“In today’s networked and global world, collaboration across organisational boundaries has become a critical competency for innovation and success. Solving complex problems for customers or for society rarely can be accomplished using capabilities only within a single enterprise, whether an individual company or a government ministry. Co-creating a strategy map and Balanced Scorecard helps to align multiple entities to a holistic, shared vision for success.”
Holonomic Thinking, Harvard Business Review Brasil, April 2014
According to Bain & Company, the Balanced Scorecard methodology is the fifth most used management tool by business executives in the world. It is not just a tool to increase stakeholder value in a business; its uses are far wider than that. The Balanced Scorecard links financial measures to operational measures, and translates organisational strategy into four classical perspectives: the financial perspective, the customer perspective, the internal perspective and the learning and growth perspective. As Robert Kaplan said, the Balanced Scorecard has shifted the focus of businesses from concentrating purely on shareholder value to understanding the need to include the community as well.
David Norton has explained how there has been a shift in our economic models whereby ‘the foundation of the world is now in intangible assets’. The task that we face is to measure intangible assets; therefore, if we shift into a holonomic way of seeing, which is a higher level cognitive function than merely physical sensation (seeing physical objects), then we can start to make progress from mistakenly modelling counterfeit systems to being able to truly comprehend authentic systems.
For David Norton, ‘description is the ground level of the discipline’ and this very much echoes Henri Bortoft’s exemplary philosophical work on the act of distinction and understanding the difference between belonging together and belonging together from a systems thinking perspective.
The Balanced Scorecard methodology links intangible assets, such as people’s knowledge and competencies, to tangible results, that is, financial performance. There is often a pressure on managers and leaders to focus solely on results, but this can lead to a blind spot, that of time. In our Western paradigm a focus on the speed of growth has led us to lose sight of the time that nature requires to respond, transform, and grow. It is one of the great aspects of Balanced Scorecard that it refocuses our thinking back on time, showing that we need time to develop capacity, competencies and to improve processes, before we can improve the results.
For example, the way in which Balanced Scorecard considers time in management systems – long, medium and short term – creates a fundamental link between operations and strategy. The short term is no longer seen as separate from the long term, but now acts in service to the long term.
The description of an organisation’s strategy is contained within a model termed the ‘strategic map’, and as such it represents one of the most important ways in which an organisation develops shared vision and understanding across its divisions and departments.
Balanced Scorecard is not only used by businesses, but also by governments, as in Brazil, and many federal government departments and municipalities, such as the city of Porto Alegre, which is working with the methodology in their preparation for the World Cup in 2014. Another example is the city of Barcelona, which, following the Olympic Games in 1992, used the methodology to address many different strategic issues facing the population. This project became a huge success, helped by a visionary leadership.
In a manner which echoes the philosophy of Satish Kumar and Philip Franses on process and pilgrimage, Kaplan observed that ‘the very act of translating the strategy into a strategic map transforms people’. People become more committed to the strategy and are better able to develop consensus, two key pillars of Balanced Scorecard. As our world becomes ever more networked, companies and organisations are co-creating their strategies with stakeholders, and this is now happening in many countries around the world such as South Korea, Singapore and Chile.
Balanced Scorecard can be seen as an entire management philosophy, but for those who do not have holonomic vision, many aspects can be easily missed when implementing it. While many businesses and organisations still aim just to maximise the performance of separate parts, such as teams, divisions, and profit centres, Balanced Scorecard allows a more nuanced relationship between the parts and the whole. The ‘whole’ in this context is articulated in the strategic map, representing the vision and the purpose of the organisation. Members of the organisation are encouraged not just to maximise their best locally, but to do what is best for the overall strategy, for now they can see the whole.
With this more systemic vision of the whole organisation, resources can be reallocated to any problematic aspect of the organisation which requires the most effort and attention. One of the key activities is the communication of the strategy to all members of the organisation, which can also include wider stakeholders. By bringing people into the process, you are creating meaning for them, and allowing them to understand the relationship between the parts and the whole. The whole is not imposed on them as a ‘super-part’ (counterfeit wholeness); activities enable people to better understand their own contributions. Engagement with people is not just through rational thinking, but through feeling, linking them emotionally with the strategy, thereby motivating them and helping them to develop their own performance.
Performance of the organisation is further enhanced by the strategic map, in that it encourages focus, allowing people to better understand what they can and cannot do. The values of the organisation become aligned with the way of doing things, the culture, such as the way of treating customers and suppliers. Balanced Scorecard is an open system, in that it encompasses all the issues facing an organisation, such as sustainability and community relationships. Every major issue which has an impact on the overall performance can be given the same level of importance as financial matters.
For all of these reasons, Balanced Scorecard can contribute to fostering a collective sense of authentic wholeness in an organisation, when implemented by a conscious leadership from a wider holonomic perspective, with a strong sense of values and purpose.
Extract taken from Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, Simon Robinson and Maria Moraes Robinson (2014)
Maria Moraes Robinson Maria Moraes Robinson is the cofounder of Holonomics Education, helping organisations to think and innovate beyond business-as-usual, and to help companies align their purpose and business strategies with today’s most critical challenges. She is an internationally recognised educator and keynote speaker and consultant in strategy, change management, sustainability, human values and the Balanced Scorecard methodology. As a business consultant based in São Paulo, Brazil, Maria has helped to introduce Robert Kaplan and David Norton’s Balanced Scorecard methodology into Brazil and Latin America across many sectors including telecoms, technology, petrochemicals, steel, energy, transportation and education.
Simon Robinson is the co-founder of Holonomics Education, a strategy and innovation consultancy based in São Paulo whose mission is to help organisations to implement great customer experiences, powerful and effective strategies, and develop purposeful, meaningful and sustainable brands. He is the co-author of Customer Experiences with Soul: A New Era in Design and his research examines how the dynamic conception of wholeness in hermeneutics and phenomenology can deepen our thinking on innovation, customer experience design and the circular economy.