Put it all together

It’s interesting how people think about planning. For many people, it feels similar to a budgeting exercise. It feels like hard work to others. BUSINESS PLANNING. There are certainly components of it that fit that model. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of the impact that our focus as we do planning will have.

When you think about all of the things we now know as it pertains to new schools of thought, cognitive psychology, it’s pretty clear (for a number of reasons) that people move toward the things they think about. Good or bad. You get the corresponding results. We understand the importance of this from a personal perspective. For many, it’s at the state of being obvious. It’s hard to argue with the fact that your life won’t be any larger than you can dream it will be. Whatever you can fathom and see yourself succeeding in, you have the potential to do. Secondly, our momentary focus and inner dialogue impacts our expectations, which strongly drives out behaviors.

I would ask the question… “Why is it that we don’t associate this truth with organizational behavior?” After all, organizations are clusters of… yup, people. Have you painted a picture for your people that is compelling and exciting? It’s hard to align the behaviors of a group of people to a singular focus without that picture. Sure, it’s easier to chalk all this up to being just a bunch of “soft issues.” I’d challenge that as well by saying that the things we often don’t measure have a greater impact on your client experience than you could imagine. Client experience = brand.

If you can get your people thinking and talking about what they are moving toward, they will begin to create positive progression in the organization. Without that, you’ll have pockets of stagnancy where change is strongly resisted. The business impact is that it will be harder to effectively implement major strategies. People don’t support change until the dissatisfaction with how things currently are, the new desired future state and agreement on the first steps to get there outweigh the resistance.

Focus your meetings at all levels of the organization around how you’re progressing toward your desired state and your discussions will be far less tactical and more results oriented. Then, talk about the supporting activities. This small change will yield large returns at a practical level.

Are you really listening to your measures?

To what degree does your organization listen to your measures? They’re there for a reason. So many organizations just go through the motions when it comes to reporting and analyzing the implications of your performance. Phoning it in cripples your ability to fully understand what is happening today and predict what is coming. The balanced scorecard measures are generally chosen to provide information to executive management to support decision making related to our progress against the strategy.

When grouped into themes (metric clusters), measures tell us a lot more than they do as individual indicators. Doing this helps develop a better understanding of why you’re getting the results you are and what forces are most impacting your performance in those areas. This should provide information that can be leveraged for more predictive discussions about where your efforts need to be focused and emerging strategy gaps.

Let’s decompose this a little first. Performance is affected by both internal and external factors, some of which support you and others which oppose. Start by putting measures into themes, and then consider what is working for you and what is working against. Bring this information into the corporate strategy review discussion. From there, you can develop perspectives on what it means and what it suggests in terms of current and emerging strategy gaps.

Example: Employees and Culture

The employee satisfaction and culture cluster is a product of internal conditions, corporate performance, satisfaction, culture, but is also affected by external conditions such as the labor market and the economy. From one year to the next, a consistent turnover number may not indicate stability. In some conditions, it could result from a simultaneous external and internal change of conditions.

For example: Staff satisfaction could drop sharply, leading employees to consider outside employment. However, if the labor market has also tanked, employees may not be able to find new jobs outside the organization. Without analysis, a problem or an opportunity could develop without any mitigating strategies being put in place.

A secondary benefit of this change is that you’ll more fully understand the relevance of your measures. Until you start to really work them, you just never know.