Strategy Facilitation

On the whole most companies and organisations, including government, will consider ‘strategy’ to be something that is done internally (we know best) and by a few good people (we know best!).  It is true to say that people within an organisation will be the experts on the products or services that they take to market or provide for citizens. However, what they have missed is, like any other activity, strategy is a process.

Most strategies fail, this is well known. What is less well known is that it is not usually the strategy itself that fails, but the implementation. The strategy, as created by the strategist, more often than not is perfectly sound. The problem comes when the ‘strategy’ is handed over to ‘other’ people to implement.

And therein is the first and biggest problem.  The ‘other’ people have been brought into the strategic process late and have no sense of ownership and certainly have no process to follow that will allow them to implement the strategy successfully.

Strategy facilitation will help to resolve this and many other problems. A good strategic facilitator will come armed with a strategic process that can be used as the vehicle to ensure buy-in to the strategy at all levels.  The process they use might be something like the Balanced Scorecard methodology, a tried and tested process for strategic design, implementation and retirement.

Balanced Scorecard Training

Balanced Scorecard Survey Results

Intrafocus in collaboration with 2GC Active Management has released its 2014 Balanced Scorecard Survey results. The questionnaire has revealed that strategy management remains the most common use of the Balanced Scorecard with 64% participants answering favorably to the question.

Nevertheless, more organisations than ever make use of Balanced Scorecard to support operational activities. The survey suggests that in the future nearly half of organisations are going to be using a Balanced Scorecard to help in Quality Management. This is a large increase compared to prior years.

The questionnaire also investigated the effect of performance management within organisations. It discovered that using Balanced Scorecards can affect an organisation’s management culture. Greater than 80% of respondents declared that their employees actions and behaviours were strongly impacted by the scorecard; however this was tempered by up to 50% of those also reporting that they experienced no penalties for missing targets.

The overall satisfaction rating for a Balanced Scorecard is high with 73% of respondents reporting that their Balanced Scorecard was either ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ useful to their organisation. This is an increase from 63% in 2013.

This year the respondents could comment on their answers, a selection is below:

  • “In its first year it has improved management alignment and focus on key issues”;
  • “Balanced Scorecard drives performance to achieve a shared vision”;
  • “We have only been using it for a little over a year… the value has been increasing as we capture more measures and help departments develop their lead measures… once you have some champions on board it builds its own momentum”.

The full report is available free of charge on the Intrafocus website. Intrafocus is also offering Balanced Scorecard Training in London from March 16th to 20th. This is a Balanced Scorecard Professional (BSP) course underwritten through the Balanced Scorecard Institute and validated through the George Washington University.

Balanced Scorecard Training

Balanced Scorecard Training

Greater than 50% of large companies on the planet make use of the Balanced Scorecard as a business performance management tool. A sizable percentage (number unknown) of smaller companies use it too. The businesses which use the Balanced Scorecard effectively are usually ‘strategically focused’. That’s, they will use it to translate business strategy into business objectives which have connected performance measures and initiatives. They are supervised regularly. In addition, these objectives, measures and initiatives are cascaded lower and over the organisation making highly relevant to divisions, departments and people.

This, obviously, is easier in theory. It’s one factor to know the Balanced Scorecard in principle, it’s entirely another to know it used. Within their book ‘The Institute Way’ Howard Rohm et all acknowledge that “The Balanced Scorecard isn’t complicated, but it’s not easy either” and why if it is easy? Business performance management for just about any company big or small is generally based on areas which are unique for their business. They’ll be sailing in unchartered waters. Clearly you will see some areas which are present with all companies, but these aren’t areas which will make the business to develop. The development areas, or proper areas, would be the unique selling points (USPs), the brand new items and services, the brand new methods for coping with and controlling clients. All this blog must be handled inside a structured means by exactly the same way the daily operation from the clients are handled inside a structured way.

