Nine Steps to Success™ – Step 9 Evaluation
Evaluation is the Ninth step of the Balanced Scorecard Institutes framework for strategic planning and management, the Nine Steps to Success™.
One of the key differences between the Balanced Scorecard strategic planning methodology and other methodologies is its dynamic nature. Using the balanced scorecard enables organisations to continuously monitor their strategy, objectives and metrics in relation to their initiatives. This means they can adapt to changing circumstances rapidly and realign with confidence. In addition however, a more formal review of the effectiveness of the balanced scorecard system should take place periodically as well.
In his book, Teaching Smart People How To Learn, Chris Argyle talks about two parts to an evaluation process. The first is to evaluate the results of the teaching process, that is, what the students have achieved. The second is to evaluate the teaching itself, that is, how well the teachers have taught. This can be applied to evaluation in the Nine Steps approach. First we need to look at how effective our strategy is and second to look at how effective the strategic process is.
How effective is our strategy?
Typically, strategic measures and objectives are reviewed monthly as part of a normal monthly review process, however, an effectiveness review usually takes place less frequently. A quarterly strategic effectiveness review is not uncommon. The purpose of the review is to check that the elements of the strategy are still valid and that they are being implemented correctly, if not then adjustments can be made. The review should take the form of a meeting sponsored by the management team and should include principal players. The agenda should include the following:
A summary of current trends and an analysis pertaining to the strategy, e.g. has the environment changed, is there any new regulation, have there been any benchmarking studies. This information should be prepared in advance and summarised by the strategic planning office.
A review of the strategic themes, objectives, metrics and targets and the associated initiatives to ensure the desired outcomes have been attained. At this stage the focus is on “have we done what we set out to do?”
Discussion on whether or not the above has or has not made a difference in relation to the desired strategy. This is usually done after the review to ensure all elements of the review are covered (it is easy to get distracted). If changes need to be made they can be identified at this point.
Action planning to record and assign ownership to any tasks that may have been generated in the previous step.
This process is the same for all organisations but how frequently it takes place may depend on the type and size of organisation.
How effective is our system?
Evaluation of the Balanced Scorecard system requires a step back. It is an evaluation of the methodology itself (not the data or results) and a check that all of the components are in place and working together. This evaluation is usually undertaken on an annual basis and consists of two major parts, the first is to assess the ‘Technical’ side, that is to put a checklist in place to ensure that all of the components of the balanced scorecard have been included and that the information has been communicated and is being used. The second is the ‘Behavioural’ side, that is, to check that the people in the organisation from leadership through to on-the-ground employees have bought in to the strategy and methodology.
The process is as follows:
Create a system evaluation and audit plan – Be clear on what is required from the effectiveness exercise, interviews will have to be undertaken, checklists created, meetings scheduled.
Assess the Balanced Scorecard Components – This is best done though interview and the use of predefined checklists to check the ‘technical’ and ‘behavioural aspects. The Balanced Scorecard institute’s book, The Institute Way includes sample check lists that can be used here.
Interview executives, managers, employees and stakeholders – This is probably the most time consuming but worthwhile activity. Interviews with key employees can reveal valuable information. Along with check list questions, be sure to have a number of open-ended questions to not limit the feedback you will attain.
Determine the organisations strategic management maturity – this can be useful in later stages to see how much work is required to improve a position on the model. The Balanced Scorecard institute has created the Strategic Management Maturity Model™ as shown in the picture above.
Report evaluation conclusions and action plan – this need not be a lengthy report, a summary and a table to include what was evaluated, what score it attained, some comments and recommendations is enough. This output then becomes an input for a final management meeting to determine whether or not the system needs to be adjusted.
Evaluation is the ninth step in a strategic planning journey. The Nine Steps to Success™ is a strategic planning methodology created by the Balanced Scorecard Institute. For more information on how to be trained as a Balanced Scorecard Professional (BSP) visit our training pages on the website.