Saturday, June 7, 2008

Having Trouble with Your Strategy? Then Map It (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)

By Robert S. Kaplan, David P. Norton
Publisher: Harvard Business Review
Number Of Pages: 13
Publication Date: 2000-10-01
ISBN-10 / ASIN: B00005REI5
ISBN-13 / EAN:
Binding: Digital

If you were a military general on the march, you'd want your troops to have plenty of maps--detailed information about the mission they were on, the roads they would travel, the campaigns they would undertake, and the weapons at their disposal. The same holds true in business: a workforce needs clear and detailed information to execute a business strategy successfully. Authors Robert Kaplan and David Norton, cocreators of the balanced scorecard, have adapted that seminal tool to create strategy maps. Strategy maps let an organization describe and illustrate--in clear and general language--its objectives, initiatives, targets markets, performance measures, and the links between all the pieces of its strategy. Using Mobil North American Marketing and Refining Company as an example, Kaplan and Norton walk through the creation of a strategy map and its four distinct regions--financial, customer, internal process, and learning and growth--which correspond to the four perspectives of the balanced scorecard. The authors show how the Mobil division used the map to transform itself from a centrally controlled manufacturer of commodity products to a decentralized, customer-driven organization.
Summary: Mapping StrategyRating: 5
The authors of this article have used an extension of their ground breaking work "The Balanced Scorecard, Translating Strategy into Action" to come up with strategic map template to translate strategy into action. The balanced scorecard measures a company's performance from four perspectives namely financial, customer, internal processes and learning and growth.
The strategy map is a visual framework which embeds the different items in an enterprise's balanced scorecard into a cause and effect chain, connecting desired outcomes with drivers of those results. The authors developed a standard template that companies can use to develop their own strategy maps. The template contains four regions that correspond to the four perspectives of the balanced scorecard namely financial, customer, internal processes and learning and growth. The template provides a common framework and language that can be used to describe any strategy. A strategy map allows an organization "to describe and illustrate, in clear and general language, its objectives, initiatives, and targets; the measures used to assess performance; and the linkages that are the foundation for strategic direction."
Strategy maps are particularly critical in the information age where businesses must create and deploy intangible assets such as customer relationships, information communication technologies, employee skills and knowledge and an innovative problem solving corporate culture. The strategy maps enable organizations to describe and value these critical intangible assets that are major sources of competitive advantage.
I enjoyed reading this article as it is very practical and uses a visual template which is simple and useful to any organization, enabling employees to understand the company's strategy and how they can play their part in implementing it. I recommend it to managers and students of strategic planning. For those who have studied the balanced business scorecard, this is a natural follow up which they should find very interesting and which they can implement in their organizations.
Summary: Great for a Quick Study of MappingRating: 4
No, this is not an intense study of mapping, but if you're interested in gaining a quick overview of the concept so you can participate in a strategic mapping initiative, this article will help prepare you for the process. Also very useful as a visual reference aid while working through a more thorough publication such as "Strategy Maps" by Kaplan and Norton. For $7, I felt it a worthwhile purchase.
However, there was a technical glitch. When I downloaded it, the article came up within IE6 and Adobe Acrobat. My printer was at the office and the File, Save menu options were greyed out. I didn't want to lose the article, so I clicked to Explorer in WinXP, located the LocalSettings folder and from there the TemporaryInternetFiles folder, sorted by size, and there it was - approx 3,500K. I copied and pasted into MyDocuments folder and it appeared with the proper name. I included this in my review in case you experience a similar problem.
Summary: Fast, good strategy informationRating: 4
If you want some quick, inexpensive info on strategy to help you on a project or schoolwork, or just for professional interest, this is great.

It takes seconds to download and you can print and read on the bus!
Summary: Useful map/template to translate strategy into actionRating: 4
This 2000 Harvard Business Review article, by Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan and David Norton, founder and president of the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative ... and ex-president of Nolan, Norton & Co., is an extension to their 1996-book 'The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action' and their 1992-, 1993-, and 1996-articles. The balanced scorecard made it possible for managers to express and measure operational performance.
In this article, the authors discuss the use of strategy maps to explain your strategy to all people in your organization. The authors use balanced scorecard strategy maps to show how an organization can convert its assets into desired outcomes: "... the template shows how employees, need certain knowledge, skills, and systems (learning and growth perspective) to innovate and build the right strategic capabilities and efficiencies (internal process perspective) so that they can deliver specific value to the market (customer perspective), which will lead to higher shareholder value (financial perspective)." According to the authors it is best to build these strategy maps from the top down, and then charting the routes that will lead to the desired outcomes. This should make the likelihood of a successful implementation of strategy possible. The authors use Mobil's (integrated U.S. refiner-marketer) strategy map as an example.
I was pleasantly surprised by this fourth article, since I did not enjoy their second and third articles. The difference between this article and the previous two is the introduction of the balanced scorecard strategy map. This map is a great visual template which is useful to all companies and explains the cause-and-effect relationships between the various perspectives. The advantage of this map is that it is understandable to people who were not involved in the strategic planning process - normally, the employees in the firing line. The article is written in simple US-English.
Summary: This does not print - you can read it thoughRating: 1
The paper is as advertised, but you will probably only be able to read it. There is an error in the reader software that will not allow it to print properly (I only got a couple of pages to print). When I finally took, or rather wasted, the time to investigate further on the Adobe site there is a long section on this problem in the "User to User" forums.
First I complained to HBR who said it is not their problem! For someone who sells articles and books on Marketing that is a very strange reply. They said ask Adobe. I tried. The support person was polite and helpful, perhaps just to get me off the phone as nothing else happened.
As there are intricate diagrams you will be a masochist with time on your hands if you want to copy that by hand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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