When it comes to leadership, we’ve got the idea of balance all wrong. Our basic definitions of balance include words like “stability” and “equipoise” and “equilibrium.” But business is a dynamic, moving, ever-changing thing. Equilibrium, if it exists at all, exists for only a nanosecond.
Another way we get balance wrong is with the balanced scorecard, developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. According to their publisher, the authors
“show how to use measures in four categories – financial performance, customer knowledge, internal business processes, and learning and growth – to align individual organizational and cross-departmental initiatives and to identify entirely new processes for meeting customer and shareholder objectives.”
Wow! If that were true, it would be great.
The scorecard puts too much weight on design, almost always by academics, consultants and learned specialists, and leaves it up to managers to figure out how to make it work. Each of the four categories includes several tasks. What’s most important? Why, all of them, of course. One friend of mine, who worked for a company that attempted to implement a balanced scorecard, referred to it as “the muddled scorecard.”
Dynamic Balance for Today’s Leader
If you’re a leader today, you don’t need the simplicity of the balance scale or the complexity of a balanced scorecard. You need something dynamic that gives you the balance of an athlete or a dancer. You want to be able to move and change direction and perform without failing and without falling.
Three Important Categories
There are, literally, dozens of things you could pay attention to, but you’ll be much more effective if you limit yourself to three important things in three different categories. Then limit yourself to one key measure in each category.
Track something that tells you how you’re doing with accomplishing your team’s mission. Pick a lead measure, an activity that you can measure easily, that drives lagging measures of performance. Sales organizations often track the number of sales calls because they know that if their salespeople make enough calls, ultimately the sales will come out right.
Pay attention to activities that develop people and improve processes so you can do things better tomorrow. Training and development activities would fit here. So would product development and process improvement.
Pay attention to what you do to care for the people on your team. The effective bosses that I studied made sure that they did some simple activity every day that allowed them to touch base with their team members and see if there were any issues that required attention.
Set Up a Simple Tracking System
Once you’ve figured out simple things to measure, keep the measurement process simple. At the end of the day, you should be able to tell how you did in each area. If you can set up a simple visual tracking method, that’s even better.
Dynamic balance, the balance of the athlete or the dancer, lets you engage in purposeful motion and change direction quickly. Focus on a productivity measure, a progress measure, and a people measure, and keep your tracking system simple.
The 347 tips in my ebook can help you develop dynamic balance and Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.