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The KPI.org Blog

Tim Johnson Tim Johnson

Tim is a contributing author and BSI's former Director of Consulting with over 32 years of experience in management and professional services management consulting. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, portfolio management, performance measurement/management, project management and business process improvement.

Why Strategic Planning Fails - Part 7

By: Tim Johnson

Jul 16, 2018 204 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Communication

This is the seventh installment in a blog series that discusses potential pitfalls that could hold you back from being fully successful in your strategic planning efforts.  The first was ensuring that you have full leadership support before you begin the strategic planning initiative, the second was generating needed buy-in across the organization, the third was making sure you build that strategy in a way that it can be executed effectively, the fourth was prioritizing to narrow your focus, the fifth was integrating the strategy into how you do business and the sixth was ensuring you have effective execution of the strategy.  As I started the first blog of the series, most things that I have been successful at in my life have been because I did it the right way and using the right tools.  At the Balanced Scorecard Institute, we have the “Nine-Step Process” to building a strategic management system.  We believe in this approach and we have helped hundreds of clients develop comprehensive strategic plans with a management system that enables them to effectively execute strategy.  I myself have worked with over 80 organizations and have seen very successful strategic planning efforts and also those that were less so!  I wanted to share some observations as to where those that were not as successful went wrong along the way. 

The seventh and final pitfall is not communicating the strategy effectively.  As we are told with any change management effort: communicate, communicate, communicate!  In our balanced certification courses we love to give the example of a vision as John F. Kennedy announcing in 1962 that by the ended of the decade he wanted the United States as a nation to put a man on the moon.  It was a great vision and it really captured the imagination of the nation.  Everyone was on board and understood what we were trying to accomplish.  And at NASA, it is said that everyone understood how what they did was going to help the agency put a man on the moon.  There was effective communication that lead to overwhelming commitment.  Not only for those that worked at NASA, but truly by almost the entire country.  For effective change management to occur it must be well communicated.  People have to understand the “burning platform” behind the reason for change.  It must become so personal that they can translate what they do in terms of how it is going to help the organization become successful.  It is only when you get this kind of understanding and buy-in that strategy really is let loose throughout the organization.

If this pitfall sounds familiar, contact us. Communication throughout the strategic planning process is critical but it's especially important before the process begins and after it's implemented. 

This completes this blog series.  Again, these are not the only reasons why strategies fail, but just some of the key impediments I have seen that hold organizations back from realizing the many benefits to developing a strategy and a supporting strategic management system.

Missed Part 6 of the blog series? You can read it here

Tim Johnson Tim Johnson

Tim is a contributing author and BSI's former Director of Consulting with over 32 years of experience in management and professional services management consulting. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, portfolio management, performance measurement/management, project management and business process improvement.

Why Strategic Planning Fails - Part 5

By: Tim Johnson

Jun 27, 2018 609 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Integrating into how you do business

This is the fifth installment in a blog series that discusses potential pitfalls that could hold you back from being fully successful in your strategic planning efforts.  The first was ensuring that you have full leadership support before you begin the strategic planning initiative, the second was generating needed buy-in across the organization, the third was making sure you build that strategy in a way that it can be executed effectively and the fourth was prioritizing to narrow your focus and bite off what you can chew.  As I started the first blog of the series, most things that I have been successful at in my life have been because I did it the right way and using the right tools.  At the Balanced Scorecard Institute, we have the “Nine-Step Process” to building a strategic management system.  We believe in this approach and we have helped hundreds of clients develop comprehensive strategic plans with a management system that enables them to effectively execute strategy.  I myself have worked with over 80 organizations and have seen very successful strategic planning efforts and also those that were less so!  I wanted to share some observations as to where those that were not as successful went wrong along the way. 

The fifth pitfall is not integrating the strategy into how you do business.  I was once at an organization conducting interviews in preparation of facilitating strategic planning and made a startling observation.  My first day onsite I noticed one of those old metal filing cabinets, and on top was a plant that was kind of wilted and maybe overwatered.  There were leaves fallen all around and the plant was sitting on a thick document to keep it from rusting out that filing cabinet.  For some reason I went over and lifted the plant and found that the organization’s previous strategic plan was the filing cabinet protector!  I took a picture of this phenomenon and then made sure to open up the strategic planning session by displaying that picture.  I told them if this is what we are going to do with the strategy we are about to develop, then let’s just all go home now!  Of course, they got the message, but the point is that if you are going to go through the effort then really make the strategy you develop a part of how you do business.  Budgets should be aligned accordingly (not putting funding against the strategy is obviously a huge impediment!), rewards and incentives should be aligned, training should be built in to support future skill requirements, IT priorities should reflect desire future capability development to name just a few integration points.  To truly make strategy work, it must be integrated across the breadth of the entire organization.

