Our Blog

The Ultimate Measure

Posted May 30, 2012 12:22 PM by Dylan Miyake

For private sector organizations, it's usually pretty easy to figure out the ultimate measure of success -- it's usually some proxy for profitability -- either earnings per share, revenue growth, or share of market. But for the clients we work with, it's often a bit harder. While we can usually define the strategic objective pretty clearly, it's harder to define the measure behind it.

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Performance Measurement Professionals Rejoice

Posted May 29, 2012 9:29 AM by Ted Jackson

In my two decades of consulting in the area of strategy management I have encouraged many organizations to hire an in-house performance management professional. I have observed it is often difficult for organizations to create a new position and recruit for a position that has not existed in the past. Why has it taken so long for performance management to become a recognized discipline? Who knows? But is seems our day has come. All three sectors: government, nonprofits and private sector have recognized their need for formal performance management! Performance management professionals can now find jobs in their field and organizations can now find experienced talent in performance management!

The US Federal Government took a huge step forward when it announced an update to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. GPRA Modernization Act 2010. The GPRA Modernization Act requires every Government Department have a Performance Improvement Officer. It also called for the creation of the Performance Improvement Council which holds bi-monthly meetings, shares best practices and sponsors active working groups to address issues of interest to its members. Watch for Office of Personnel Management to soon formalize a performance management job descriptions and career paths. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for an increasing number of job openings in performance shops across the government. Non-profits or charities have also come to realize the importance of performance management. Donors, government funders and communities now demand transparency and results. Data collection, analysis and informed decision making are becoming the norm rather than the exception. I was thrilled to see that Bridgestar that has long been the clearing house for nonprofits looking for Chief Operating Officers recently provided guidelines on how to hire a performance professional. Finding Your First Measurement Director

It is hard to believe it has been years since Kaplan and Norton first called for the creation of an executive role of Strategy Management Officer as the cornerstone of a Strategy Focused Organization Strategy Management Officer. but it is a position I frequently see. CEOs have come to realize that there needs to be someone overseeing strategy management rather than strategy development.

So, if you are an organization seeking a team member with performance management capabilities rest assured they are out there and they have experience! If you are one of those professionals out there who has developed some expertise in the performance management arena. Take heart, more and more organizations have come to recognize their need for your talents!

Happy Memorial Day!

Posted May 29, 2012 12:00 AM by Brandon Kline

As we celebrate Memorial Day and honor our veterans and military families for their service and sacrifice, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the great work our government is doing to support our veterans.

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Educational Leadership & Its Involvement in Strategy Management

Posted May 23, 2012 2:37 PM by Ted Jackson

The following is a guest blog by Hanna Lindstrom

Administrative management in opposition to leadership management has been the buzz of the corporate world for the last decade. As American schools struggle to produce student outcomes on par with international standards, school systems are resorting the management theories of the private sector in the attempt to better themselves, and the opposition between these two managerial styles is now becoming a topic in many different fields of study. Both business schools and educational leadership courses have begun debating how best to hone management skills in order to produce far more with very little.

Middle and senior managers are unavoidable in the structure of school administration. Multiple departments, such as math, language, sciences, as well as the seniority of staff members mandate that a system of hierarchy be in place. The curriculum is influenced by voter-citizens and involved parents, as well as national standards. Traditional management models are necessary for enforcing the status quo and providing execution on a predetermined plan. But this leaves schools vulnerable to "managerialism," a system in which rules and regulations become inflexible, hierarchies are cherished. Creative problem solving in these systems is often looked at with suspicion.

Enter leadership management style, where the boss leads with creative vision. The Wall Street Journal published an excellent overview of the differences in managerial style. Under this leadership style, teachers and mid-level managers are challenged to engage in critical decision making, to transform and to own a portion of the process of administration. They are encouraged to act with abstract goals in mind, as opposed to reacting to micro-managerial breaches of regulation.

Tony Bush emphasizesTony Bush emphasizes the need for school administrators to take on both roles of manager-enforcer and leader-inspirer simultaneously. In the course of the day-to-day affairs of the administration, principals may not be able to distinguish these roles from one another, and Bush emphasizes the need for full understanding of the context of economies of labor and resources. For example, an underperforming school with little in the way of stability or structure requires a heavier hand in management, rather than a visionary approach.

