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This is an example or really poor balanced scorecard training.  I was talking with a client recently about fourth generation balanced scorecards they told me they had strategy maps and had been on a CIMA course that explained third generation balanced scorecards.  I was pleased – clearly they were fairly forward looking.  So I replied, “Oh good, you have a cause and effect model then?”.  To my shock, they replied “What is that?”

Now if you read past page nine of Norton and Kaplan’s first book it is clear that the real balanced scorecard framework model is not the cruciform model you see all over the internet, but its about cause and effect between objectives in the four perspectives, See page 30 of “The balanced scorecard” published in 1996.

I must admit I was puzzled and wanted to check what CIMA were putting out as their Balanced Scorecard training just in case the client had got it wrong (This was 2011).  However, to my horror I found that the CIMA’s “A practitioner’s guide to the balanced scorecard” makes no references to strategy mapping and repeats the old cruciform model from page nine of the first balanced scorecard book a number of times.

Which is a created alternative never positioned by Norton and Kaplan in any of their books and bears no relationship to any balanced scorecard related model that is in use.  I can only conclude that someone is peddling their own model here (or some academic who is playing “not invented here”.  Why do this when the original model works so well?

Fortunately their 2005 Technical paper is a better talking about strategy maps and some of the deployment issues, but it still cites examples using the old framework.  Oh Hum.

However I do wonder how that client came away with such a poor view of the balanced scorecard. So here are four challenges to CIMA and the author of their paper and courses

  1. How about explaining what a strategy map is.  it was only introduced in 1996 and their third book is entirely devoted to it
  2. How about explaining the cause and effect model from amongst perspectives, that drives performance and describes strategy happening to bring about change
  3. How about explaining that you develop objectives before measures.  I admit they only talk about that from 1997 but is is fairly fundamental
  4. How about getting someone who worked with Norton & Kaplan, understand the thinking, does not miss the principles and has taken the approach further.

If anyone from CIMA is reading this please give me a call.  If you are thinking of going on this course, beware.  If they are using the original paper then the  thinking and teaching is quite outdated.  If you want something more up to date please contact me and I’ll happily help out with one of our fourth generation balanced scorecard training sessions.