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Balanced Scorecard ownership: How to create buy-in to your balanced scorecard

Without ownership and buy-in you are wasting your time on a balanced scorecard project.  This article provides practical advice on balanced scorecard ownership: understanding it, creating it and using it. Ownership of your Balanced scorecard is essential for your project.  So this article covers:

  1. Dealing with past experiences of badly implemented scorecards
  2. Understanding what problem you are trying to solve, for whom?
  3. Whose problem is it? Creating ownership and buy-in
  4. Alignment with organisational purpose and goals
  5. Links to a few case studies.
  6. And a final thought on treating balanced scorecard implementations as proper change projects

1. Dealing with past experiences of badly implemented scorecards

One problem you might face is previous bad experiences of “Balanced scorecards”.  Very often I have come across teams, who have had bad experiences of “A balanced scorecard” only to discover it was a simplistic measures and targets tool, a scorecard, poorly implemented, that destroyed the culture, created a tyranny of targets and set off a load of dysfunctional behaviour.

In such circumstances I strongly recommend you do a lot of education.  Draw the sting.  Find out what actually went on and why, and the problems it caused. Then even consider calling the project something completely different.  Here are some other solutions to measurement and target cultures.

2. What problem are you trying to solve, for whom?

Central to balanced scorecard ownership and buy-in is working out what management problem you are actually solving (clue it is not implementing a balanced scorecard or set of measures).   Associated with this is finding not simply a sponsor, but a genuine problem owner.  Someone who wants the problem solved and cares enough to support it.  Fail to find this, and I strongly suggest you walk away from the project.  Why? Because it will be a pain, you will get no support and no appreciation for what you are trying to do.   You are wasting the client’s money and your time.  To understand this better have a read of:

3. Whose problem is it?  Creating buy-in

A core part of the buy-in process is deciding whose balanced scorecard it is.  Who owns the balanced scorecard? Who is it for?  Here are five articles on creating ownership and buy-in:

4. Alignment with objectives and purpose

Balanced scorecard ownership is wider than the scorecard.  It is about the ownership and buy-in to the organisation’s objectives. Make sure you create a clear alignment with the organisation’s purpose and objectives.  You should be able to read the strategy from the scorecard (otherwise what strategy does it represent?).

One way to do this is to create a clear “Line of sight” and “The golden thread”.  These are often talked about but, just as often, confused.  These are used interchangeably, however, in terms of creating ownership and  buy-in, Line of sight and the golden thread are quite different.

It is also important to understand the difference between purpose and meaningful work.  Purpose is a future tense idea.  We will achieve this.  Meaningful is a present tense idea: today I made a difference.

5. A few balanced scorecard ownership case studies

Here are a few case studies specifically about creating ownership and buy-in for your balanced scorecard.  One from Paul Moody, ex CEO of Britvic talking about creating ownership in their Balanced scorecard.  Another by Steve Lunn, ex of Anglian Water, explaining how he used the balanced scorecard approach to create engagement and bring about change in Anglian Water.

Finally, here are some thoughts on how you frame Performance management conversations to create buy-in.

6. Finally, on ownership and socialising the strategy, recognise this is about culture change

The real issue is that these projects are change projects: They need to be treated as such.

Being a change project means you have a clear model of change that you follow.  You recognise that you are having to go beyond communicating strategy to socialising strategy.  You are looking to change thinking and behaviours and even the norms of the organisation. You are intervening in the social fabric and system of the organisation.  All of these things make up the underlying culture and how you manage your organisation’s culture change.   These links will help you with that.