Balanced scorecards need a strategy map to orientate them towards the strategy. Strategy maps need a tangible future to describe the future that the strategy will deliver in a way that is tangible and clear. Strategy maps and the tangible future wok together.
Strategy is fundamentally how you move towards your future: What choices do we make to achieve our ambitions? What timescale do we have to implement? What else will happen that we have to take account of? The previous chapters have lay down the basis of strategy thinking into strategy maps. In this chapter future thinking and level ambition is explored more explicitly using a “Tangible future”.
Strategy involves mission and vision statements. Whilst useful and symbolic, these are of limited value for knowing what specifically will be different in the future. To assist the development of strategy maps, a more explicit, tangible future is developed. This describes what the organisation expects the future to be like, at set points in time, specifically. What will the markets be like, the competition, what size will it be? How will our channels to market have changed? What technology will have developed? How will regulation have changed? What impact will the environment have had? What will we be like as an organisation, by this time? Also there are uncertainties and risks. What assumptions have we made? What might change? What are we uncertain about? This detailed thinking is captured in a tangible vision that sits alongside the strategy map.
The tangible future serves three purposes. First, it describes the level of ambition in a way that is more tangible and measurable that mission and vision statements. This provides a vital base from which to detail the balanced scorecard. Secondly it generates conversation and discussion about what individual members of the team believe. This helps to identify and capture any assumptions, risks and uncertainties. It also it helps management teams understand how each other are thinking, individually and collectively, about the future. Finally it makes specific the speed of change and level of ambition required. This is then incorporated into the strategy map and subsequent balanced scorecard.
Phil Jones Fourth generation balanced scorecard specialist