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Implementing the Balanced Scorecard – Getting Staff Involved and Owning It

Posted August 3, 2012 1:39 PM by Mark Cutler

Almost always when we begin working with client leadership teams to implement the Balanced Scorecard in their organizations, the question is asked about when and how to get staff involved. I am not sure if this is an issue specific to mission-driven organizations whose leadership teams are often wary of the top-down, "forcing" of a strategy upon their staff. Regardless, this can be one of the more difficult aspects of strategy implementation for leaders of consensus-driven organizations.

From the beginning of an engagement with a pretty big client that has several layers of management, the leadership team has been asking how they get their staff involved early so they buy in to the Balanced Scorecard strategy management framework. While there is no one right answer to this question, our experience tells us there are several ways to get staff engaged.

"Brown Paper" Sessions and Measures, Initiatives Teams

First, conduct "brown paper" sessions with them. Once your leadership team is comfortable with an initial version of your strategy map, show it to staff in working sessions. With a large "wall size" version, tell them the story of the strategy map. Then, pass out sticky notes and ask them to write their name or department on them and then place them on the objectives on the map where they feel there work is represented or they feel they can influence the strategy. This helps them visualize how they fit in.

Another option is to put staff on your measures or initiatives teams. While the leadership team dictates what the strategic objectives of your organization should be, the staff on the front lines can help determine what the best measures are for tracking progress toward achieving those objectives and what key projects need to be implemented to help make progress on objectives. Giving staff this voice helps gain their buy-in.

Look to Leaders in Your Organization for Ideas

Of course, you can also look to people in your organization for suggestions of how to get everyone involved. For example, one mid-level manager at the client I mentioned earlier understood the importance of getting her staff involved quickly. After the executive leadership team presented the region's strategy map to managers, she turned around and forwarded it to her staff.

This manager told her staff that the strategic objectives on the map were what they were going to be measured against going forward – a strategy that was a departure from the long-established way of measuring their success. She asked that they tell her what they were doing in these 10-15 areas so she would be able to report up.

I'm not sure if she could have anticipated the response, but to a consultant brought in to help them change the way they were measuring their success, it was eye-opening. She received pages of stories from staff describing what they were doing in the many areas described by the strategic objectives. Needless to say, her staff was engaged and already telling their own story of how they were implementing the organization's strategy.