Setting Goals: How to Use a Scorecard to Hold Yourself (And Your Team) Accountable.

What is a Scorecard?

A scorecard is simply a way to document the work you’ll do over the course of the year. The concept of a Balanced Scorecard was introduced in the Harvard Business Review back in 1992. Think of it as a corporate vision board. What are the big goals your company or department has? How will you reach them? Where do you want to be by the end of the year? 

Why does my department need one? 

If you work in a center of excellence, lead a team or your company is in a transition phase, a scorecard will keep everyone on the same page about what the big goals are and how you will achieve them. A good scorecard can prevent shiny object syndrome. There are so many great things you and your team COULD do, but what SHOULD you do to keep moving things forward? When you create a scorecard and your leadership team and stakeholders sign off on it, you’re agreeing to the big priorities for the year. While priorities could change due to some external factors out of your control, the scorecard should not be edited. If there is a major shift in the business (a competitor comes out of nowhere to crush you, you lose funding, the CEO leaves in the middle of a scandal) you should meet with your leadership team to review the scorecard and re-align initiatives and priorities. 

What should we include in a scorecard?

Your scorecard should reflect all major initiatives, who is responsible for the execution, how much progress you intend to make each quarter and where you need to be by the end of the year.  Within your team, you’ll then be able to drill down further. If you know what needs to be done each quarter you can then plan out how you’ll accomplish these goals at a monthly and then weekly level. This detail may be in the form of individual project plans for each initiative, but does not need to be part of the scorecard process. 

How do we create our scorecard?

You can start with the four questions that the HBR team poses:

  • How do customers see us? (customer perspective)
  • What must we excel at? (internal perspective)
  • Can we continue to improve and create value? (innovation and learning perspective)
  • How do we look to shareholders? (financial perspective)

If these aren’t exactly right for you and your team, think about a few areas you need to focus on to achieve your department goals and support the overall company goals.  

Other things to consider:

  1. What is the company goal for the year? How much revenue does the company need to bring in and how does my department impact revenue? 
  2. What can we accomplish with the resources we currently have? Do we need to ask for or allocate additional resources? 
  3. How do we work with other departments? What interdependencies exist and how do we collaborate most effectively? 
  4. Who are our stakeholders? What do we need to do to support them? How do we communicate with stakeholders and when? 
  5. Who is going to determine if we are successful? How do we show our progress and successes? 

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