Balanced Scorecard . . . MBO in Sheep’s Clothing

Friday, February 27, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
A well-known bank management consulting organization for small to mid-sized banks advocates the use of the balance scorecard.  I have never found the balanced scorecard to be anything other than Management by Objectives in sheep’s clothing.  It looks innocent enough, sounds new and is expensive to implement, but still contains the old command and control measures (and targets) separated into 4 perspectives (or more appropriately the four perspectives of the apocalypse).  The same old measures born from scientific management theory are used, which of course make the command and control thinkers happy.  Which means more bureaucracy, more waste and more sub-optimization.

My partners in the UK (Vanguard and more specifically John Seddon) outline a better way for systems thinkers to establish measures based on 3 principles in his book Freedom from Command and Control:

"Principle 1:  The test of a good measure is: does this help in the understanding and improving of performance?"
–  Targets are arbitrary numerical goals (W. Edwards Deming); capability measures (Seddon) are derived from the work, increase order and allow workers to apply ingenuity in achieving them.

"Principle 2:  Measures must relate to purpose"
– And the purpose of service organizations is to serve customers.  So what matters from a customer perspective?  Timeliness, accuracy, reliability, etc.

"Principle 3:  Measures must be integrated with the work"
– The people doing the work are best equipped to improve the work, so put these measures in their hands and you will be shocked how much your business and their work-life (your culture) will improve.

Organizational change management must include measures based on these 3 principles to attain business improvement and cost reductions.

Comments for Balanced Scorecard . . . MBO in Sheep’s Clothing

Saturday, February 28, 2009 by Joe Hendricks:
"The people doing the work are best equipped to improve the work" So true ! – Joe

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