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stimulaYou might be wondering whether you should use a Balanced Scorecard for strategic planning process.  Here is my response to that very question.  Don’t use “a balanced scorecard”: use “The Balanced Scorecard Approach” and use it to create the conversations and you need to bring out the deeper issues, ideas and concerns.  The balanced scorecard approach is not simply a technical tool, but a social tool.  Use it as a social tool.

The Balanced Scorecard approach is an effective, systematic approach to capturing strategy  (Strategy maps), Planning (the alignment between strategy maps and scorecards) and for communicating and managing strategy.  I used to work for Norton and Kaplan and have used the Balanced Scorecard approach as a tool of strategy,and implementation, FOLLOWING THEIR PRINCIPLES, for around 15 years.

The Fourth generation balanced scorecard approach is also effective at creating agile, responsive learning organisations.

Three warnings:

1) Be aware that as you try to capture the strategy you will find pieces that are incomplete or where manager disagree (or don’t have complete agreement).  Part of your role as a facilitator is to manage that.

2) IT IS NOT ABOUT MEASURES.  It is about BEHAVIOURS.  The measures that you use as a minor part or the approach are there to provide evidence and tell a part of the story, but it is much more about communication, encouraging the right behaviours and changing the way people work and act.

3) Focus on how people meet, the conversations they have and the actions they take.  IT IS ABOUT LEARNING.  How do we implement this, execute it and learn from what we have done to do it better.

Ignore all the people who tell you the approach does not work.  In my time working with many organisations, there is not one organisation that I have failed to map a strategy, or where the executive team have not said, “Yes that represents out strategy”.  But do concentrate on the core principles of good balanced scorecard design like the cause and effect relationship, what drives strategy and change and the way people meet and manage (rather than using measures and targets as a crude mechanism of change).

You still have to do detailed planning and budgeting with it as you cascade the approach, but using the approach properly you can create a much simpler and more flexible plan that allows for a much more agile and responsive organisation (and much less paperwork).

You can read more particularly the Balanced scorecard and sesame street video and the strategic learning model.  I am now using fourth generation balanced scorecard which builds upon the Norton & Kaplan approach.  My book, “Strategy Mapping for Learning Organisations“, contains a lot of guidance.