Distributive leadership is a tool for flattening decision-making hierarchies and assigning administrative challenges to task forces or teams. It allows the senior school managers to relinquish administration to the people who keep themselves apprised of the needs of the students. Outcomes improve with flexibility and responsiveness.

And yet distributive leadership is not a panacea, according to educators Alma Harris and James Spillane. It is more a way of offering a critical reexamination of our current administrative model in schools. It points to the revaluation of leadership as a practice rather than as the role of heroic individuals with transformational vision. Implicit is the knowledge that engaged followers are critical to the success of any leader, which contradicts the more traditional view of underlings as automatons.

All of these moves toward restructuring management have little evidence base to build on. More study is needed when introducing a flat or lean structure to schools. Bush highlights the need for concrete, underpinning values in order that these new styles of administration be safeguarded from constant manipulation by external stakeholders, such as voters, politicians and parents. Ultimately, educational staff are most aware of how to make improvements to the education of their students. This administrative approach to the current problems with secondary school education does not have a definitive thesis for what individual schools should do to change, but its perspective does have the potential to create leaders in business, thought and public policy.

Making Strategy Execution Personal for Staff

Posted May 21, 2012 11:06 PM by Mark Cutler

At Ascendant, when we work with the executives and managers of mission-driven organizations to help them develop and implement their Balanced Scorecards (BSC), we are often asked the question: "How do we get staff engaged?"

While sometimes this question comes up when developing the strategy map, measures, and initiatives, it also arises once these pieces of the BSC are complete and leaders want to know what's next.

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Top Concerns of City & County Managers

Posted May 10, 2012 11:24 AM by Dylan Miyake

The economy is swinging up and down and municipal governments are feeling the pressure. Cities and counties have had to "cut the fat" for at least the last three years.

As a participant at the recent Florida Benchmarking Consortium conference in Winter Park, Florida, I had the opportunity to listen in while managers reported their top concerns and brainstormed potential solutions. Some of these threats and/or weaknesses are specific to government while others apply more broadly.

Do any of the challenges relate to your organization? Have you found any other solutions?

Filed Under Benchmarking
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Working with a Mission-Driven Organization during a Leadership Change

Posted May 4, 2012 5:10 PM by Mark Cutler

Helping a mission-driven organization develop its Balanced Scorecard and implement its strategy is always a long, arduous journey with its share of unique challenges. When you start with a division or region of a large organization that is trying to be the early adopter, additional challenges and question arise around the fact that very little, if any, guidance is given because the organization may not yet know the full rules of engagement.

Some leaders see this as a reason to go slow and be careful, while other--I would argue more visionary--leaders view it as an opportunity to blaze the trail and set the rules for others to follow. An additional level of complexity, and second-guessing, may be added if the organization is the largest multilateral development agency in the world. This interesting scenario is playing out right now with a client of ours, the World Bank.

Filed Under Leadership
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The Creativity Conundrum In Educational Leadership

Posted May 2, 2012 5:23 PM by Ted Jackson

This is a guest blog from Roslyn Tam. The original can be found at www.educationalleadership.com.

Many of the men and women who shaped the world over the course of history, from Mozart to Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, have done so by thinking well outside the sphere of traditional education. Famously, each of these men had some issues with authority, and it's hard to imagine any of them sitting placidly in a classroom and copying facts and figures from a chalkboard. In the end, their genius was not simply in their ability to understand complex systems, although that was certainly an important part of it. What set them apart was their creativity--that is, their ability to use previously held knowledge to produce something that no one had ever thought to make before; whether a symphony, a scientific theory or a personal computer.

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Voice of the Customer- Improving Your Community Outreach

Posted May 1, 2012 8:33 AM by Dylan Miyake

The phrases "Citizen Outreach" and "Voice of the Customer" have been popular topics over the past few weeks. The trend started at an Alliance for Innovation Conference in Kansas City.

Filed Under Community Outreach
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