12th January 2004 - Balanced Scorecard

I read "Balanced Scorecard" by Nils-Goran Olve and Anna Sjostrand, and incidentally this was also my first e-book. Im sure that this way of obtaining written information will be the way of the future; however we still lack the devices for proper presentation before it will compete with books as we know them.

The book is a guide to the concept of the balanced scorecard; it is both a presentation of the concept as well as a number of business cases that took advantage of the balanced scorecard.

Generally, the balanced scorecard is an approach for looking at an organization as a holistic system; the balanced scorecard is balanced in three ways: it is balanced in time long-term and short term, it is balanced in internal and external processes, and finally it is balanced in causes and effects. The balanced scorecard was conceived a little more than a decade ago by Harvard professor Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, and in its original shape incorporated this balance across four perspectives, namely: customer, finance, internal processes, and learning/growth. In more recent applications of the balanced scorecard it has become good custom to incorporate the people or human resource perspective as well.

Regardless the specific original organizational perspectives, implementing a balanced scorecard is usually a process of tailoring the concept to the individual organization, thus the perspectives in any balanced scorecard will be a reflection of the focus areas of the organization. Just as there are multiple ways to implement the balanced scorecard, there are just as many ways of presenting its contents.

In my personal experience that scorecards have tended to be something for executives only, but the idea of aligning the organization around a number of KPIs that are derived from the overall strategy gives much meaning on the broad organizational scale. However, in the CALM research I will have to question the efficiency of this approach since the chaotic contemporary business environment is unforgiving for the delay from strategy to action of such an approach.

Regardless my personal skepticism on the broad scale, I would recommend this book to everyone who is interested in getting an introduction to the balanced scorecard. To me this was a very good walk through and inspiration for looking into new ways of applying the good things from the balanced scorecard to the dynamics of the business world today through the use of IT.

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The time frame for this well-informed and provocative speculation on relatively near-term and more distant potentials is clearly within mankind's grasp. Dr. Middelfart argues persuasively that within the next one or two decades, symbiotic links with "intelligent machines" will surely leverage people's potentials, far beyond all human progress to date!

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