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The Balanced Scorecard- Basic Terminology

Posted July 22, 2011 11:30 AM by Henry

Over the past weekend, I was able to spend some time with one of my younger brothers. As younger siblings will do, he began asking me random questions. Eventually, the conversation turned to my work as an associate consultant with Ascendant. He became intrigued by the Balanced Scorecard and continued to ask general questions about the framework. As the conversation moved into more detail, a majority of the questions centered on the specific words and phrases that I was using. In response to these questions, I have decided to define some of the basic vocabulary that I use on a daily basis.

Strategy Map : Communicates on one piece of paper the critical strategic objectives of an organization. It tells the story of your organization.

Buy-in : Yes, this term can refer to the minimum amount of chips required to enter a poker game, but in terms of strategic management, it is when members of an organization (management, staff, etc.) agree with, and embrace, the strategic changes within the organization.

Mission : An organization's unique reason for existence that reflects the values and priorities of the strategy.

Purpose Statement : Outlines the overarching goal that the strategy was designed to achieve, the means by which it will get there, and the scope of the operations.

Objectives : A key element of the strategy that outlines the behavior you want to see in your organization. They are critical success points in achieving the strategy for which measurable results can be obtained. Typically, they are written as an action statement in the verb + adjective + noun format.

Measures : Define the key areas of focus and help answer the question "how are we doing on achieving our strategy?" Each strategy has driver and outcome measures.

Driver Measure : These are input-oriented measures that should have an impact on the outcome measures.

Outcome Measure : These are results-oriented measures that can be difficult to have a direct impact on.

Targets : Goals that define the level of performance or rate of improvement needed.

Initiatives : Key projects or action programs that are required to achieve the strategic objectives. They state what must get done and when.

Perspectives : An organizing framework highlighting common management disciplines. There are four common perspectives, and each asks a different question:

  • Customer : "To achieve our mission, how must we look to our customers?"
  • Financial : "If we succeed, how will we look to our donors or taxpayers?"
  • Internal : "To satisfy our customers and financial donors, which business processes must we excel at?"
  • Learning and Growth : "To achieve our mission, how must our organization learn and improve?"

Themes : Illustrate the cause and effect relationships between the strategic objectives.

KPIs : (Key performance indicators) Measurements that are used to quantify objectives and reflect the critical success factors of an organization.

S.M.A.R.T. : This framework can be used to help in developing effective measures.

  • Specific : Clearly and precisely state what will be measured
  • Measurable : Every measure should be numeric and able to be graphed
  • Actionable : The results are easy to interpret and you should understand the actions that will affect the measure
  • Repeatable : You need to be able to consistently gather the information over time
  • Timely : It needs to be measure at a reasonable frequency

The above list is not intended to be comprehensive, but it would have been helpful for my brother during our conversation, and anyone else looking to understand some of the basic terminology behind the Balanced Scorecard. Please feel free to comment and continue expanding the scope of this list.


David Norton – El guru de la estrategia empresarial

Posted July 18, 2011 9:58 AM by Ted Jackson

I have worked closely with Dr. David Norton, co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard for more than twelve years. He has been championing the evolution of the Balanced Scorecard from a measurement concept to a management concept for the last twenty years. He speaks publicly more than once a month on the topic of the Balanced Scorecard. If you listened to him each presentation, you might think that he would get tired presenting the same material. But if you listen closely, you will see that the material evolves as the research evolves. I had the chance to listen to Dr. Norton this week in Mexico City, and listening closely, I was inspired during each presentation that the Balanced Scorecard concept is alive and well.

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Why I Hate Averages

Posted July 14, 2011 11:38 AM by Dylan Miyake

Laura Downing, one of our founding partners, knows that I have a serious thing against averages. Every time someone says "the average went up", or the "average went down" she looks over to see my face contort in horror. So what's the big deal with averages?

Filed Under Measurement
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What if a BSC Measure Formula is Changed?

Posted July 14, 2011 9:49 AM by Dylan Miyake

We were recently working with a client on their Balanced Scorecard report and noticed something very interesting. While they had 6 years of data recorded, they only wanted to show the last two. Being a little bit of a performance geek, I had to ask why they were hiding those other 4 years, especially as the trend represented by the previous two years did not match the longer trend.

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Posted July 11, 2011 10:20 PM by Brandon Kline

In my last post, "The Measures That Matter," I discussed the costliness of having too many measures and the importance of utilizing only the measures that highlight performance against your objectives. I talked about defining measurements that are linked back to objectives, but I never touched on actually creating those objectives. So, I would now like to take a small step backwards and discuss the development of objectives for your organization.

Filed Under Balanced Scorecard
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Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

Posted July 8, 2011 9:07 PM by Dylan Miyake

I'm a big fan of Monty Python, and a big fan of spiced canned meat, but I have to say that I'm not a big fan of random spam that comes to me (and other unfortunate blog owners) via comment spam. We've tried using CAPTCHA codes to slow them down, we've tried blacklisting IP addresses, and it's just a battle you can't win. Most of the spam doesn't even make any sense! So, effective today, we're moderating comments on this site. So, yes, I will still get to enjoy the crazy comments, but hopefully I can spare some of you. Continue past the break for the eponymous skit.

Filed Under Communication
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Performance Management Best Practices

Posted July 1, 2011 2:22 PM by Ted Jackson

"It's great to be among my fellow Performance Management Geeks." An apropos opening by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) at the 2011 Performance Symposium presented by the Department of Defense with the Performance Improvement Council. Senator Warner was one of many influential speakers who delivered high impact presentations to an audience of Lean Six Sigma Black Belts, Performance Improvement Officers and every other flavor of performance management professional that you will find across the federal government. As a proud member of the Performance Management Geeks club I wanted to capture some of the key messages and takeaways from the symposium and share them here.

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