A Measurable Strategy on a Single Page

June 25, 2013 by Stacey Barr

Strategy maps, a la the Balanced Scorecard, are the most commonly used visual representation of strategy on a single page. But are they the only way to visualise a measurable strategy?

The power of strategy maps lies in their succinct and visual presentation of strategic objectives, in a way that highlights the cause-effect relationships among those objectives.

It’s a brilliant thing, to be able to see the big picture of your organisation’s strategy in one view, on a single page.

In PuMP, we use a Results Map to do this.

[You can get a pdf of this here.]

The zones in a Results Maps make cascading and aligning strategy easier.

There are almost always four zones in a Results Map:

  • The pink zone is the middle zone. It’s where results implied by your mission and vision belong.
  • The green zone is the next one out, and it’s where the results implied by your (usually weasely or vague or action-oriented) strategic plan belong.
  • The blue zone is where results implied by departmental or customer-facing business process outcomes belong.
  • The orange zone is where results implied by teams or business units or sub-processes belong.

These zones are arranged in a way that you can see how strategy cascades outwards from the centre, and how people can see alignment from their work through to the organisation’s purpose.

The bubbles in a Results Map are measurable performance results.

There is no place for actions on a Results Map. If you try to measure things like ‘train staff in negotiation’, you’ll just end up with a silly and trivial measure like ‘number of staff trained’.

And there is no place for weasel words on a Results Map. If you try to measure something like ‘enhance innovation’, you’ll end up with a uninformative measure like ‘number of new ideas generated’. Bleh.

Each bubble on a Results Map contains a unique performance result that is expressed as though it were a fact, like these:

  • Customers are loyal.
  • Delivery cycle time matches what the customer was promised.
  • Employees are not harmed at work.

Wording performance results this way makes it easier to visualise the state we want to reach, and that makes it easier to find meaningful measures.

The relationships tell a fuller story than just cause-effect.

There are three relationship types on a Results Map:

  • cause-effect, which means that by achieving one result, the other is more likely to be achieved
  • companion, which means that both results are synergistic and need to be achieved together
  • conflict, which means that acheiving one result puts the other result at a high risk of being sabotaged

Strategy is often not linear, and the Results Map allows you to tell the story of strategy more flexibly.

Performance measures are evidence of performance results.

The Results Map is the technique we use at Step 2 of the PuMP Blueprint methodology to make a set of objectives or goals measurable. There’s no point trying to measure a strategy that ain’t measurable!

When the measures for each performance result are designed, you can put them right on the Results Map to complete the story of the strategy.

Where’s Wally?

Or, if you’re not in Australia, ‘Where’s Waldo?’

One of my first Results Mapping clients nicknamed it the Where’s Wally Diagram. That was for two reasons.

Firstly, it was because the Results Map is, admittedly, quite a busy diagram on first glance. Not quite as bad as looking at a Where’s Wally cartoon, though! And you can successfully explain it in just a couple of minutes, anyway.

Secondly, and mainly, it was because once Wally was found in the map, Wally knew where he fit in the organisation. Wally had a line of site from his work results through to the organisation’s priorities and purpose. That’s pretty neat.

You can learn how to create and use Results Maps to make your strategy measurable and easier to communicate, at an upcoming PuMP Blueprint Workshop or anytime with the PuMP Blueprint Online Program.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION:

What’s your reaction to the PuMP Results Map? Share your suggestions on the blog.

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  1. Brad Sampson says:

    Stacey–

    When I look at the bulls eye map it seems to me that the pink areas could be my strategic objectives, the green my underlying strategic initiatives. What about David Parmenter’s critical success factors as described in his books. Are they on this map or are the used to derive measures I put onto the map. Not sure I am getting the feel for the colors and what they mean exactly.

  2. Stacey Barr says:

    The pink area is most definitely about the highest level results of the organisation – the results you design your strategy to pursue. The pink results are specifically to do with mission and vision and stakeholder value, the things that just don’t change. Your current strategic objectives have a cause effect relationship to the pink results. I’ve found it very worthwhile to keep these two separate.

    David Parmenter’s CSFs are definitely as you say, they are part of the process of designing your current strategic objectives. They are like strategic themes in Balanced Scorecard terminology, or Key Result Areas as others might call them. Sometimes on the Results Map we create ‘slices’ for these CSFs. But rarely do results fall neatly within one slice or one CSF.

    Strategic initiatives are usually actions or projects that are focused on changing business processes. The business process results that they change (improve, actually) are blue level in the Results Map.

    Thanks for your questions, Brad. They are insightful.

  3. Prahlad Bhugra says:

    Hi Stacey, the circular strategy diagrams are very informative and easy to understand. At first gance I did not connect with it, but kept thinking about it for a day or so – now I get the connections in the diagram. The orange & blue circles are processes of an organization. The blue is output of the process and orange is the process variables which effect the output. Green is the value to customer or our strategy. Finally pink is the vision & mission of the company. I can see existing operational processes in the diagram, I can see compliance processes in the diagram, I can see customer managment processes in the diagram and also I can see transformational work being done by the fire department. You have brought out the support functions also clearly in the diagram (which are usually kept in separate startegy maps) with nice connection of profit plan inputs with them. I also liked the way the sentences are framed – that gives very positive attitude to everything being done in the organization. I would appreciate if you can share few more examples with me. regards
    Prahlad

  4. Marcelo says:

    Hi Stacey!

    I’d love to see the dashboard for the Results Map. Can you share it?

    Regards,
    Marcelo

    • Marcelo says:

      Hi Stacey,

      Just looking at it again and saw the above comment of mine. I’m still interested on it and would like to know if you can answer it.

      Regards,

      Marcelo

      • Stacey Barr says:

        Marcelo, there is no dashboard for this Results Map that I can share, sorry. I’ll no doubt write about Results Maps again, and will try to find examples that I can share dashboards for.

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