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Environmental Perspective

October 19, 2009

It is time to consider a new Balanced Scorecard perspective.  The new perspective is focused on clean energy and the carbon footprint of a company.  The new perspective can be titled with any number of names including carbon footprint, green energy, or the environmental perspective.  As the green movement evolves, the reality of a world with limited resources presents an opportunity to create a perspective dedicated to this challenge. Organizations are being required by federal and local law or mandated to change the way business handles environmental concerns. 

 

Business can no longer operate in a vacuum concerning the overall impact on the environment. We are no longer Sampson facing Goliath as individuals facing environmental concerns.  We must work in concert with each other as a society to save resources and use energy in a manner that conserves.  Each business needs to operate being mindful of the environment much as Noah did when he saved the animals.  We are bound by decisions that have consequences across society.  Companies need to act in concert and measure progress in order to maximize and support public policy around environmental impact.  A focused through an environmental perspective would help to measure the actions of organizations.

 

A Balanced Scorecard environmental perspective would highlight the importance of these issues on business operations.  By monitoring, everything from carbon footprint to paper recycling, organizations have a vehicle to communicate environmental issues through the holistic manner of the Balanced Scorecard.  When incorporated into the Balanced Scorecard the perspective becomes a high-level visible measurement of the importance of the environment to the organization.   The news is full of stories about environmental change and organizations that help prevent negative change from affecting our world.  If this were measured at a company level, each business could include a discussion focused on the environmental impact of business decision.

 

Encouraging organizations to incorporate an aggressive and progressive response to environmental issues will become evident with an environmental perspective.  I would challenge Balanced Scorecard practitioners to focus more closely on the impact, of environmental concerns and business operations.  The Balanced Scorecard is an excellent management tool to manage environmental responsibility.

Job Search Using Improvement Techniques

June 19, 2009

The resume’ enters the black hole called the Internet. It disappears into the bowels of an unknown entity within cyberspace of corporate America. Add a cover letter, little change is observed as the effort vanishes leaving no sign of a successful arrival on the hiring managers desks. Not even a peep is heard from the “consumer” that requires the information.

To count what has been submitted by job seekers is a simple matter of tracking email messages. It is more difficult to determine if the quality of presentation even catches the eye of the intended recipient.

My resolve is to determine the effectiveness of my personal job marketing campaign. What techniques can be used to measure the activity created during my job search? The premise; if one measures the change in activity opportunities open to take action.

Similar to improvement methodologies measuring change during the job search will provide indicators of success. When it is possible to determine change in activity an evaluation will become the basis for a success strategy. Counting the number of job applications submitted is a “feel good” latent measure that only establishes effort put forth but does not determine the quality of that effort. Leading indicators are the result of monitoring the changes seen in response to interest in ones job submissions.

A few tricks to measure changes in job search activity:

  • Web properties– During the job search encourage hiring manages to visit your profile on LinkedIn, personal web site, and blog.
  • LinkedIn– Profile “attractivity” can be measured by monitoring “Who’s viewed my profile?” on the home page. This information is updated on a daily basis. It is a very powerful way to measure change. The report indicates how often a profile has been viewed and how many times your name appears in searches. In addition LinkedIn provides clues to who viewed the profile.
  • Web Site– Establish a personal “professional” web site as an opportunity to expand upon background information. The web site can be monitored with tools including Google analytics. Reports from the monitoring tools provide information about visitors to the site. These reprots can be used to trace site visitors.
  • Blog– Monitor blog visits. Similar to the web site the log reports on visits. Like web analytics, clarity of visits will help provide an understanding about those seeking to learn about you.

The consolidation of information is a picture of those that have taken the opportunity to learn more about your background.

What does this mean?

The job search now can include tools that allow for a proactive monitoring activity around web properties. The ability to monitor leaves a trail of activityinformation. Studying this activity becomes a tool to adjust job search effort and take proactive action.

If change is measured than performance can be improved. Through a simple set of tools it is possible to monitor and take proactive action during the job search.