It’s here the Balanced Scorecard makes its very own. It’s a proper management tool that gives the framework to handle the development of the business or organisation. It may, and really should, be linked into operational management, but it’s different factor.

Lacking the knowledge of this distinction can result in a unsuccessful implementation. Among the prime reasons frequently reported to fail is ‘lack of buy-in’ from both management and professionals. Why what is the insufficient buy-in? On close examination it appears in the future from deficiencies in knowledge of the way the Balanced Scorecard methodology really works. As mentioned above, the topic isn’t complicated, but it’s not easy either. To know the methodology, training is needed. In most other parts of business in which a new methodology or practice is introduced training plans are set up. For instance, in project management software, when the Prince2™ methodology is adopted, then foundation courses right through to advanced specialist courses and certifications are for sale to both management and professionals. Any organization using Prince2™ wouldn’t think hard about delivering their staff on courses being qualified.

Running a business performance management there’s frequently another way of thinking. It has a tendency to run like “our clients are various and so our management techniques are very different, we train with this during-the-job” or even worse “management practice isn’t difficult, there exists a good library of books available”. The Balanced Scorecard methodology can’t be learnt per day. It may be learnt from the book, only by those who are proficient at learning things from the book (you will find very few people such as this). Just like any subject that’s “not that easy” formal training is definitely the very best answer. To obtain the most from any Balanced Scorecard implementation add training towards the energy production. With skilled managers and professionals the likelihood of success are increased ten-fold.

Intrafocus runs Balanced Scorecard Training courses in London, England each year, the program is underwritten through the Balanced Scorecard Institute and certification supplied by the George Washington College.

Balanced Scorecard

5 Reasons to Use Balanced Scorecard Software

Companies usually review progress through monthly reporting. Inside a typical monthly report is a group of slides and/or excel spreadsheets that purport to contain all the information needed to make decisions in following month(s). These reviews will more often than not include ‘scorecards’ for a number of business activities and frequently include some Key Performance Indications (KPIs) for that business. Based on research, under 25% of companies use dedicated managemetn systems or perhaps an enterprise management system to handle their scorecards and KPIs. The rest use excel spreadsheets, presentations and free-form documents (see Business Scorecard Survey 2013).

The number of firms that have automated their scorecards continues to grow. They’ve seen the benefits that may be acquired through dedicated software and how it can centralise data and distribute activities. Five good reasons to automate business scorecards are:

1. The single source of truth – Among the large benefits of excel spreadsheets is the opportunity to make changes rapidly and generate charts and graphs that report progress. The down-side to this is actually the capability to disguise the reality because everybody has their very own spreadsheet and everybody can interpret their data by any means they choose. By centralising the information in one system and supplying use of charts and graphs which have been pre-referred to, there’s just one supply of truth that can’t be misunderstood or disguised.

2. Best industry practice – Why reinvent the wheel? Designers of automation software haven’t been your vacuum. They’ve cheated decades of expertise and converted it into system and methods which have established track records and work. All companies consider themselves unique, this may be true, but you will find some things, and management confirming is one, that ought to follow best industry practice.

3. Responsibility and accountability – KPI Management systems will pressure a cultural change upon a company. A principal purpose of good product is to allow visibility of not just KPIs (and objectives) but additionally of KPI (and objective) possession. Whereas previously possession might not have been visible, with an open automation system it might be highly visible. This might appear daunting in early stages, however the advantages soon become very obvious. For instance, it is really an enabler for any ‘helping’ atmosphere instead of producing a ‘blame’ culture.

4. Alignment to strategy – Even though the primary subject here’s KPI management, a great software automation system will pressure customers to consider business objectives. Indeed, any reasonable system will question why a KPI is available if there’s no connected objective. Objectives depends on the organization strategy thus supplying alignment. Again, this could be made highly visible by using products for example Strategy Maps.

5. Standardisation – utilizing a single devoted system will pressure standardisation. Getting information inside a standard format using industry standard terminology offers the way to benchmark both inwardly and outwardly.