If this pitfall sounds familiar, contact us. Organizations have leveraged BSI’s expertise for many years by bringing us onsite to facilitate strategic actions to improve performance, build strategic management systems, provide on-site technical support, and coach leaders and managers how to execute strategy and create high performance organization.

Over the next few blogs we will explore two additional potential pitfalls I have seen that hold organizations back from realizing the many benefits to developing a strategy and a supporting strategic management system.

Missed Part 4 of the blog series? You can read it here.  Read Part 6 here

Tim Johnson Tim Johnson

Tim is a contributing author and BSI's former Director of Consulting with over 32 years of experience in management and professional services management consulting. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, portfolio management, performance measurement/management, project management and business process improvement.

Why Strategic Planning Fails - Part 4

By: Tim Johnson

Jun 20, 2018 633 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

This is the fourth installment in a blog series that discusses potential pitfalls that could hold you back from being fully successful in your strategic planning efforts.  The first was ensuring that you have full leadership support before you begin the strategic planning initiative, the second was generating needed buy-in across the organization and the third was making sure you build that strategy in a way that it can be executed effectively.  As I started the first blog of the series, most things that I have been successful at in my life have been because I did it the right way and using the right tools.  At the Balanced Scorecard Institute, we have the “Nine-Step Process” to building a strategic management system.  We believe in this approach and we have helped hundreds of clients develop comprehensive strategic plans with a management system that enables them to effectively execute strategy.  I myself have worked with over 80 organizations and have seen very successful strategic planning efforts and also those that were less so!  I wanted to share some observations as to where those that were not as successful went wrong along the way. 

The fourth pitfall is not prioritizing—biting off more than you can chew!  The Japanese have something called "Hoshin Planning."  The idea is that they go through a very rigorous strategic planning effort to find a handful things that they need to accomplish to be successful.  And then everyone gets on board and they execute those critical few strategies across the organization.  It provides focus. Not that I am advocating that you find just a couple strategic priorities to focus on strategically, but the point is that there is a limit to the amount of resources available to focus on strategic transformation.  People have day jobs that are mostly about driving the organization operationally.  They each do not have 16 hours of work day to get everything done that you would like!  So instead of identifying 50 initiatives to accomplish, identify first what resources you have year-over-year and then build a roadmap on when initiatives will be executed that is going to guide your efforts.  Like climbing a mountain, we first have to understand what we need to do to get to “base camp 1” and then from there to the next succession of base camps until we are at the top of the mountain!  By spreading the organization to thin you run the risk of doing a lot of things, but not getting anything done!

If this pitfall sounds familiar, then you might be interested in our Balanced Scorecard Professional Certification workshop which gives practitioners the tools and skills they need to help prioritize in tough economic times. 

Over the next few blogs we will explore three additional potential pitfalls I have seen that hold organizations back from realizing the many benefits to developing a strategy and a supporting strategic management system.

You can read Part 5 here.  Missed Part 3 of the blog series? You can read it here
Tim Johnson Tim Johnson

Tim is a contributing author and BSI's former Director of Consulting with over 32 years of experience in management and professional services management consulting. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, portfolio management, performance measurement/management, project management and business process improvement.

Why Strategic Planning Fails - Part 2

By: Tim Johnson

Jun 5, 2018 740 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Generating Buy-in

This is the second installment in a blog series that discusses potential pitfalls that could hold you back from being fully successful in your strategic planning efforts. The first was ensuring that you have full leadership support before you begin the strategic planning initiative. As I started the first blog of the series, most things that I have been successful at in my life have been because I did it the right way and used the right tools. At the Balanced Scorecard Institute, we have the “Nine-Step Process” to building a strategic management system. We believe in this approach and we have helped hundreds of clients develop comprehensive strategic plans with a management system that enables them to effectively execute strategy. I myself have worked with over 80 organizations and have seen very successful strategic planning efforts and also those that were less so! I wanted to share some observations as to where those that were not as successful went wrong along the way.

