Balanced scorecard basics: what and why?

A balanced view of the goals of the enterprise is central to achieving sustainable progress. A balanced scorecard is simply a way of summarizing and presenting this collective view.

Balanced scorecard characteristics and benefits

In going from the what to the how, the devil is in the details. That said, a balanced scorecard approach can be an excellent way to operationalize a strategy, define performance measures and map them to initiatives, and ensure one does not inadvertently lose ground on one or more fronts due to too narrow a focus on a single operational aspect.

So, what does a balanced scorecard do? By putting all goals on the table at once, a balanced scorecard gives visibility to a plurality of objectives in one place. It also allows potential conflicts and even contradictions among them to manifest themselves and be addressed early on.

A conflict might be one of relative priorities, which can be rearranged, whereas a contradiction might be of a more fundamental nature, in that doing one desirable thing would actually preclude doing another. Fortunately, avoidance of harm events and minimizing waste are not contradictory goals, rather complementary ones.  As an example, mistake-proofing processes accrues cost savings that would otherwise have to be funneled into training, while potentially ensuring patient safety

A further benefit of employing a balanced scorecard approach, not mentioned often enough, is that it can help break down the silo mindset so prevalent in many healthcare organizations. For this to occur, the initiatives arising from a series of inter-related dimensions of performance must be developed in a top-down manner and via a shared, coherent process of refining the original, high level objectives into ever more specific and measurable action plans.

Here is a caveat. Each organization needs to do some serious thinking in developing and implementing its own scorecard philosophy, as well as the related infrastructure.  As in many other instances, wholesale adoption of someone else’s solution will yield little in terms of sustainable progress.  Considering the effort usually involved in developing the framework to support monitoring progress via a balanced scorecard, this has the potential to become another serious instance of waste.



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