Why Simple Strategic Measures Work

Simple Balanced Scorecard Measures

Over the past few weeks, I have been working with a client to help them identify the strategic measures they will use to track their progress in implementing their enterprise-level Balanced Scorecard (BSC) objectives.  This is always the most difficult part of developing a BSC, in my opinion.

There were a few strategic objectives for which they were really having trouble identifying the right measures.  The first concerned ensuring they had a good analytics capability, the second dealt with ingraining a culture of strategy, and the third focused on making sure they deepened their understanding of their potential customers.

Merely Counting Projects in a Particular Area Can Be Effective

After struggling to find the “perfect” measures for each of these objectives, we began to backtrack a little and simplify our approach to the measures.  We ended up settling on pretty simple measures for each of these objectives:  We decided we would count the number of analytics initiatives, the number of strategic projects completed, and the number of initiatives focusing on increasing our knowledge of potential customers.

At first glance, these measures seem really simple – almost too simple and, therefore, maybe not good enough – can merely counting be a good measure?  However, after we discussed how we would collect and report the information, we began to realize how truly effective they could be, especially for an organization just embarking on an effort to rigorously execute and manage its strategy.

Potential to Reduce Redundancies across the Organization

For example, regarding the analytics initiatives, people started to realize that if business units across the organization began to inventory these initiatives so that they became visible to the whole enterprise, there is potential to reduce redundant projects as well as share tools that individual business units were unaware of.

With regard to the initiatives focusing on increasing knowledge of potential customers, the team again saw the potential of sharing the results of the projects, whether they were turned into learning modules or other tools.  In addition, it led to a strategic discussion on whether the organization needs a knowledge management tool (answer: yes) to help break down siloes and share knowledge across the enterprise.

In short, people began to see the potential strategic initiatives that would flow from gathering and analyzing the data from these simple measures.