The second pitfall I have experienced is people not buying in to the strategy as it is developed. As mentioned in Part 1, too many times I have seen a leader or small cadre of leaders piece together a strategy and then expect everyone to understand it and get on board. This is not what works! People tend to own what they help create. The more people you can involve in creating the strategy, the more people you have who understand it and support it in the halls and by the water coolers.

There are some key places where involving more people is easy to do and very helpful. The first is in generating ideas up front concerning the future environment in which the organization will exist. Externally what are the opportunities that will be available in the future? What are the threats that need to be considered and mitigated? Internally what are the strengths and weaknesses that could have the most strategic impact on our future success? By getting people to provide input you are first informing them on the process and second telling them that their ideas are valued. You can also involve people beyond the leadership team when developing measurable objectives, KPIs and initiatives. You can find people willing to step up and “own” an objective or to lead an initiative. Again, the more people that are involved, the more traction you are creating within the organization to help drive change and execution.

If this pitfall sounds familiar, then you might be interested in our Strategy Execution—Success Through Leadership workshop which addresses major obstacles and challenges faced in strategy efforts, and techniques on how to overcome them or let us facilitate your group to build support for the system.

Over the next few blogs we will explore five additional potential pitfalls I have seen that hold organizations back from realizing the many benefits to developing a strategy and a supporting strategic management system.

You can read Part 3 here.  Missed Part 1 of the blog series? You can read it here

Tim Johnson Tim Johnson

Tim is a contributing author and BSI's former Director of Consulting with over 32 years of experience in management and professional services management consulting. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, portfolio management, performance measurement/management, project management and business process improvement.

Why Strategic Planning Fails - Part 1

By: Tim Johnson

May 30, 2018 1072 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Gaining Senior Leadership Support

My father gave me an important piece of advice once that I will always remember.  “Always have the right tool for the job!”  Of course, I had to re-learn that lesson through the years a few times, but it really is good advice.  Most things that I have been successful at in my life have been because I did it the right way and using the right tools.  In the military they teach us to follow the process and meet the standards.  Of course, there are exceptions to any rule, but generally there are proven approaches available that help guide us to effectively and efficiently accomplishing what we undertake. 

At the Balanced Scorecard Institute, we have the "Nine Step Process" to building a strategic management system.  We believe in this approach and we have helped hundreds of clients develop comprehensive strategic plans with a management system that enables them to effectively execute strategy.  I myself have worked with over 80 organizations and have seen very successful strategic planning efforts and also those that were less so!  I wanted to share some observations as to where those that were not as successful went wrong along the way.  Over a series of seven blogs I wanted to share with you a handful of observations that could hold back a successful strategy initiative.  The seven that I will share are not meant to cover every potential pitfall, but they are definitely some of the most common fails I have seen in my experience.

The first pitfall has to do with not gaining Senior Leadership support before you begin the effort.  One of the first principles we stress in our Balanced Scorecard Professional Certification program is that if the leaders are not out in front of the strategic planning effort, it has zero chance of being successful.  I once had an executive approach me during our first break at a strategic planning offsite and tell me “I don’t like where this is going!  If I want them to have a strategy, then I will give them one!”  I was a bit taken aback and explained that if he was just to “pontificate” his strategy for his team to execute, then he would not be generating the needed buy-in to execute the plan later.  It would be his plan and his alone.  While he ended up eventually coming around, it could have been catastrophic if the key leader was not on board with the process and approach.  Additionally, not only should leaders be “okay” with developing strategy, they must be the biggest cheerleaders and talk about it in meetings, town halls, board meetings and any other opportunity they have to share the organization’s path forward.  Everyone needs to understand that the leaders completely support the effort, and the strategy will be executed.  Everyone involved must understand that there is “no turning back” and that its time to get on the bus!

If this pitfall sounds familiar, then you might be interested in our Balanced Scorecard Professional Certification course where leadership development, communications and change management action is discussed and becomes part of the strategy process or our Strategy Execution—Success Through Leadership workshop which addresses major obstacles and challenges faced in strategy efforts, and techniques on how to overcome them.

Over the next few blogs we will explore six additional potential pitfalls I have seen that hold organizations back from realizing the many benefits to developing a strategy and a supporting strategic management system.

You can read Part 2 here.

Howard Rohm Howard Rohm

Howard Rohm is the Co-Founder and President of the Balanced Scorecard Institute. Howard is an author, performance management trainer and consultant, technologist, and keynote speaker with over 40 years' experience.

