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Recently a client, a very large Government body, was having a few problems with their planning process.  How to engage with their managers, getting the tools of strategy and performance to make coherent sense as a whole, making the story of their strategy clear, making it easy to manage and deliver.

They had a really good lean deployment methodology which they had learnt  from Unipart: it included the Lean Policy deployment Matrix (Sometimes known as the Strategy deployment Matrix). This was being used to cascade the overall corporate objectives, to cascade the main change programmes, and align projects, deliverables and results locally in business units.

At the same time they were using a simplified scorecard, (just a scorecard) from the balanced scorecard approach for Business As Usual measures and targets.  This was divided into domains and contained “KPIs” and targets.

The problem was there appeared no clear link between the cascade of strategy using the Policy Deployment Matrix and the  BAU scorecard.   They were therefore using, what they called, at strategy map, to create a set of local objectives that showed how a local business unit would contribute to the overall strategic objectives.  However this was not a Norton & Kaplan Strategy Map, but simply a link of strategic to local objectives.

All this was not fitting together well: How did the policy deployment matrix’s measures and deliverables link to the Business as usual  (BAU) scorecard measures/KPIs?  How did change affect BAU?   Were these the right things to be measuring?  Would they distort behaviours?

They were also in  the middle of their planning round.  They needed to find a way through this set of tools that made sense, without starting again.  (A catch was  that neither the BAU scorecard, nor the Policy Deployment matrix could be changed.  They were corporate standard.)

Now, the scorecard clearly derived from Norton & Kaplan Balanced Scorecard thinking (except, they had missed some steps, lost cause and effect, discarded local objectives and ignored the projects).

The Unipart Policy Deployment Matrix also derived from Norton & Kaplan thinking:  The Unipart guys acknowledged this in their paper “Hoshin Kanri, or get your ducks in a row (See my article specifically about Lean Policy Deployment matrices).

So we took a step back, created some proper Strategy maps, from the modern balanced scorecard methodology, that described the local business units, and then laid their existing measures, targets, deliverables, objectives and KPIs on top on these new strategy maps.  (You can read more about developing strategy maps in my book).

Guess what?  Everything suddenly became clear.

  • They had a picture of each business unit and how it operated.
  • They had a clear description of how that business unit supported its customers, which in turn contributed to the wider strategic objectives.
  • They could see where Business as usual measures were located in the process and clearly see what they were measuring.
  • They had a clear view of where the change projects affected the local units and how they would drive change.
  • They also had a view of the underlying capabilities that each business unit needed to learn, grow and develop to become more effective and position itself long term.

Most importantly, from a facilitator’s perspective  they had tools that facilitated conversation and discussion with the executives and managers in the business units

  • They had a tools that they could check the  overall picture.
  • They had the understanding of how these pieces fitted together
  • They had tools of conversation about strategy and performance as well as business as usual

They did not need to change their existing tools (The policy deployment matrix or scorecard ) but they were able to see clearly how they could adapt it, without breaking the corporate rules, to make them both clearer and easier to use.

Our approach is to help clients understand their tools so they can use them better.  Such tools should support strategy and change and should make managing business as usual, easy and clear.  When they get in the  way and act to obscure the  picture they are doing the organisation a dis-service, rather than service.  Potentially distorting behaviours, causing people to focus on the wrong thing, and managers to manage the wrong things. All of which leads to missed opportunities, poor operational performance and a failure to implement necessary change and transformation in the strategy.

To avoid these sorts of problems and improve your planning and performance management approach, give us a call.  We are happy to have an initial conversation about your needs.