So often I come across “balanced scorecards” that have re-named the learning and growth perspective as “people” or “employees”. They think it is more representative. However the original name was given for a reason. There are three good reasons for keeping the name “Learning and growth”.
Renaming the learning and growth perspective as people makes it static
First, names such as “employees” or “people” or “culture” are fundamentally static. They suggest that the purpose of the perspective is to measure employees and people and culture. Whilst this is useful it is about today, not the future. The name, “learning and growth” was deliberately chosen and designed to suggest movement. What do we have to learn? What do we need to grow? It is about change, rather than being static. Many organisations rename the learning and growth perspective “employees” and then place lot of static information and annual measures about their staff in the perspective. They are not thinking of the strategy and the change. They are providing a grip on where the organisation is now. In effect they are operating in either the compliance or operational perspectives.
They are not asking, what needs to change, be learnt anew or grown as a capability, to deliver the strategy for the future. They are merely getting a grip on today. Useful, but not strategy and change
Changing the name destroys the learning in learning and growth
Secondly, changing the name not only destroys the dynamic nature of the perspective, it changes its scope. If the name is changed from learning and growth to “People or employees”, what role is there for technology, data, or physical capability? What about behaviours? What about skills and knowledge? What potential is there to discuss, learn about and develop alliances, suppliers and partners if only employees are considered? If the perspective is employees, where is the contribution of management? All of these can add to the organisations capability, and help to deliver its strategy. Basing the perspective only on people or employees narrows these aspects. Learning and growth opens up the scope.
Renaming the learning and growth perspective changes its relationship to higher perspectives
Finally, changing the name also changes its relationship to the other perspectives. The name, learning and growth, begs the question,” What do we need to learn and grow?” The title people or employee at best begs the questions what people or employees do we have or need? This leads us down the narrower path of resource allocation and utilisation. This might be useful, but it’s a narrow view of people, which at best become human capital (as a commodity) rather than the place where the organisation’s real knowledge and capability resides. Learning and growth opens up the question to a wider set of answers and puts the emphasis in the organisation’s capability to include technology, intellectual property and culture, rather than just people.
So, unless you want a static, unrelated perspective full of merely employee or people measures, keep the name as learning and growth. This enables you to ask the right questions that makes your balanced scorecard more dynamic, wider in scope and relate to the higher perspectives.