Obfuscating Objectives

By: Howard Rohm

Feb 15, 2018 2011 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

One of our clients decided to build their strategy map and balanced scorecard themselves after some training. They created a draft strategy map with 12 strategic objectives, linked together in a cause-effect chain--the strategy map--that showed how value was being created for their customers and the owners of the business. A few months after the training, the number went from 12 objectives to 32. Why? – a lack of discipline around the strategy development process and a feeling by a few folks who did not attend training that “more is better”.

How many strategic objectives should there be on a strategy map? Ten, fifteen, twenty? Are more objectives better? How many are too many?  How few are too few?

A strategy map is a visual representation of a strategy—it’s a hypothesis of what an organization has to do to create value for its customers and owners. For a private sector business, the owners are the shareholders; for a mission-driven organization -- nonprofit or government -- the “owners” at the end of the value chain are the benefiting stakeholders, e.g., members of an association, citizens of a government.

Strategic objectives, when connected in cause-effect links, represent a strategy hypothesis that can be tested and progress monitored using strategic measures of performance—KPIs—developed as part of the strategy development process. A good strategy map requires good objectives.

Objectives are used to identify measurable strategic intended results; develop KPIs that measure strategy progress; identify, prioritize and track actionable initiatives; build employee accountability; and communicate corporate vision and strategy internally and externally. We’ve identified a set of best practices for creating strategic objectives and strategy maps from our training and consulting engagements worldwide:

  • Objectives are not start/stop activities or projects (those are initiatives)…objectives are continuous improvement activities that work together to produce value
  • Twelve to 14 objectives are a good number for a corporate strategy map (organization size doesn’t matter here)
  • Objectives indicate action and the potential for continuous improvement (Remember: strategic objectives are the DNA of your strategy—they make strategy actionable and understandable throughout the organization.)
  • Objectives should be balanced among the four perspectives in a scorecard
  • Objectives are “altitude sensitive”—if the strategic altitude is too high, it’s hard to translate “lofty” language into employee action…if too low, objectives will be framed in operational, not strategic, language
  • Prioritized strategic initiatives, linked to each objective, should propel the organization forward toward its goals and vision
  • Objectives should be measurable based on the associated intended results, to monitor progress toward accomplishment

Arguably one of the most important contributions to the science of management in the past two decades, strategy maps communicate the organization’s value proposition with clarity, both internally to employees so they can see how they “fit” in the organization, and externally to boards and other stakeholders.

Get strategic objectives and your strategy map right and your balanced strategic plan and strategy story will come alive quickly and clearly. These tools can help take your organization to the next level of performance.

You can learn more about strategic objectives and strategy mapping by reading our book, The Institute Way: Simplify Strategic Planning and Management with the Balanced Scorecard, or by attending one of our worldwide training classes.

David Wilsey David Wilsey

David Wilsey is the Chief Operating Officer with the Balanced Scorecard Institute and co-author of The Institute Way: Simplify Strategic Planning and Management with the Balanced Scorecard.

Why "World Class" Performance Isn’t Measurable

By: David Wilsey

Nov 14, 2017 3172 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus
Let’s say our organization needs to buy a fleet of vehicles and we have two procurement teams. We tell team 1 that we want quiet, blue, four-door, fuel-efficient cars. We tell team 2 that we want world-class, high-quality, great-value, high-performing cars. Then we give both teams a few weeks to find their vehicles. Guess which team will be able to produce measurable results?

Team 1 will have the easier time, as it is clearer what is meant by the criteria provided. Team 2 will struggle because their criteria are too ambiguous. Without further clarifications, “world-class” could be interpreted to mean a hot rod sports car, a luxury sedan, or even a nice SUV. And if the team cannot agree on the specifically desired result, how can it measure success? 

This example demonstrates an important principle of good measure design. Before you can design a measure, you first must agree on what result you are trying to achieve. And not all results are created equal. Results written in abstract language are less measurable and harder to implement than those written in concrete language.

Abstract language refers to concepts or vague ideals. Examples of abstract words or phrases include sustainable, innovative, reliable, leadership, quality, effective, leverage, efficient, resilient, optimized, or responsive. Strategic plans are often littered with this type of language, as we aim to deliver best practices, thought leadership or world-class performance. These “weasel words”, as they are often called, are notoriously hard to measure without first translating into concrete terms. 
Concrete language is sensory-specific, meaning it describes things you can see, hear, smell, taste, or feel. Because they are observable, concrete results are measurable. Team 1 will have no problem determining the percentage of cars procured that meet their specifications. Concrete results are also more memorable and easier to implement. 

