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Cool website :D I'm happy I wandered here through my friend's blog.
I'm gonna definitely have to add another one to the blogroll :)

Samdarshi Rana

Gracias for stimulating me to go do my own my own legwork.
Yours was way more detailed than mine.

Sandy Richardson

Hi Nadeem - great advice from a real life experience/example. Thank you very much for sharing! Warm regards, Sandy

Nadeem Kureshi

Sandy, Hi.
We are working on balanced scorecard for a large public sector organization with a considerable diversity of roles in SBUs; here in Pakistan.
Diversity in SBUs actually means there are hardly any "true" themes which will work for all SBUs; in your words, 'the value for strategy execution is even less'. However, since Theme Maps seem to be a truism in managing balanced scorecard systems, we tried to make best possible themes. A fall out of this is that the Theme Maps we are trying to make have very poor cause-and-effect linkage across perspectives.
An alternate we tried is to make maps by "Groups of SBUs" rather than themes. This seems to work better than Theme Maps but still have the linkage problem.
My suggestion to your readers, who are working for organizations with a fair degree of role diversity of organizational complexity: "stay away from theme maps and live with the corporate map only".

Sandy Richardson

Hi Pete:
You have highlighted another really critical issue when using strategic themes. Thank you!

Peter Shaw

Strategic themes will tend to take on a life of their own and live on after their usefulness. They also tend to take on too much of an internal focus leaving the company exposed to external factors not effectively addressed in the strategy process.

I would only use them after the fact when communicsting with employees so that the message has a better change of being retained.


Sandy Richardson

Hi Tim - thank you for your comments. I think that if organizations are determined to use themes they must realize that they are adding organizing categories that can assist in communications but add little value from a strategy execution perspective.

If they are trying to streamline a busy strategy map, I would encourage them to really focus on identifying the strategic objectives that are critical to achieving their misison & vision first.

A weighted strategy map, where the strategic objectives (SO'S) have been weighted relative to each other, is the best way to assist with focused intiative prioritization - fewer initiatives will align with specific SO's than a theme, making initiative prioritization much clearer.

With regard to scorecard reviews, BSC indicators should be derived from specific SO's based on clear SO definitions - themes are too big and generalized to be of much help here. Improvement in indicator performance will indicate SO progress which will, in turn, indicate progress for the overarching strategic theme (if used).

My problem is that, by design, themes are big categories that don't clearly drive specific action - though we might be tempted to believe so. SO's, on the other hand, are designed to drive action. With strategy execution challeneges being a common issue in businesses today, I have to wonder why organizations would want to confuse/complicate things for employees with more non-actionable information.

In my experience, employees "get" the strategy map if it tells a coherent story. They don't need the themes and they appreciate working directly with strategic objectives that help them see how they can put the strategy into action!

Tim Schanne

Sandy, I appreciate your approach to the question around themes. Specifically your preference for action oriented objectives.

I will say for some organizations who use themes, the benefit you mentioned around simplifying the strategy for those not participating gets amplified when the number of action oriented objectives is high.

But even if the number of objectives are limited to the critical few and in spite of the real risks posed by using themes you mention, do you have any thoughts on ways to an organization can use themes to their advantage if they’re determined to use them? Perhaps in areas of initiative prioritization, scorecard reviews, etc…

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