Automating KPI Management will unquestionably provide considerable business benefit. What exactly is preventing the charge? You will find two significant reasons the very first is a cultural change is needed. Automation software is commonly open and highly visible many managers are uncomfortable with this particular degree of transparency. The second reason is simply getting began. For that companies which have been controlling through metrics, they need to start considering controlling through objectives.

For more infromation on a practical resolution, check the Balanced Scorecard Software packages from Intrafocus

Balanced Scorecard, Strategy

Less Focus Brings about Success

We are all aware of the mantra ‘you must eat, sleep and breathe your work to succeed’. Certainly there are many cases of people who have been so focused they’ve succeeded. However, often we find that being too focused or just being too close to a strategy often means we overlook an overall objective. We may achieve the original plan, but fail because the plan was flawed from the outset, too small, too big or no longer relevant.

There is a need to temper our desire to ‘work harder’ and ‘focus’. Thought processes have a tendency to work better once we step back and consider not only related issues but free our minds to let unrelated subject matter to play its part.

Research by Glick and Holyoak, Analogical Problem Solving, in 1980 illustrates this perfectly. Although old, the outcomes of the study are still clear and obvious today. Glick and Holyoak asked a group of subjects to consider the following problem and suggest a solution:

Suppose you are a doctor faced with a patient who has a malignant tumour in his stomach. It is impossible to operate on the patient, but unless the tumour is destroyed the patient will die. There is a kind of ray that can be used to destroy the tumour. If the rays reach the tumour all at once at a sufficiently high intensity, the tumour will be destroyed. Unfortunately, at this intensity the healthy tissue that the rays pass through on the way to the tumour will also be destroyed. At lower intensities the rays are harmless to healthy tissue, but they will not affect the tumour either. What type of procedure might be used to destroy the tumour with the rays, and at the same time avoid destroying the healthy tissue?

This experiment resulted in 3% of the subjects to be able to provide a successful solution. A different group were instructed to solve the same problem, however in advance these were supplied with the following passage:

A general wishes to capture a fortress located in the centre of a country. There are many roads radiating outward from the fortress. All have been mined so that while small groups of men can pass over the roads safely, any large force will detonate the mines. A full-scale direct attack is therefore impossible. The general’s solution is to divide his army into small groups, send each group to the head of a different road, and have the groups converge simultaneously on the fortress.

Several of you reading this may have reached an answer to the initial problem once you had read the first sentence. A lot more once you reached the end of the passage. The fact is, Glick and Holyoak discovered that 67% of the subjects had the ability to find a solution to the problem when they received this passage to read through first.

For individuals who are still wondering, the answer is as follows:

The analogous solution to the radiation problem is to simultaneously direct multiple low-intensity rays toward the tumour from different directions. In this way the healthy tissue will be left unharmed, but the effects of the multiple low-intensity rays will summate and destroy the tumour.

The use of analogies to resolve problems is called ‘conceptual blending’. This theory is put forward by Fauconnier and Turner in their book:  The way we think: Conceptual blending and the mind’s hidden complexities. They conclude that elements and vital relations from diverse scenarios are “blended” in a subconscious process, which can be assumed to be ubiquitous to everyday thought and language.

Exactly what does all of this theory mean for us? Simply that less focus can lead to greater success. If you take a step back or by participating in an unrelated activity, we give the brain the scenarios and ability to subconsciously draw on our experiences and blend them. The blending activity then increases our capacity to solve problems and think creatively.

This and many other ‘tricks-of-the-trade’ are included in Intrafocus Balanced Scorecard Training.


Strategic Planning

Successful strategic planning does not happen by chance.  Like any other activity in organisations, large or small, success comes from a disciplined approach. Strategic planning is often the ‘poor relation’ when it comes to properly defined business processes.  It is frequently only considered once a year and then undertaken as an ad-hoc off-site activity with minimum preparation and inflated expectations of the ‘implementation’ on return to the workplace.

