Do Balanced Scorecards Work? What a stupid question…

I was recently asked that question by a client. Now, in all fairness, I didn’t actually say it was a stupid question.

But it is. Of course they work.

The premise of the question is the problem. Of course Balanced Scorecards “work.” They display a particular set of organization-specific metrics to use within the context of coaching and performance management/improvement. They don’t do–nor are they supposed to do–any more than that.

Stupid (768x1024)Therein lies the problem, and the basis for my “stupid” comment. Too many think that scorecards, incentive plans, spiffs, et al, should actually DO something. Like somehow substitute for leadership. Like motivate so a leader doesn’t have to. Like provide the impetus for discretionary effort and productivity without any leadership heavy-lifting.

Balanced Scorecards work just fine. Incentives (if done properly) work just fine.

When you watch baseball, what do you expect the scorecard to do? Make hits? Score runs? Catch balls? It’s a scorecard–it tracks your score.

When you play golf, what do you expect the scorecard to do? Hit drives? Make putts? Whistle at the cart girl? It’s a scorecard–it tracks your score.

If related leadership would just remove their heads from their collective butts, maybe the added benefit of those scorecards could be realized. Brazen Leaders don’t have their heads up their butts. That’s practically a definition.

But then, I’m just a consultant.


  1. says

    This is a great reminder for those who think scorecards solve problems. They are simply the result of what is being done within the company. If companies are tracking the correct indicators they should tell us if something within our practices, techniques, and behaviors need extra attention.

  2. says

    I agree and your comparison of sports scorecards and business scorecards is brilliant. Too many leaders hide behind policies (or scorecards) and expect them to do their job. I’d love to hear more from you on this subject.

    • says

      Richard, I think we agree that programmatic efforts may have their place, but they can never substitute for boots-on-the-ground leadership. Much of the recent “do away with performance reviews” is a good example. Good form, poor execution, hoping the process will do what leaders aren’t. Ain’t gonna happen…

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