So if you are struggling to design measures for your organization, your first step should be to clarify what result you are trying to achieve, in concrete terms.

To learn more about developing concrete results or related measures, please look into one of our KPI training or certification programs or visit kpi.org.
David Wilsey David Wilsey

David Wilsey is the Chief Operating Officer with the Balanced Scorecard Institute and co-author of The Institute Way: Simplify Strategic Planning and Management with the Balanced Scorecard.

How to Keep Lettuce Crunchy and Other Strategy Execution Lessons

By: David Wilsey

Nov 22, 2016 6488 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus
I learned two lessons in college that I still think about – one in the kitchen and one as a strategy execution consultant. My professor claimed during a cell biology lesson that if you leave iceberg lettuce in water for about 20 minutes its cells expand as they soak up the water. He said that many chefs knew that soaking lettuce in cold water made it seem fresher and crunchier but few understood that it was because the cells were packed to the bursting point.

I went home for the holidays eager to share this new lesson with my mother. This is where I learned the consulting lesson. 

My mother had been taught that in order to keep salad crisp, you should throw a slice of bread into the salad as you are making it and then pull the bread out just before serving. The thinking was that the bread soaked up the excess moisture that would otherwise lead to wilting.

When I shared my professor’s theory with her, I assumed that we would immediately begin saving a nickel per month due to all that saved bread. Instead I was surprised to find that my mother was not about to change the way she made salad because of something her son’s biology professor said, not even after I showed her that the lettuce didn’t wilt.

Strategy execution is about transformation. It is about the systematic implementation of the changes needed to move an organization forward. Unfortunately, as you try to convince people to change the way they do things, many of them react exactly like my mother did.

The change management field is built around several general principles in how to manage people through change: thoroughly communicate how/why/what change is happening, look for the “what’s-in-it-for-me” for employees, communicate using two-way dialog, remove barriers to change, celebrate success, describe a “burning platform”, etc. Strategy execution specialists bring a few more key approaches to these basic doctrines. 

Engage Around the Big Picture. A simple business case (e.g. this initiative will help us improve process efficiency and lower operating costs) often isn’t enough. To embrace change it helps to understand how a particular initiative is aligned with the overall strategy of the organization (e.g. we want to bring low cost healthcare solutions to those suffering from an ailment. If we can improve this process, the solution could be better, more consistent, and cheaper than anyone else in the market). Employees will be far more motivated to change if they believe in the strategy. Strategy professionals typically have the skills needed to articulate and communicate that story.

Make Strategy Everyone’s Job. Strategy is a team sport. Too many strategy professionals think that because they are good at it they should do all of the work themselves. But good strategy execution relies on others to implement. I can tell my mother that this is a better way or (if she were an employee) order her to follow a new process, but as long as she can dismiss the idea as an outsider’s, change will be painful. Good strategy execution professionals understand that their job is to facilitate a consensus around a shared vision rather than simply dream up a vision in a vacuum.

Pick Your Battles. Strategy is about focus and strategic thinkers should be good at prioritizing. The worst thing you can do is overwhelm employees with dozens of major changes at the same time and then when things go badly decide that it’s not worth the trouble. Better is to pick the most important changes and implement them at a pace that the organization can handle. Then think through and communicate the timeline, action steps, and resource changes that will happen as the change is rolled out.

Facilitate a Sense of Inevitability. The weakest client outcomes in my career happened when there was uncertainty about whether or not the senior-most executives were on board. A well-meaning strategic planning director that isn’t visibly supported by the executive team will struggle to move an organization forward even if they do everything else right. On the other hand, if the executive team has thoroughly and repeatedly communicated that this change is going to happen with or without you, the inertia of inevitability will convince people to jump on the bandwagon even if other change management mistakes are made.

David Wilsey David Wilsey

David Wilsey is the Chief Operating Officer with the Balanced Scorecard Institute and co-author of The Institute Way: Simplify Strategic Planning and Management with the Balanced Scorecard.

Identify Strategic Thinking with One Simple Question

By David Wilsey

Jul 29, 2014 20328 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus
I used to work on a research team for a company that produced an operational risk software product. I always found it interesting how different members of the same team answered an important question: what do you do?

Here is the way Person A and Person B responded:

Person A: We do research on the internet and enter data points into an operational risk database.

Person B: We help banks understand operational risk and how much related capital they were required to reserve by providing an analytical software solution that models operational risk in the global market.