The key benefit of using a disciplined approach is that it gives organisations a way to align strategic planning and management implementation.  It creates a visible connection between the projects and programs that people are working on, the measurements being used to track success, the strategic objectives the organization is trying to accomplish and the mission, vision and strategy of the organization. One of the most well known and fully developed frameworks used to ensure successful strategic planning is the Balanced Scorecard.

Contrary to popular belief, the Balanced Scorecard, when used correctly, is not just a scorecard methodology.  The Balanced Scorecard is an organisational framework for implementing and managing strategy at all levels of an enterprise by linking objectives, measures, and initiatives to an organisation’s strategy.

One of the most prevalent frameworks utilised across both the commercial and government sectors is The Balanced Scorecard Institute’s Nine Steps to SuccessTM.  Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at each step in turn, in summary, the nine steps are:

Step One: Assessment

Step One of the scorecard building process starts with an assessment of the organization’s Mission and Vision, challenges (pains), enablers, and values. Step One also includes preparing a change management plan for the organization, and conducting a focused communications workshop to identify key messages, media outlets, timing, and messengers.

Step Two: Strategy

In Step Two, elements of the organization’s strategy, including Strategic Results, Strategic Themes, and Perspectives, are developed by workshop participants to focus attention on customer needs and the organization’s value proposition.

Step Three: Objectives

In Step Three, the strategic elements developed in Steps One and Two are decomposed into Strategic Objectives, which are the basic building blocks of strategy and define the organization’s strategic intent. Objectives are first initiated and categorized on the Strategic Theme level, categorized by Perspective, linked in cause-effect linkages (Strategy Maps) for each Strategic Theme, and then later merged together to produce one set of Strategic Objectives for the entire organization.

Step Four: Strategy Map

In Step Four, the cause and effect linkages between the enterprise-wide Strategic Objectives are formalized in an enterprise-wide Strategy Map. The previously constructed theme Strategy Maps are merged into an overall enterprise-wide Strategy Map that shows how the organization creates value for its customers and stakeholders.

Step Five: Performance Measures

In Step Five, Performance Measures are developed for each of the enterprise-wide Strategic Objectives. Leading and lagging measures are identified, expected targets and thresholds are established, and baseline and benchmarking data is developed.

Step Six: Initiatives

In Step Six, Strategic Initiatives are developed that support the Strategic Objectives. To build accountability throughout the organization, ownership of Performance Measures and Strategic Initiatives is assigned to the appropriate staff and documented in data definition tables.

Step Seven: Performance Analysis

In Step Seven, the implementation process begins by applying performance measurement software to get the right performance information to the right people at the right time. Automation adds structure and discipline to implementing the Balanced Scorecard system, helps transform disparate corporate data into information and knowledge, and helps communicate performance information. In short, automation helps people make better decisions because it offers quick access to actual performance data.

Step Eight: Alignment

In Step Eight, the enterprise-level scorecard is ‘cascaded’ down into business and support unit scorecards, meaning the organizational level scorecard (the first Tier) is translated into business unit or support unit scorecards (the second Tier) and then later to team and individual scorecards (the third Tier). Cascading translates high-level strategy into lower-level objectives, measures, and operational details. Cascading is the key to organization alignment around strategy. Team and individual scorecards link day-to-day work with department goals and corporate vision. Cascading is the key to organization alignment around strategy. Performance measures are developed for all objectives at all organization levels. As the scorecard management system is cascaded down through the organization, objectives become more operational and tactical, as do the performance measures. Accountability follows the objectives and measures, as ownership is defined at each level. An emphasis on results and the strategies needed to produce results is communicated throughout the organization.

Step Nine: Evaluation

In Step Nine, an Evaluation of the completed scorecard is done. During this evaluation, the organization tries to answer questions such as, ‘Are our strategies working?’, ‘Are we measuring the right things?’, ‘Has our environment changed?’ and ‘Are we budgeting our money strategically?’