The 1 thing nobody has ever said about a scorecard (and the 7 things they often do)

What people often say about scorecards
1. This colour symbol is wrong, shouldn’t it be a green?
2. Why isn’t that an up arrow?
3. There’s a spelling mistake in the comments
4. The formatting is slightly off. Needs more bold
5. Please tell me this been signed off by XYZ department
6. Yes, but what’s the real deadline?
7. The Director hasn’t signed off the figures yet.

What nobody has ever said about scorecards
1. I have learnt loads from this.

This could easily be paired with another thing nobody has ever said about scorecards…

I have learnt nothing from this

What people pay attention to, what concerns them, tells you what is valued.
The values of performance reporting in a command and control organisation seem to be:
• Neat and complete
• No surprises
• Professional and “official” in presentation, tone and content

Learning is not valued.
Imagine presenting a scrappily drawn pie chart on the back of a bus ticket that contained startling new data never seen before about the types and frequencies of demand.
If it were “allowed” into a senior executive boardroom, it shows that learning important new things about work is valued.
If it has to be signed off by the correct authorities before being allowed in the room, and accompanied by the correct coloured symbols and well punctuated commentary, then we are actually more interested in producing the modern business equivalent of medieval illuminated manuscripts.


Corporate Performance Report Q1 (figures correct at time of publication)


This entry was posted in all wrong, command and control, measures, purpose, questions, systems thinking, targets, thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The 1 thing nobody has ever said about a scorecard (and the 7 things they often do)

  1. Charles Beauregard says:

    Other things heard in meetings when looking at a balanced scorecard:

    “There’s a clear trend here” (when there isn’t)

    “I see performance has improved/got worse this month” (when nothing had changed)

    “Now you’re consistently meeting the target, we need to increase it by 5%”

    “Can we have this as a slide pack next month”

    “Write a report for next month’s meeting to explain why so many of your team’s indicators are red”. (Then, next month) “Most of your indicators are now green – that’s an impressive improvement” (At this meeting I tried to tell Daniel Kahneman’s flight instructor story about regression to the mean – – I didn’t get to finish it)


  2. bazhsw says:

    Bravo, bravo! I detest scorecards with all my being. In the last week I was asked to ‘provide something quick as evidence of improved performance for the scorecard’. I politely said I couldn’t help. As getting the scores out quickly was more important than gathering any data that mattered the exercise was more to pat everyone on the back rather than actually find out what’s happening as a result if improvement ‘x’ to see if things actually are ‘improving’.

    Sadly I find reporting on irrelevances and a focus on ‘what is easy to capture’ rather than what is worth measuring happens all to often.


  3. bazhsw says:

    This is a true story. My wife’s organisation has just implemented the Balanced Scorecard. One metric was to ‘undertake ‘x’ for every employee’. Of course, this had never happened in the past or was only sporadic. Since they never had a measure they determined the previous year was ‘green at 100%’ (because we should have done it anyway).

    Everyone runs around like headless chickens gathering data for Q1 of the Scorecard and lo and behold it has dropped for ‘x’. Next comes the blame and inquest from the manager (who knowingly bullshitted the 100% to look good in the first place) and they are slating people for reduced performance when they haven’t a clue whether ‘x’ has gone up or down (let’s park whether it is worth measuring anyway).

    I can forgive those who haven’t learnt a different way of thinking but the biggest crime is that they paid for consultants to come in and deliver this shit.


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