Convergence:

May 17, 2009

Convergence is the approach over time toward equilibrium which often is resolved through approximation of solutions. Most often it is an estimate based on a theoretical fixed value. In business, convergence is obtained by approaching solutions through collaborative efforts with the removal of barriers that hamper the flow of ideas.

Convergence is necessary to move new ideas or innovation from conceptual to execution stage. Organizational leadership needs to have the capacity and willingness to adapt change. Execution of innovation is never a straight path. Leaders that are the fulcrum of convergence understand the importance of collaborative efforts. These change agents need to be both promoter and defender. They must find a path that creates common ground that is horizontal across the organization.

Successful convergence includes:

Building relationship: Take the time to forge relationships. The collective strength of a team lends the strength of the collective knowledge of many. Group think is powerful and result oriented.

Building trust: One of the most challenging aspects of business. The foundation of trust is relationships. Strong relationships are the cornerstone for trust.

Developing a common vocabulary: Build a formalized vocabulary that defines common terms and concepts. Parties involved will understand what the meanings and expectations are for acronyms, special vocabulary, and expectations. Clarity of communications reduces ambiguity.

Convergence requires a “go with the flow” outlook. Never a straight path is found to the intended goal. Improvisation is to think on ones feet a necessity to arrive at common places in convergence.

Organizational growth includes adaptation to new ideas and concepts. The convergence of ideas within an existing infrastructure is organization evolution. Bring ideas together to a workable result does necessitate strong relationships built on trust. The convergence of ideas and concepts in an atmosphere of success will result in outcomes were reasonable people will make reasonable decisions.

Traffic Lights – What Do They Mean?

May 5, 2009

Traffic LightThe use of “traffic lights” is prevalent in communicating status of scorecard information. A quick reference, colors are used to provide current statues of projects, initiatives, and goals set by an organization. They are easily discernable and quickly communicate information. Most used colors on scorecards are red, yellow, and green. Colors are further clarified through accompanying action plans necessary to change red and yellow to green.

Using the traffic light concept is a straightforward way to communicate status of projects. This is especially true of green, which most often is interpreted as reaching success, similar to receiving an ‘A’ on a report card. Green represents a positive result and the color to strive for and achieve. Green with envy is the place that reds find themselves at times.

Red is used to indicate that a goal is not achieved. It is most closely associated with failure or a negative mark even if documentation notes otherwise. Red is often an indicator of an incomplete task or a missed deadline. Red is a visceral color in business not imbuing confidence.

Yellow is the most confusing of all colors. It often means that expected goals have not reached, reclassified as a work in process. Action plans are required to describe how yellow will be changed to green. Yellow is often interpreted as positive since it is not red. It can also indicate the lack of a serious discussion about the project or avoidance of a status change to red.

What would it be like to have only two lights; red and green?

Either the goal is reached or it is incomplete. This would improve clarity while removing the ambiguity of yellow. Complete or incomplete, provide a status that states that only green is complete and red incomplete. Scorecards would provide clarity of true success and completion. Being a little pregnant would no longer be an option.

Clarity in the world of scorecard is critical, a quick indicator of status that is shared with many different levels in an organization. It is important to face the challenges head on addressing incomplete work rather than the egg shell dance of yellow. Organizational culture would require managing the egos of red. Status would be required for all red just like yellows and reds of traditional scorecards.

Green would become the new black in business.

Strategy Map Challenge

April 8, 2009
BSC Survey

BSC Survey

Small to midsized organizations that embrace the Balanced Scorecard are often challenged moving the strategy map beyond midlevel management. Why does this happen?

Balanced Scorecard strategy map is an effective and efficient way to align aspirations, culture, and collective expectations of an organization. The strategy map communicates the essence of an organization in terms that are easy to communicate.

