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The Balanced Scorecard Step 1: Identify Barriers to Success

03.01.2009

By Bill Willbrand Jr., CPA Member, Brown Smith Wallace LLC

It’s happened to almost every business owner or manager. You develop a great strategy, get your team all pumped up and then…everyday work gets in the way. Instead of working toward the long-term goal, your team loses sight of the bigger strategy and focuses on day-to-day issues.  The results aren’t anything close to what you’d hoped.

How can you improve your planning and your team’s follow through to get the results you desire? Balanced Scorecard is a proven method that aligns strategies with everyday performance. The Balanced Scorecard is a management system that enables an organization to clarify its vision and strategy and translate them into action.

The first step in the Balanced Scorecard method is to identify and overcome common barriers to success.  Think for a minute about a strategy that didn’t pan out. Before you look around your organization and start assigning blame, understand that there are four common barriers to success, and one or more of these often cause strategic plans to fail.

The first roadblock is the vision barrier. You probably have a clear vision of your goals, and you might expect that everyone else in your company can see the same obvious path to success. But in reality, few people in an organization grasp the business strategy from the beginning. If your vision is yours alone, and others are just following blindly, you don’t have a strong team working toward the same goal.

The second obstacle is the people barrier. Most people have objectives that are not linked to the strategy of the organization. Perhaps some are only concerned with achieving their specific job objectives to earn a satisfactory performance review and receive their yearly salary increase. Others may focus on advancing their own careers, but without keeping the bigger picture in mind. The members of your team must be invested in the success of your business and properly motivated to achieve long-term results to carry out your vision.

The third barrier to success is the resource barrier. Are you allocating enough time, energy and money to those things critical to the organization? For example, have you linked your budget to your overall strategy? A solid plan for future growth must be supported by adequate resources to come to fruition.

The final reason strategic plans often fail is the management barrier. Managers often make the mistake of focusing on short-term tactics instead of efforts to advance the overall strategy. Maintaining strong communication with your management team regarding strategy and creating the expectation that all members of management work toward this goal is essential. Your management team must work on the business, not just in the business.

The four barriers to success are often connected, but each plays a distinct role in determining the outcome of your business strategy. Identifying these barriers within your organization and making the proper adjustments for improvement is the first step in the process of aligning everyday performance with overall strategy.

The next Balanced Scorecard column will focus on the performance metrics that drive success.



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