I can still remember that morning a few summers back. Before the alarm had a chance to shake me from my slumber I jumped out of bed with a great sense of anticipation, stemming from the fact that I was to begin a Scorecard engagement with a new public-sector client that day.
After a hearty breakfast of grapefruit and toast (my grandfather’s favorite), I opened my front door and took a couple of steps towards my car when it hit me—something you rarely feel in Southern California—humidity. Not the stifl ing, barely-drag-one-foot-in-front- of-the-other kind of humidity you get in a Florida summer, but a warm and damp enough sensation for me to audibly utter: “Hmmm, strange.” But my morning was to get even stranger.
When I arrived at the client’s location the standard pleasantries were exchanged, after which I was ushered into a large conference room where I was plunked down at the head of the u-shaped table and introduced to the suspicious
crowd as their Balanced Scorecard consultant. As my host enthusiastically outlined my background I thought to myself:
“Two minutes into this and we’re off the page already.” I was sure he was going to reach a crescendo that would go
omething like, “Now join me in welcoming Paul as he tells us all about the Balanced Scorecard,” but just as the
humidity had jolted me earlier that morning his next move caught me off guard as well.
He did introduce me, but to my pleasant surprise, then kept the floor himself for the next 15 minutes as he regaled the crowd with pledge after pledge of his commitment to the Balanced Scorecard:
“The Balanced Scorecard is the most important initiative we’ll be pursuing this year.” “I’m putting the full weight of my offi ce behind this.” “I expect you to give Paul your full cooperation as he assists us i n this critical endeavor.” I could barely contain myself because, as we’ll learn in the next section on executive sponsorship, this sort of promotion for the Scorecard is pure gold and he was in full oratorical sail with no provocation from me.
The only concern I had was coming from that little voice within me, the one that has seen its share of good and bad Scorecard implementations, and it was the fact that while his cheerleading skills were second to none he never really
did come right out and say why the Balanced Scorecard was so important to the organization
Two months into the engagement and things were sputtering like the engine of my fi rst car. As hard as we tried to engage people they just didn’t seem inclined to get on board with us. Finally, after every logical textbook intervention was considered I simply began directly asking people why they were hesitant to participate. After some gentle prodding the truth emerged. In the absence of a why from their leader the grapevine quickly took over the communication challenge and plugged in for layoffs as the reason behind the Balanced Scorecard. That notion spread like wildfi re and soon nobody wanted to play ball when stepping up to the plate might just hasten the end of your employment. It took us weeks of communication and education to get the real impetus for the Scorecard out on the table and grudgingly accepted by a still largely incredulous rank and fi le. It turns out the executive who discovered the Balanced Scorecard felt it was the perfect tool to create alignment around the organization’s new customer-intimacy strategy but his failure to clearly state that in terms that everyone could rally around ultimately cost him the hearts, if not the minds, of most of his employees.