The strategy map is incorporated as a requirement to implement Balanced Scorecard. This can be a challenge to some small and midsized organization. Three factors to consider when implementing in these organizations:

Scorecard versus Balanced Scorecard: These terms are not interchangeable and are often confused. A scorecard is used to measure discrete events. The Balanced Scorecard measures the health of an organization. Measurements are based on each perspective as presented through the strategy map. An artist eye would see Balanced Scorecard perspectives as a picture of results in terms of agreed upon objectives. Balanced Scorecard provides transparency by cascading information resulting in clarity of the current state of the business.

You only know what you know: Experience develops competency for continuous process improvement. Lack of Balanced Scorecard experience challenges the rollout of the strategy map. A holistic approach to business requires management to embrace the strategy map as a collaborative roadmap, decreasing the role of authoritative management. Koom-by-ya is not necessary but organizational engagement is critical to the acceptance of the strategy map. Understanding comes from training, engagement, and practice; the more practice the better understanding to guide the organization within the strategy map framework.

Cascade of transparency: “First you have to recognize you have a problem.” It is important to reflect and determine if information is being shared as part of a systematic flow or provided as an individual request. When data is provided as a request it is not part of a transparent flow. The concept of cascading is the weaving of information flow from top to bottom and back again. A short circuit of the flow turns off lights that otherwise illuminate strengths and challenges. Knowledge that rests at each level of the organization determines the types of measurements necessary to attain the objectives of the strategy map. Each cascading level pools value necessary to support those measures directly above and the foundation for those below. The strategy map provides the foundation for transparency.

Strategy map is a communication tool that aligns the organization with a single view of the organization’s direction. Fully executed, an organization has informed employees who are engaged in a common set of goals reflected in a culture of inclusion.

Cascading Performance Measures

April 5, 2009
BSC Survey

BSC Survey

Cascade Performance Measures

Balanced scorecard strategy map displays the organizations comprehensive view of the strategic framework. This framework describes in easy to understand terms the strategy focus of a balanced scorecard organization. Measures used to analyze objectives directly are defined based on the strategy map. The success of a strategy map is the execution of cascading roles, responsibilities, and planning that supports each objective.

The balanced scorecard is successfully executed when the organization effectively is able to cascade objective measurements. When measurements are incongruity, the effectiveness of cascading diminishes. Measurements must be relevant and clearly identifiable. What might be considered “white noise”, measurement without meaning, creates confusion. The relevance of measurement provides clarity to support the notion of cause-and-effect within and between objectives.

Cascading balanced scorecard objectives through the organization provides organizational alignment. Like a waterfall, cascading centers on the concept of a connected series of objectives. The associated measurements carry results up to executive management as cumulative performance measurement. Cascading provides an explicit link from one operational level to another or linking at the peer level. There is congruency in this type of environment.

The cascading scorecard identifies and maps out the cause-and-effect relationships that exists between higher and lower level strategic objectives. At the lowest common denominator, it links every employee’s performance to the top level of the organization based on the organizational strategic objectives as described on the strategy map. Cascading provides powerful insight into business performance. The linkage between top-level outcomes and the underlying root cause can be analyzed through multidimensional drill downs found in the detail of the strategy map.

Simplified reporting increases the understanding of balanced scorecard. It will also lower the level of risk associated with balanced scorecard adoption. Cascading provides the means to share measurements at different levels of the organization and study cause-and-effect relationships. The top tier of the organization sets the goals and objectives to be used to measure success. Each tier below measures based on that tiers objectives. The knowledge at each tier determines the functions and requirements to measure the objectives set by the strategy map. Tier knowledge creates the relevant objective measurements.

Each tier level may measure objectives differently. A tier above or below may define a perspective uniquely. In a manufacturing environment, the shift supervisor may measure customer satisfaction through production line availability. The plant manager may look at customer satisfaction through returns and rejects or even schedule adherence. Other factors that may be considered include number of calls received by the service desk, customer retention, and on-line delivery. The most important point is that when measurements are cascading they are congruent to the strategy map.

To drive balanced scorecard results the strategy map is built on a multilevel framework linking and aligning balanced scorecard objectives. The process known as cascading involves the flow of strategy through the organization hierarchy allowing connecting levels to analyze the relationship of objectives.