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on 4 June 2002
One of the classic texts of the 1990s, the Balanced Scorecard has brought the importance of performance measurement to a generation of managers. It's still a worthwhile read, although more recent models, like the Performance Prism by Neely, seem much broader in scope.
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on 24 April 1999
I read the initial Harvard Business Review article years ago and was excited about the concepts. Rushed out to buy the book when it was first available. What a disappointment! This book is little more than business 101: aligning objectives, strategies, tactics with employee work. Important? Yes. Unique? No.
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The Balanced Scorecard looks at the important issues of alignment, coordination, and effective implementation. Most business thinkers like to start with the big picture, and end there. As a result, most ideas for going in a new direction are quickly diluted by misunderstanding, falling back on old habits, and lethargy. Since Peter Drucker first popularized the idea of business strategy, there have been vastly more strategies conceived than there have been strategies successfully implemented as a result. Much attention has been paid to devising better strategies in the last four decades, and little to implementing strategies. The big pay-off is in the implementation, and The Balanced Scorecard is one of handful of books that provide important and valuable guidance to explain what needs to be done to successfully execute strategy. You must have more measures, and different measures than the accounting system provides. You also need to link measures and compensation to the key tasks that each person must perform. This book is simply the Rosetta Stone of communicating and managing strategy. The Balanced Scorecard is the beginning of the practical period of maturity in the field of business strategy. Read this book today to enjoy much more prosperity! I also recommend that you read The Fifth Discipline, The Fifth Discipline Handbook, and The Dance of Change to understand more about the context in which you are trying to make positive change. These four books are excellent companions for each other.
The series of books about The Balanced Scorecard includes The Strategy-Focused Organization and Strategy Maps. You'll love all three!
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on 15 April 1999
Professor Kaplan has created a business atlas (better than a road map) to help executives understand how to use measurement to align strategy, planning and performance. The scorecard becomes a common vocabulary, eliminating communication stalls. The measures may be changed as conditions require and focus is provided. Unlike so many business models, THE BALANCED SCORECARD lives and adjusts with the organization. As co-author of THE 2,000 PERCENT SOLUTION, I am acutely aware of the harm done by processes that exist because of tradition (that is the way we do it here), the difficulty in communicating ideas and messages, the importance of measurement and the need to measure so many things to learn what causes change and if progress is being made. I appreciate and applaud Professor Kaplan for developing THE BALANCED SCORECARD and for knowing how to introduce it to executives to encourage acceptance and wide-spread use.
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on 21 September 1998
I have read tomes of quantum theory that were easier to read. I find myself going back over and over single sentences, which are half page long. The idea of putting actual strategy, steps & measurements behind a corporate vision is nothing new. I fear this book was more to guide executives toward consulting services, then to contribute to corporate welfare.
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on 11 July 1999
A much needed overview of why companies (and organizations) need a strategy linked to performance measures in a way that communciates the strategy throughout the organization. As much as I liked "The Balanced Scorecard" it is not as complete in the area of operations implimentation as I need when working with clients. I've found an excellent reference for operations managers to be "Operational Performance Measurement: Increasing Total Productivity" by Will Kaydos. Executives get the Scorecard, operations managers need different insight to make it work for them.
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on 10 December 2012
I bought this book as I know it has a big fan base, and I have met business leaders who rave about it. For me, it is one of the few business books that I have been unable to complete! The basis of the book makes good business sense but it came over as the same old, same old, and a struggle to read....disappointing.
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Back in the early 1990s I was thinking a lot about performance measurement in a manufacturing business and I wanted to reflect more non-financial factors that provided a more balanced view and cascaded our main business objectives down the organisation.

When I read the book I found that the authors shared many of the same ideas as I did. This was no surprise when much of it is common sense when you take the time and trouble to think about it. The problem at that time was few people were really thinking beyond financial measures and a few productivity based volume metrics.

What they did, that I didn't, was 1) come up with a catchy name and 2) swing a brilliant marketing campaign behind it.

The strength is that when this is explained, it all seems so logical. Of course you need to link KPI to your strategic objectives with a good balance of leading measures that predict future performance with the all important, but lagging, financial numbers.

The weakness is that it's much harder to do in practice. There's a cost involved in measuring and reporting anything and the value of monitoring has to come from corrective and supporting actions.

The balanced scorecard has gone on to be extremely popular with big companies and the logic of a balanced set of performance metrics needs to be rippled down into the independently owned SMEs. While this book began it all, there are better books that update the ideas and give you a clearer idea of how to implement eg Paul Niven's book "Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining Results".
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on 23 October 2015
Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996. Nominated for Financial Times/ Booz-Allen & Hamilton Global Business Book Award presented by Booz-Allen & Hamilton. Winner of Notable Contribution to Management Accounting Literature Award presented by American Accounting Association
“The Balanced Scorecard” addresses an ever-increasing accounting problem, measuring current companies using old accounting techniques.The book explains that we are now in the information age and the old accounting from the industrial age doesn’t properly reflect or measure a company. The theory is that there are many other intangible assets that a company possesses that are not reflected on the balance sheet but do contribute greatly to the performance of the company. The accounting from the industrial age focuses solely on financial performance neglecting a growing contributor to financial health, the intangible assets.“The Balanced Scorecard” describes a method in which a company can measure and even manage using these intangible assets. A Balanced Scorecard involves developing one strategy or mission for the company. The idea is to incorporate every aspect of the company that will contribute to achieving this mission. In the process, a company gains a new understanding of their business and a new management system.
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on 29 May 1998
Balanced Scorecard delivers what it promises: a bridge between strategic goals and performance monitoring. As a strategy consultant I highly recommend it -- not because it offers a canned strategic solution (it doesn't), but because when executives think deeply enough about strategy to examine implementation and organizational alignment, strategies get much better, productive and successful. And they even get communicated outside of the executive office! I consider this book necessary (though not sufficient) for any company who wants their strategic planning to pay off.
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