Technically both answers were correct. For the data model to be statistically significant, the product needed a certain number of data points, and our research team’s job was to research and categorize examples of operational loss in order to populate the database and make the model work. And yet, somehow Person A’s answer was always unsatisfying for some people.

It might be tempting to say that Person B was simply exaggerating the importance of their work by describing it in terms of the mission of the product line, but I think that misses an important point about the value of thinking strategically no matter what your position with the organization is. Person A was simply describing our job. Person B was describing how we created value. Different ways of describing our work was actually a window into the strategic thinking style of the team members.

From Daniel Pink to Simon Sinek and others, much has been said and written about how people are more motivated and productive when they understand the larger context for their work. Understanding why they are doing the work is profoundly important for creative professionals to feel a sense of engagement. Helping employees transition from narrowly thinking about what they do to more broadly thinking about what they are trying to accomplish can improve organizational performance in a number of ways.

The good news is that strategic thinking is a teachable skill. In our BSC Certification courses, we begin by teaching the basic semantics of strategy. At first, students mechanically append or replace the “task” language that most are comfortable with (we need to develop a new service by milestone x) with language that reflects a higher level objective (we want to improve the customer experience; the development of a new services is one option for accomplishing that). Over time, mechanical semantics evolve into an instinct for intuitively thinking about the strategic context. As students change the way they think about strategy and action, critical thinking skills improve as well (e.g. if we are trying to improve the customer experience, is a new service really the best way to do it?). The transition for many teams from always focusing on tactics and actions to always starting with the big picture and working down can be quite profound.

For more about how to improve strategic thinking in your organization, see our Balanced Scorecard Certification Program or The Institute Way: Simplify Strategic Planning and Management with the Balanced Scorecard.
Gail Stout Perry Gail Stout Perry

Gail is co-author of The Institute Way with over 20 years of strategic planning and performance management consulting experience with corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations.

Don’t Be THAT Guy!

By Gail Stout Perry

May 15, 2014 13424 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus
A very distraught woman (we’ll refer to her as Vera) recently called the Balanced Scorecard Institute office in panic.

Vera:  “Hello?  I need those flags.  Can you please overnight the flags to me?  It’s urgent!”  

Us:  “Excuse me?  I think you may have the wrong number?”

Vera:  “Isn’t this the Balanced Scorecard Institute?”

Us:  “Yes, ma’am.  But we don’t sell flags.”

Vera:  “Yes, you do.  My boss said so.”

Us: “Ummmmm….could you elaborate?”

Vera (in an exasperated tone):  “Listen!  My boss just announced that we are going to improve performance using a Balanced Scorecard.  He sent us a memo that said each store is responsible for showing performance by using red, yellow and green flags.  I’m a store manager and I am being held RESPONSIBLE!  I called the other store managers and nobody has the flags.  We all need to order those flags NOW!  You ARE the Balanced Scorecard Institute, are you not?!?”

I really am not sure we ever adequately explained to her that the “flags” are a term meaning a visual representation of the level of performance around a target value for a strategic objective or measure, with green generally indicating good performance, yellow generally indicating satisfactory performance, or red indicating poor performance.  And I’m pretty sure she thinks we are idiots for giving a complex response to a simple request to order some flags that she can wave.

For the record, I am not making fun of the caller herself.  She was an intelligent woman and obviously a dedicated worker.  But she was dreadfully misinformed and the source of the misinformation is the point of this blog.

My point is that her boss created angst and confusion in his organization by making an announcement with no explanation and no context.  HE knows his strategy, HE knows how he wants to measure performance on it, HE created a balanced scorecard to do so (without teaching anyone what that means), and HE announced it to the world and then said “YOU are responsible!”  

Don’t be that guy.  

Many bosses / executives / leaders are really smart.  They have a well-thought out strategy in their heads and they can make the leap from planning to execution…in their head.  But they are better at internal conversation (in their own head) than they are at communicating with others.   If this sounds familiar, let us help you bridge the gap between what you say and what your employees hear.  
I’ve written another blog about this topic (
Are Strategic Leaps of Logic Leaving You Dazed and Confused?), because this problem comes up over and over again.  

Please contact us and let us help. 

Or to learn more about how to translate your strategy into something that is clear to communicate in a way that employees can understand and effectively contribute to, we invite you to explor
e The Institute Way:  Simplify Strategic Planning & Management with the Balanced Scorecard.
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