled needs lower on the ladder would inhibit the person from climbing to the next step. Published in 1943, Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation has been a remarkably durable set of ideas, given the advances in behavioral science in the decades since.