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Between your Balanced Scorecard Meetings

Posted May 26, 2010 9:12 AM by Ted Jackson

Many organizations have created a Balanced Scorecard, but they don't know how to use it. Some just use their scorecard as an annual strategy planning tool. Others will create a report each year based on the results. Some organizations even have strategy review meetings on a monthly or quarterly basis. These organizations see results and have success in executing their strategy. One of the keys to keeping the strategy alive and at the center of the management process is to interact with the strategy throughout the year, and not just at the strategy review meetings.

You may have read my posts about Preparing for a Strategy Review Meeting or Running your Strategy Review Meeting. I just wanted to explain that there is more to the Balanced Scorecard than just having strategy review meetings. You have to do work between those meetings. Coming out of each review meeting are action items. These are "to-dos" that come up during the meeting. You could have any of the following examples of action items:

  • Follow up with Mary about the initiative
  • Call that customer and get feedback on our new process
  • Call our partner and see if their forecast match ours
  • Work with our foreign office to learn about these local conditions

As you can see, action items do not require budgets or dedicated resources. They do require attention, and someone has to do something. Typically, an action item is related to some questions about an objective, measure, or initiative. When you complete the action item, you should report back to the owner of the related objective, measure, or initiative.

The other challenge that organizations run into is that they see their quarterly meetings or annual meetings as the time that they should focus on strategy. Of course they should focus on strategy during those meetings, but those meetings are for looking at information and making strategic decisions. You cannot improve an initiative or drive a measure during the 2 hour meeting time. So between the meetings, you should still be looking at the measures and focusing your team's activities on driving the measure towards the target. You should be talking about ways to coordinate across the organization, and you should be executing on the initiatives.

Imagine if you spent two months focusing on diversifying sales or diversifying funding sources. By the time you have the next strategy review meeting, you will be able to share progress, successes, failures, bottlenecks, and/or roadblocks. By really focusing on the objectives outside of the meetings, you will quickly learn the drivers of the objectives and the challenges in executing them. You can then use the meetings to make the decisions or change the behavior that will allow you to be more successful with the objectives. Ultimately, this work, between the meetings, will allow you to accomplish the objectives or realize that you may need to adjust your strategy.

This is how organizations maintain focus, become agile, and ultimately execute their strategy. It allows organizations to focus their time and energy on the things that are important...those things that you laid out in your strategy and show in your strategy map. Strategy is not executed at the quarterly and annual meetings. It is adjusted at those meetings; strategy is executed throughout the year in the day-to-day decisions and activities of the staff.