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Balancing Acts & Success within your Family

Posted August 27, 2010 2:24 AM by Dylan Miyake

Many non-profit organizations, associations, and government agencies use the Balanced Scorecard as a way to overcome the strains and varying pulls of their combined energies. But have you ever considered that the Balanced Scorecard can help you outside of work as well?People are busier than ever before – we're working longer hours, we're becoming ever more stretched by Outlook, Facebook, and even that business trip you took. And all of us, in one way or another, are trying to do more with less. One challenge of modern life is that it can be hard to take a step back and look at the "big picture" of our lives. Using a Balanced Scorecard approach can help, just by considering the simple questions:

  • Are we really making time for the people that mean the most to us?
  • Are we really shaping our lives in a way that will bring peace and fulfillment?
  • Are we saving for the future, both emergencies and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities?
  • Can I build a stronger, more confident, yet more caring family too?

Let's look at an example Balanced Scorecard to see how this technique might apply to a typical family... To make a Balanced Scorecard with your family, consider using the following Balanced Scorecard Perspectives – this is similar to a typical organization's Balanced Scorecard Perspectives, but replacing the generic "Customer Perspective" with Family Happiness" instead: Finances & Risk Management: What are the various financial goals that you are trying to achieve for your family? For example:

  • Emergency funds: Most financial planners recommend having at least three months of salary in the bank. Do you have it?
  • Long-term savings: This includes lifelong goals like retirement, college funds for children.
  • Discretionary spending: How much do you get to spend each month? Are you happy with that number, or do you feel stretched, stressed, and too close to the line?
  • Time off: Do you want more time away from work? Can you adjust your finances to "buy" more time?
  • Insurance: Are you and your family protected against the risk of catastrophic loss? Whether it's your home, your life, your car, or your health, make sure you're covered.

Family Happiness: Your family, be it your parents, your significant other, and even your pets should be a safe haven from the dangers of life. So many times though, family is only seen as another source of stress. Imagining you and your family all as customers of this "organization", can any initiatives build better bonds?

  • Family dinners: how often do you and your family sit down together at the dinner table? Are the dinners boring and rigid, or is everyone excited to bring their stories of the day?
  • Service to others: Does your family get involved in the community? Do you make time to go visit relatives? When was the last time your family volunteered at a soup kitchen or made a donation to a charity?
  • Spiritual life: Do you attend religious services with your family? If you do not belong to an organized religious group, how can your family better share affection and emotional comfort, and express gratitude for your lives together?

Learning and Growth: How can you do more to invest in the "human capital" of your family? What do you want to learn from, and teach to, your loved ones?

  • Music: What musical instrument would you like to learn to play? What about your children? Music has been proven to relax the mind after a long day at work.
  • Reading: What magazines do you love to read? Who are your favorite authors? How can you encourage your children to spend more time reading for fun?
  • Travel: Where in the world would you most like to go during your lifetime? What are your favorite annual travel destinations?
  • Friends and connections: Invest in your family's "social capital" – your network of all the friends, acquaintances and contacts who might be able to help you (or your family) in the future – and who you would gladly help as well. When was the last time you invited some good friends over for dinner?

Internal Processes: How well does your family "work?" What are the internal systems and processes that affect how smoothly and harmoniously your lives go at home?

  • Managing the Household: Do you have a regular system of assigning chores? Who does which tasks? How do you decide? Does everyone know their responsibilities?
  • Trying new things: How "innovative" is your family? Are you open to new ideas, or stuck in your ways?
  • Relationship management: How strong are your family's connections with other family and friends? Do you often socialize with others, or do you keep to yourselves?

Using a Balanced Scorecard approach to your family and personal life can present some important questions. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers, but you can make some powerful changes by understanding expectations and how to maximize the strength, safety, and support of a family while minimizing the financial and emotional stress of maintaining lifelong companionship. Here's to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling future!