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The Balanced Scorecard Isn’t Just About Measurement

Posted January 5, 2014 4:45 PM by Mark Cutler

Just this past week, I was interviewing a client at a North American unit of a large international organization as part of a project to help align this unit with the Balanced Scorecard of its corporate parent, when the client made an interesting comment to me.

“I’ve been spending most of the past year working on the behavioral aspect of alignment within my sphere of control in the organization,” he said.  “So the timing of your work is good, we should start measuring now.” 

While this person, an executive vice president at the organization, was trying to positive and encouraging about my project, I seized the opportunity to get on my “soap box” a little regarding the BSC.

“I like your thinking,” I said.  “However, I’d argue—and I hope you will start to see—that the BSC is more than just a measurement system.  It actually should provide ample support for and reinforce any behavior-based activities you are implementing.

“By defining and communicating strategic objectives and measures, the BSC sends everyone in your organization a signal about what behavior you are trying to promote,” I continued.  “Measuring your organization’s performance is only part of it. Driving the desired performance is also key.”

He responded that he hadn’t really thought of it like that, but he saw my point.  In fact, I think it helped him provide more effective answers to my interview questions as he thought about not only the strategic vision for his organization for the next three to five years, but the objectives and measures that would best help to drive strategy execution across the organization.

At the close of the interview, he even paraphrased one of our favorite phrases at Ascendant right back at me:  What gets measured, gets done.