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How do you make sure that this is the Chief Executive’s balanced scorecard?  How do you make sure it is useful for them.  How do you get energy and importance behind the balanced scorecard design project.

Now you can certainly do scorecard projects without the strategy: Without a strategic intent. What happens is that the “Do a scorecard” message comes down from the top, but there may be little guidance as to what is wanted.

Involvement may be vocal rather than real. This is not an unusual pattern. In his excellent book, “The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning”, Henry Mintzberg describes how planning fails when it is delegated to planning departments. The same is true of performance management.

On the other hand when you can sit across the table from the Chief executive and ask, “What is the real problem here?”. Then different things happen. In a recent engagement I was exploring how to design the strategy map with the Chief Executive. She was concerned that her team work closer together and think and act in a “joined up” manner. I offered her two choices.

  • Silo based objectives. The objectives broadly corresponded with the existing organisational structure
  • Objectives that they had to jointly own.

She said, “Well I suppose that we could start with the silo based ones and move to the joined up approach.” Now there is only one response at this point. It required looking her in the eyes and saying, “Well we both know that will never happen, will it?”

“You are right”, she replied and from there we had backing from the top to change the thinking, practices and patterns of behaviour of that management team. The strategy was joined up services and the strategy map and performance management system reflected that.

Make it the Chief Executive’s balanced scorecard

You must get the Chief Executive on-board.  You can do it without him or her, but it will be an operational scorecard. So, look critically at your performance management project and your performance management reports. Ask yourself, and answer honestly:

  • What does your Chief Executive really want? Are you solving a real problem for them? Are you making a difference to the strategy?
  • Are you enabling it to happen or just measuring whether it does or doesn’t?
  • Will you make a difference to their performance and the way the team and organisation works?
  • Or are you just measuring performance to see what is happening?

In contrast, I met someone recently who was in a performance manager’s role. His responsibility was developing the measures and reporting pack. However he was really frustrated. He knew that he wanted to make a big difference to the organisation: To drive into the information and provide stuff that would inform managers and help change and improve the organisation. Yet he was getting no support. Despite trying he was not getting managers’ time and attention. He could look forward and think to himself, “This project will be a failure. At best it will be useful reporting. At worst it will create no change.” He didn’t want that on his CV. He was stuck though. If he carried on with the level of support he was getting he would have a non-descript project on his CV. One where, despite his passion and effort, he wasn’t going to get a result and be able to say, “I made a difference”. If he left now, after 3-4 months of frustration, he would have a half finished project on his CV. He would have to explain why he left, and what he had not achieved.

I hope that is not you, is it?

If it is, then perhaps you are already thinking how external help would help you as well as the organisation. It’s no coincidence that several of our Associates and many of the people in our network are clients and ex-clients. Moreover, they are people who we worked with as a part of the joint project team, developing their skills and getting them the exposure they sometimes lacked. Afterwards they were better positioned to work with their Directors and management team. Their credibility had been enhanced. Why do we do that? Because it is a win/win. We get happier clients, you and your team develop and progress more, the work is more likely to persist and will make a lasting difference. That means happier clients all around and that means more referrals for us. Obvious really. You know that you know how to do much of it. Sometimes it just takes an external voice to get through the door. In the meantime look critically at your own performance management approach, where it is used, how it is used and what it is used for. Is it giving them useful information? If you aren’t getting the right sort of vibes, then you know what kind of experience you need to help you, don’t you?

More soon Phil Jones