Years ago, I worked for a Big 5 consulting firm and did a lot of strategic planning projects. In one case I remember we facilitated four three-day workshops with the top 25 executives in a government-owned power generation company in Canada. We went through a pretty typical strategy formulation process, talking about strengths and weakness, opportunities and threats, mission, vision, values, on down the line until we developed key performance indicators and an action plan.
A big theme in both the vision and the values was Innovation. We wordsmithed those statements, and moved on. Everything was going along like clockwork until 3 pm on the very last day of the very last workshop, when one manager raised his hand and said, “You know, after all this talk about vision and values and innovation, I don’t see that we’ve ever really defined what we mean by innovation or talked about how to put it into practice.”
And he was right. The way we did strategic planning back then, there was no connecting the dots. Which indicators would tell us if they had become more innovative? What projects would foster innovation? That was never discussed. The indicators were all operational measures, and the projects were all concerned with improving power generation processes – nothing about innovation.
I went back to the office feeling like something was wrong with this picture. Imagine my delight a few weeks later when I shared this dilemma – with another client – and he told me about balanced scorecard. I’ve been working with it ever since. With the balanced scorecard, Innovation can be treated as a theme and integrated – top to bottom - in a way that is measureable and actionable. To read more about how the balanced scorecard can foster Innovation, see How to Build Innovation Into Your Strategy.