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Working with a management team the other day, they showed me their recently created “Balanced Scorecard”.

As is fairly common it was simply an excel spreadsheet showing a collection of measures, without any actions, projects, objectives or ownership. They had of course categorised them into perspectives, but in true “not invented here” fashion they had decided to call them “domains”. Most were activity or process measures, a few were customer, and a few financial.  Fairly typical thinking for a first generation balanced scorecard consisting simply of a set of measures, in this case around 50-60 with various colours showing trends and targets.

There were no objectives, no drivers of performance and no relationship to projects, or organisational change.  Typical first generation balanced scorecard thinking.

You will know that first generation balanced scorecard thinking is very much of the mindset “How do we get a wider perspective of the measures in the organisation?” This was a classic of that thinking and mind set.

Digging a little deeper we got to an interesting truth. This was the scorecard presented to the executive team and board. When I asked, who produced it, the response came back was that it was “Produced by middle managers and represented what they though the executive and board needed to know”.

I think this is quite a revealing comment. Using the principle, “A strategy map and balanced scorecard for a management team: a set of balanced scorecards for an organisation” this was clearly a middle management scorecard presented to the executive. It also explains why the board were complaining that they felt they had few levers of control that were working. The control of these levers was the domain of the middle managers: they were the ones who primarily gathered, managed and influenced these measures.

Again this breaks the principle, “Create a scorecard for a team to influence their decision making.”

I invite you to have a look at the balanced scorecards in your organisation. Who designed them, for whom to managed? It creates some revealing answers…