The Scorecard Solution: A book review by Bob Morris

Scorecard SolutionThe Scorecard Solution: Measure What Matters and Drive Sustainable Growth
Dan E. King
AMACOM (2015)

How and why the Organizational Prowess Scorecard produces data that will reveal what to act on and how to prioritize actions

Just about everything I know about the balanced scorecard was learned from two “classics” co-authored by Robert Kaplan and David Norton: The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action (1996) and The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment (2000. However, there have been several other excellent books published in recent years, including Dan E. King’s The Scorecard Solution. The book’s subtitle correctly refers to two separate but interdependent initiatives that are imperative to a company’s success, indeed survival. Otherwise, its leaders would fail to measure whatever is of greatest importance and/or have the information needed to achieve sustainable growth.

I agree with King: “Organizations are complex communities. A CEO can’t know everything. Without a robust measurement tool, a culture of candor, a business dashboard, and frequent strategy reviews, performances can slip and corrective action comes too late. Also, in order to sustain grow and recover quickly from down turns, there must be perpetual appetite for top talent as well as an execution framework that delivers important milestones within acceptable time frames.”

Without these critical capabilities, decision-makers in any organization — whatever its size may be — will resemble those who are trying to fly a Boeing 787 or an Airbus A 380 without having any visibility, any instrumentation (compass as well as fuel, speed, height, and air pressure gauges), or any means of communication with the world outside. Imagine that you have been seated behind the steering wheel of a vehicle and then blindfolded. You have everything pilots lack except sight. What you need to know, what you need to complete your journey, is readily available but you cannot see it the dashboard or through the windows. What you and the pilots need includes (a) correct and sufficient knowledge of what to, (b) the ability to use that knowledge effectively, and (c) sufficient resources (people, time, funds, etc.) needed to reach the given destination.

According to King, “The Organizational Process Scorecard serves two very significant purposes. First, it provides a numerical score that serves as a baseline. Learning this score is a call to action for the leadership team.” In this context, I highly recommend Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, and, Gary Hamel’s What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation. Kawasaki and Hamel provide in these volumes a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that set the platinum standard for the art and science of “gut check.”

King continues, “The second significant output of the scorecard delivers is clarity regarding areas of the business that you need to address and strengthen. This is the rifle-shot approach [rather than the carpet bombing approach] — precise and efficient. While few leaders are reluctant to invest in their business, the challenge is deciding where to place the bets.” In this context, I am reminded of two other volumes: Jeremy Hope and Steve Player’s Beyond Performance Management: Why, When, and How to Use 40 Tools and Best Practices for Superior Business Performance, and, Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson. These two volumes provide just about everything a management team needs to know about create a workplace culture within which to derive maximum benefit from The Organizational Process Scorecard.

o Leveraging Data (Pages 11-14)
o Plan the Future (21-28)
o Understanding Leading Indicators (29-31)
o The Elements of the Scorecard (39-48)
o Scorecard Component Details (51-58)
o The Data Behind the Numerical Scoring of Strategy Execution (61-66)
o Strategy Planning + Execution Framework = Success (68-81)
o The Offsite Work Session (90-103)
o Guiding Principles of Execution (107-122)
o What Is an “A” Player Anyway? (128-137)
o Make Talent Management a Business Priority (137-145)
o Attracting the Best (151-155)
o Seek Out Internal Threats (164-167)
o Leveraging the Scorecard to Sustain Growth (175-190)
o Fortifying the Senior Team (195-199)
o Execution Framework (207-212)
o Culture Affects Performance (214-216)
o Defining a High-Performance Culture (218-222)
o Sustaining a High-Performance Cultural Prowess Scorecard (235-238)
o Apply the Scorecard to Business (238-240)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the scope and depth of invaluable material that Dan E. King provides in The Scorecard Solution. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. Leaders in all organizations need both a scorecard and a playbook to achieve and then sustain superior performance. In my opinion, none are better than those he offers, accompanied by a complete operations manual.

I conclude with two hopes: That this book proves to be as valuable to you and your colleagues as I think it can be. Also, that you and your colleagues read it and then take appropriate action before your competition does.

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