Boots on the Ground: Making a Difference in Kuwait

Boots on the Ground: Making a Difference in Kuwait

Dateline: CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait. First, let me acknowledge that for some inexplicable reason, my career has repeatedly veered into Department of Defense work and this little fact is extremely amusing to those who know that my idea of “roughing it” means staying in less than a four-star hotel and, even worse, having to eat with plastic utensils and use paper napkins.  Nonetheless, I and my high heels are frequently found traipsing across military bases.

I was recently on yet another military base and had the opportunity to visit with a former Institute student – a U.S. Army Colonel.  He had deployed to Kuwait just days after attending our Balanced Scorecard Boot Camp course in 2011.  Upon arrival he found that the Army Contracting Command for which he was to be responsible was faced with tremendous challenges – from dealing with perceptions of corruption in the local supply chain to managing the extreme complexities of contracting for all of the products and services needed by the Army in such a challenging location.

This particular command needed a rapid transformation in order to achieve his vision of “being recognized by our customers as the best contracting office in the U.S. Army.”  –  a bold vision considering the challenges that he and his team were facing.

But before his tour of duty had ended, his contracting command had, indeed, received accolades and acknowledgement as being one of the best Army Contracting Commands anywhere in the world.

How did he lead his Command to achieve this vision in such a short time period?  He applied his new knowledge and developed a strategic balanced scorecard.

A few “secrets” to the success of his scorecard implementation should sound familiar to students of The Institute Way:

  • Leadership Engagement: Command & staff meetings utilized statistics on a dashboard tool to provide a snapshot status of where the organization was in accomplishing the strategic plan objectives.
  • Incorporating the “Voice of the Customer”: The team regularly conducted customer satisfaction surveys to obtain feedback in order to sustain or improve the contracting processes within the command.
  • Alignment: The command’s managers embraced the strategic scorecard and used it for employee counseling and to track personnel contributions.

Army Public Affairs subsequently featured the command’s accomplishments – to learn more:  http://www.army.mil/article/71433

To learn more about how to achieve transformational results for your organization or to read more stories of break-through success, we invite you to explore The Institute Way:  Simplify Strategic Planning & Management with the Balanced Scorecard.

Dear Abby-Gail: How Much is Too Much?

Dear Abby-Gail: How Much is Too Much?

There has been a lot of interest in my recent blog post:  “Balanced Scorecard Gone Bad: What’s that Funky Smell?”  Several people have posted comments and questions in various forums, but one in particular deserves special attention.

Dear Abby-Gail: I believe a key point in your message is that a strategy is never static due to external changes (e.g., competitor moves, new technologies), so it will require continuous adjusting.  But this raises a different question. Since as strategic objectives change or the emphasis of what to accomplish within strategic objectives change, this means some KPIs may be dropped and others added (or their weightings may need to be tweaked). As a result, how much change in KPIs can an organization tolerate?

Dear Gary: This is an excellent question.  When strategy changes, then KPIs will have to change. Organizational tolerance to change is affected by several things.

(1) Is the scorecard system engrained in the organizational culture such that management trusts the system and uses it to make decisions?  If so, they will have relatively high tolerance for change in the KPIs because they understand that the change is necessary if they are to continue to rely upon the system to make strategically relevant decisions.

(2) Given that you know you need to adjust the KPI, how quickly can you achieve 7 data points on the new or adjusted KPI?  In other words, is there baseline information available that will help you quickly establish an XmR chart?  If not, can you achieve frequent enough reporting points to have useful trend analysis within 6 months?  If you were using an excellent KPI in the past and then switch to one in which it will be a year (or more) before you have enough data for management to have the 7 data points needed to make statistically sound decisions, this will cause frustration and lower the tolerance for the necessary change.

(3) Can your software system handle these changes without losing your historical performance on the objective (assuming the objective does not change)?  Knowing that you won’t be throwing away historical information increases tolerance for change.

(4) What about rewards tied to KPIs?  How do your Human Resources processes link individual or group performance and incentives to KPI performance?  What will be the result of changing a KPI right now?  If it can’t be changed due to a covenant with employees, can it be removed from the calculation so that you don’t keep working towards an “expired strategy”?

I invite feedback from others.  What else has impacted your organization’s tolerance for needed change in its KPIs?  And does anyone want to share their tips for overcoming resistance to this sort of change?

For more challenges and solutions, we invite you to explore The Institute Way: Simply Strategic Planning & Management with the Balanced Scorecard.

The Ultimate Fantasy

The Ultimate Fantasy

High School Football, College Football and Pro Football still don’t scratch the itch.  Are you familiar with Fantasy Football? Football Season in Texas is well underway yet even with  football everywhere you turn, there are a lot of people who are just as excited about Fantasy Football.  If you are not familiar with the concept, fantasy football is a game in which team “owners” draft  pro players to assemble their ultimate fantasy team.  Then as actual pro football games are played each week, the resultant statistics  from the games are used to calculate how the owner’s fantasy team would have performed. In other words, if the Cowboys’ quarterback had been playing with the Redskins’ running back and Denver’s wide receiver, how would they have performed as a team?

I never really understood the attraction of Fantasy Football….until today.  I have recently observed a couple of organizations that are similar size / similar business models, yet their team performance is radically different.  In one organization, people are enthusiastic and innovative – they have a wonderful team spirit –  and in the other, the team has to be prodded along.  And as I mulled this over, I remembered Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”.  Pink has found that autonomy over “your team”…in other words, being able to choose your own team…is a primary motivator and he backs this up with research as well as examples from companies such as Whole Foods and Facebook that are successfully allowing employees to select their teammates.

And it hit me, the difference between the high performing company and the struggling company had to do with team performance.  And there was a difference in how the teams were created. One had forced staff to “play nicely together” while the other has allowed its staff more autonomy to choose their teams. And isn’t that the ultimate fantasy? To be able to choose a winning team rather than plodding along with whatever team you happen to have landed in?

I get it now.  This is also what makes Fantasy Football so fun – the ability to choose a team and feel pride in the team’s performance results. I plan to participate next season – that way, if the Cowboys have a bad week, I’ll still have a chance to celebrate via my fantasy team’s results!

To learn more about organizational change management and how to achieve transformational results for your organization, we invite you to explore The Institute Way:  Simplify Strategic Planning & Management with the Balanced Scorecard.  And to learn more about Fantasy Football, check out the popular sitcom, The League.

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