Is the BSC a Better Fit for Incremental or Transformational Change?

One question people often have about the Balanced Scorecard is whether it is a better fit for organizations executing incrementally different or transformational strategies.  My answer to this is that the BSC is “change agnostic”—it doesn’t care and doesn’t necessarily work better for incremental vs. transformational strategic change.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way and agree that no matter what strategic framework an organization chooses to use to implement its strategy, it will always be more difficult to implement transformational rather than incremental change.

Implementing the BSC Itself, Is a Transformational Cultural Change

If the new strategy your organization is trying to implement with the BSC is merely an incremental change from your previous strategy, the decision to use the BSC as the framework will probably be a more transformational change than executing the strategy. 

The Balanced Scorecard and Transformational Change

Implementing the BSC requires a true culture change to begin to manage and measure your strategy with the BSC.  The strict accountability and evidence-based decision-making it requires takes time for an organization to adopt.

The BSC Can Help Provide Evidence a Transformational Strategy Is Working

On the other hand, using the Balanced Scorecard to help execute a truly transformational strategy can bring huge benefits to an organization.  The measures and evidence-based decision-making involved in implementing the BSC can help with organizational buy-in.

When an organization attempts to implement a transformational change, it will meet much internal pushback.  However, if it tracks its progress with a framework like the BSC, it has the opportunity to produce evidence and “quick wins” that will demonstrate to staff and stakeholders that the strategy is beginning to have the intended effects.  If communicated often enough and in the right way, this information should increase organizational buy-in to the new strategy.

The Balanced Scorecard is merely a framework to help organizations implement their strategies.  Whether you use it to implement an incremental or transformational strategic change is entirely up to an organization’s leadership team.