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Perform Strategic Management Right with a Balanced Scorecard

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Strategy Map (20-slide PowerPoint presentation). A Strategy Map is a diagram that conveys the primary strategic goals being pursued by an organization. It is a strategic part of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) framework to describe strategies for value creation. More specifically, a Strategy Map describes how our organization creates value by [read more]

Also, if you are interested in becoming an expert on Performance Management, take a look at Flevy's Performance Management Frameworks offering here. This is a curated collection of best practice frameworks based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. By learning and applying these concepts, you can you stay ahead of the curve. Full details here.

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It’s (relatively) easy to come up with a corporate vision, with a mission statement, with a set of strategies.  But, when it comes to the execution of that vision and strategy, things become much more challenging.  This difficulty increases  as the size of the organization increases.  For proper strategic performance management, a number of methodologies and tools exist.  The best strategic management framework is still the Balanced Scorecard (BSC).

First, let’s define strategic management.  Wikipedia states strategic management analyzes the major initiatives taken by a company’s top management on behalf of owners, involving resources and performance in external environments. It entails specifying the organization’s mission, vision and objectives, developing policies and plans, often in terms of projects and programs, which are designed to achieve these objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the policies and plans, projects and programs.  It is a level of management activities below setting goals and above tactics.

The goal of every business is to make a profit.  As such, corporate goals, initiatives, and investments all typically are tied to financial metrics.  How will it impact sales?  What is the ROI?  How long is the payback?  Resultantly, most strategic management systems focus on Financial Measures.  The Balanced Scorecard differs in that it takes a “balanced” approach by supplementing traditional financial measures with three important non-financial categories:

  • Customer Relationships
  • Internal Business Processes
  • Learning and Growth

This balanced approach allows organizations to track financial results, while simultaneously monitoring progress in building the capabilities and acquiring the intangible assets they need for continued, sustainable growth.

The foundation of the strategic management approach should be based on BSC.  With the scorecard and metrics in place, the organization should adopt a continuous, iterative approach to managing its strategy and BSC.  Though this process, companies can achieve the following:

  1. Clarify and update the overall corporate strategy;
  2. Communicate the strategy throughout the organization;
  3. Align departmental and individual goals with the strategy;
  4. Link strategic objectives to long-term targets and annual budgets;
  5. Identify and align strategies initiatives; and
  6. Conduct periodic performance reviews to learn about and improve strategy.
Note that the Balanced Scorecard approach can also be implemented independently at a lower level, e.g. at a departmental or project initiative level.  For reasons started above, it is the preferred scorecarding methodology for many organizations and consulting firms.  You can learn more about the Balanced Scorecard here.

Properly implementing BSC requires an iterative set of four processes.

Process 1. Translating the Vision

The first process is to translate the vision.  This involves converting the vision statement into operational terms.  The process also ensures that, at the management level, we gain consensus and its true essence.  Whereas gaining consensus may seem an easy and self-evident task, it often is not.  Vision statements are often vague and easily interpreted differently by different people.  In other words, even though everyone may agree to a vision statement, each person may have formed a different interpretation of what that statement actually refers to in operational terms.

Process 2. Communication and Linking

The second involves communicating the translated vision down through the organization and educating people on what it means.  It also involves setting objectives and linking rewards to performance metrics.

Process 3. Business Planning

Business planning must then be performed in accordance to the work done in the previous two processes.  Business planning activities include setting targets, aligning strategic initiatives, and allocation resources.  In most companies, strategic planning and budgeting are two separate processes.  BSC forces your organization to integrate the two processes.

Process 4. Feedback and Learning

This fourth process provides a mechanism for strategic feedback and review.  It allows for continuous strategic refinements. Info that can be tracked with the scorecard for this include feedback on products, new learnings about internal processes, and technological discoveries.

As the diagram above illustrates, Feedback and Learning feeds back into Translating the Vision.

Of course, the approach to strategic management can be driven by the size of the organization.   A global organization may employ a more structured strategic management model. This is due to its size, scope of operations, and need to encompass stakeholder views and requirements.

A small or mid-sized business may adopt an entrepreneurial approach. This is due to its comparatively smaller size and scope of operations, as well as possessing fewer resources. In such cases, the CEO may simply outline a mission, and pursue all activities under that mission.

The Balanced Scorecard approach becomes more useful and necessary as the size of the organization increases.

For a deeper discussion, check out these resources:

34-slide PowerPoint presentation
What is the Balanced Scorecard (BSC)? The Balanced Scorecard is a strategy performance management tool--a semi-standard structured report, supported by proven design methods and automation tools, that can be used by managers to keep track of the execution of activities by the staff within their [read more]

Want to Achieve Excellence in Performance Management?

Gain the knowledge and develop the expertise to become an expert in Performance Management. Our frameworks are based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. Click here for full details.

Performance Management (also known as Strategic Performance Management, Performance Measurement, Business Performance Management, Enterprise Performance Management, or Corporate Performance Management) is a strategic management approach for monitoring how a business is performing. It describes the methodologies, metrics, processes, systems, and software that are used for monitoring and managing the business performance of an organization.

As Peter Drucker famously said, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."

Having a structured and robust Strategic Performance Management system (e.g. the Balanced Scorecard) is critical to the sustainable success of any organization; and affects all areas of our organization.

Learn about our Performance Management Best Practice Frameworks here.

Readers of This Article Are Interested in These Resources

30-slide PowerPoint presentation
The Balanced Scorecard (BSC), developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, is a Strategic Performance Management System. It is a semi-standard structured report, supported by proven design methods and automation tools, that can be used by managers to keep track of the execution of activities by the [read more]

35-slide PowerPoint presentation
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About David Tang

David Tang is an entrepreneur and management consultant. His current focus is Flevy, the marketplace for business best practices (e.g. frameworks & methodologies, presentation templates, financial models). Prior to Flevy, David worked as a management consultant for 8 years. His consulting experience spans corporate strategy, marketing, operations, change management, and IT; both domestic and international (EMEA + APAC). Industries served include Media & Entertainment, Telecommunications, Consumer Products/Retail, High-Tech, Life Sciences, and Business Services. You can connect with David here on LinkedIn.

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