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Communicating the Balanced Scorecard – Continued

Posted June 14, 2011 1:47 PM by Ted Jackson

OK, I forgot to finish my story about my plane flight and the nice woman who was so poorly introduced to the Balanced Scorecard by her University. Well, it turns out that she did have some established goals in her department, and at the end of the year, she was evaluated on these goals as well as several other measures as part of her Balanced Scorecard review. She said "it would have been nice if they would have told me what they were measuring before they gave me the evaluation." I responded, in a very sophisticated manner, "Duh!"

I knew I was only hearing one side of the story, but it was compelling and a bit shocking. How could the university expect this department director to motivate her department to excel at executing strategy if they didn't even give her the measures at the beginning of the evaluation period. It was like playing a game without the rules. I said that maybe she would now know better for next year. At least she knew the measures and could push her team to drive results.

So the story gets a little weirder. She said, that her department got between 75% and 85% on most of her scorecard measures. She reached out to the scorecard group to arrange a meeting to learn about her results. That group asked why she would want to meet with them because her department did better than most departments, so she should be happy. She responded with the following:

  • I want to know what the target is. What level of performance were you looking for?
  • How did you determine it was 75% or 80%? What was the formula you were using?
  • What about other departments? How did they do? How did my department compare against them?
  • What is my target for next year and what should I be doing to improve?

So what is the lesson here? If you are trying to align your organization with a concept like the Balanced Scorecard, don't miss out on the opportunity to communicate and get buy in across your organization. With a little bit of involvement from the department heads, my airplane friend could have been a big proponent of the Balanced Scorecard rather than a skeptic of her own university. It also begs the importance of having transparency in the process. I like to implement measure templates in organizations I'm working with to ensure that they all understand the formula and targets for each measure. How is it calculated, and what makes red, amber or green?

To conclude my story, my new friend invited me over for dinner to talk more about the BSC and its application in education environments. It turns out that her husband does research on performance management in education. I now look at people on the plane a little differently and try to communicate a little better.

Nice story. It just goes to show that everyone who is a part of balanced scorecard analysis needs to understand not only what it involves, but more importantly what is trying to be achieved. Thanks
# Posted By Rob Whitwood | 7/9/11 6:44 AM
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