We have observed a number of companies that, in fighting the recession, have diverted their attention from employee and other operational matters. This forces them to become creative around how they execute their overall business strategy. Now, there is no point in returning to the “old”, but fuzziness may have crept into the decision-making process.

According to a recent research report, 20% of high potential employees are choosing to leave their current positions for other opportunities despite the uncertain economy (source: “Many High Potentials Leave Despite Recession”, Chief Learning Officer, Aug. 18, 2009). External data also shows that turnover typically spikes after a recession, and even though there are some signs of improvement in our market, high-potential employees aren’t afraid to jump ship. We believe that many of these people have lost faith in the plan.

As a result, we recommend revisiting current business strategies and its component parts to ensure that they’re reflective of the new marketplace. One of the tools that can be economically applied is a balanced scorecard process.

The balanced scorecard is a strategic planning and management system that is widely applicable to organizations regardless of size or type of business. It provides a method of aligning business activities to the vision and strategy of an organization, improving internal and external communications and monitoring performance against strategic goals.

Because the balanced scorecard is a generic term, it means different things to different people and, in practice, there are wide variations in both its understanding and implementation. To some, the balanced scorecard is a simple console of performance measures, while to others it is a comprehensive planning and management system covering the whole organization and designed to focus efforts on its strategy and, more importantly, on performance and results. The range of answers is correct because the rigor or the analysis is a function of what the company wants to find out.

 There are several major challenges to developing and sustaining a balanced scorecard. They include:

• Engaging leadership

• Maintaining momentum

• Measuring what matters

• Not just using a disciplined framework to build the system

• Mistakenly thinking a scorecard system is a short-term project (it’s not; it’s a journey)

• Not involving a cross-section of the organization in developing the answers

• Not thinking strategically enough

• Not incentivizing desired behaviour changes

Some people ask whether the balanced scorecard is just the latest management fad that will soon pass away. Our belief is that the “buzz word” may change, but not the underlying concepts (thinking strategically, measuring performance and evaluating result and feedback), which are here to stay for a long time. These are fundamental management concepts that have been around a long time and will remain. So managers who learn the methods of the balanced scorecard will be in a better position to lead in the future. They will have the right skills to think, plan and assess the success of their organizations. These skills will be valuable for the foreseeable future.

There are up to nine steps that we can use to help clients create a balanced scorecard. They include:

• Organizational assessment

• Strategy development

• Strategic objectives

• Strategy mapping

• Performance measures and targets

• Strategic initiatives

• Automation

• Cascading the results throughout the organization

• Evaluation

When we meet with a client, our approach involves three guiding principles:

• “The answer is in the room”, which means that within your company, you will find that your peers have great knowledge and general ideas of what you want to see happen but need someone to help you coax out the direction (which is us).

• The best path is through building community, learning and sharing knowledge. Legislation of ideas will not create compliance.

• The client must be self-sufficient when our work is done. You need to own the plan; we’re around for a short time to help you through the process.

 If you are interested in finding out how we might be able to save some of your key employees, or turning the recession into a marketing advantage, give us a call.

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