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Finding Balance

Posted July 19, 2012 10:15 AM by Dylan Miyake

A key concept in the "Balanced" Scorecard is the idea of "balance." As originally envisioned by Drs. Kaplan and Norton, balance meant that financial indicators should be balanced by customer, internal process, and learning and growth measures. But over the years, the idea of balance has grown to mean a lot more in the world of the Balanced Scorecard.

An early expansion of the idea of balance was that lagging indicators (like revenue per share or customer satisfaction) should be balanced by leading indicators (like "new product revenue" or "number of problems solved on the first call.") Getting this balance right is an art, of course, as many indicators are both leading and lagging depending on your point of view and where you are in the value chain. But having the discussion is the important thing.

The next expansion of the idea of balance was with strategic themes. Tracey and Wiersma introduced the idea of "baseline" and "differentiated" competencies in their "Value Discipline" model. The Balanced Scorecard integrated that idea into common strategic themes that must be balanced: Operational Excellence, Customer Intimacy, and Product Innovation. While you should focus on one area, you can't ignore the others. Hence the balance.

The idea of balancing strategy review meetings and operational review meetings is the latest innovation in our space. With the realization that tactics crowd out strategy, we must create a balanced governance calendar that includes both operational review meetings (at the frequency that makes sense for your organization) and strategy review meetings (at least quarterly). This way, teams can focus on operations at operations meetings and extend their focus to strategy at strategy reviews.

So, while the Balanced Scorecard is often called the "scorecard" in shorthand, remembering the balance is critical to its success in your organization.