Our Blog

What do Alabama Football and the Balanced Scorecard have in Common?

Posted September 24, 2012 8:56 AM by Ted Jackson

I’m originally from Alabama, and thus I’m a big Crimson Tide fan.  These are good times to be a fan with Nick Saban as coach and two national championships in the past three years.  Imagine if this was your organization.  It means that two of the last three years, you executed your strategy the exact way you designed it.  You accomplished all of your organization goals and excelled in all measurable areas.  It appears that you are on track for long term success.  For the University of Alabama, it means there is a lot of media attention to try to figure out the formula for the success. <more/>

There have been many articles in sports magazines, and there have been them in business publications as well, including the Wall Street Journal.  I was reading Fortune magazine’s article by Brian O’Keefe about Alabama, and it reminded me of the Balanced Scorecard.  O’Keefe quotes Saban as saying “First you’ve got to have a vision. Then you’ve got to have a plan to implement it.”  I agree completely.  We’ve been helping many nonprofits and NGOs with visioning exercises, change agendas, and strategy maps to lay out the plan to implement the change needed in an organization.

As for the implementation plan at Alabama, there is a phrase for it “the Process.” The Process is a disciplined operational approach that keeps the assistant coaches and players focused on execution.  He thinks about all of the components and aligns all of the activities, including training, recruiting, practices, and academics to the Process.  Now, imagine your organization.  Do you take all of your business units or key functions and think about how they operate?  Are they all aligned in executing the strategy and getting the right things done?

One of the things I found interesting in the Fortune article is that O’Keefe points out that the Process gives the coaches and the players more confidence in what happens.  If they need to adjust on the field, in the middle of the game, they can, because they know they have a set of activities that they have been working on and they trust that everyone knows their roles.  Again, if you have a clear strategy in your organization, you will be able to adjust when something extraordinary happens because your entire team will have a vision of where you are trying to go.  In the mission-driven space, I’m confident that Saban would love City-Stat, School-Stat, and strategy review meetings as a way to examine the activities, look at data, and make decisions to help achieve results.  His results speak for themselves: 48-6 in the last five years.  They are 4-0 this year (at the time of this blog). Two crystal trophies are in the cabinet so far. David Norton would be impressed with the Achievement Results.   Roll Tide!!!