If you cannot measure it, you may be in trouble!

June 17, 2015

weights and measures‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ is a refrain that managers often hear but do not fully appreciate until confronted with a major challenge such as the complexity of a business transformation programme.  The need to diagnose the problems, stop the rot and prescribe timely and effective treatment, often quickly overwhelms management that is more used to reactive management of day to day events.

Driving through the strategy should be the focus of all management.  Performance management enables managers to maximise and sustain corporate performance by measuring and managing the drivers of future profitability.  Those drivers are what a business should invest in now to sustain and improve performance. The start point must be to quickly establish the necessary disciplines and approaches for the design and implementation of an effective management information system.  Such systems must comprise not only the key performance indicators (KPI’s), but also the execution management skills and processes to use them effectively in achieving operational and strategic objectives.

Silo’d Confusion

An organisation’s efforts to develop effective management information systems are often hampered by confusion caused by factors that include a one-dimensional, simplistic view of the problems.  For example:

  • The finance view‘All we need to do is supplement our financial information with a range of non‑financial          measures.’
  • The IT view – ‘All we need is a data warehouse and interrogation software to exploit the operational data.’
  • The management view‘All we need are better managers and staff.’
  • The staff view‘All we need is a business strategy and effective management.’

All these views may be valid, but the inter-relationships and dependencies between them are not identified and so critical thinking is impossible.  The absence of a universally accepted discipline for management information, similar to that for accounting which underpins the development and integrity of financial information, means there is limitless scope for confusion and paralysis.

A disciplined and structured approach to developing a performance management system must address the execution management processes, training and personnel issues to make effective interventions and encourage appropriate behaviours.

The Performance Measurement Framework

Business managers inhabit a practical world of reacting to day to day operational issues.  They may not haveThe Performance Management Framework the time nor interest in relating the management theories and measurement concepts that underlie the design of a performance management system.

The Performance Measurement Framework model links business objectives to the interventions needed to manage their achievement and gives managers a key to relating the concepts with the practical steps they can immediately take to develop their own performance measures.

The framework model is structured as a sequence of provocations linking business objectives with performance measures.  The performance measures feed the performance management process to actively manage the business on timely actionable intelligence.  Each of the provocations is addressed by practical approaches and quality assured by the pre-determined design principles.

The design principles reflect the values and behaviours that an organisation wishes to embed in all aspects of its structure, processes and relationships.

The Performance Management Process

A performance measurement system is often described as a ‘dashboard’, similar to that of a car.  Taking the analogy further, the performance management process ensures that the driver is sitting in the driving seat, knows how to drive and where he is going!  As with a car, the driver must plan the route and fuel the car, monitor the journey and take control with appropriate actions to ensure a safe and timely arrival.  Managers use just such a cycle to ‘drive’ through the business strategy.PerfManProc

The Performance Management Process is one of the tools Blue-Plate uses to support the KeyneLink Strategy Execution Management approach, and enable managers to visualise and understand the component parts of the process.

This conceptual understanding is a prerequisite to equipping managers to design and implement a performance management process that is appropriate for their organisation.


Bloomington, Luxembourg and No Change in 800 years

May 17, 2013

May 2013 Newsletter

All change at the FSA

From April 1st the Financial Services Authority was no more, having been split between the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.  Read more about what has changed and will it work to prevent more PPI scandals at The New Regulators are No Joke

Foreign travel

Bloomington Indiana

I had the pleasure of attending a KeyneInsight (www.keyneinsight.com)  Strategy Execution Management workshop in Bloomington Indiana.  After negotiating trains, planes and automobiles in getting to Bloomington from the UK, much was learned from the experience of other Keynelink distributors including, the benefits to Keynelink clients of:

  • a complete audit trail and details of performance progress meetings held between a manager and their subordinates. Such information has been successfully used in defence of legal actions taken by disgruntled employees.
  • leadership and management development, for example.

–  the power of having visibility of whether and how the key strategic initiatives are being supported and progressed throughout the organisation.

–  promoting regular conversations between managers and their subordinates.

  • turnarounds – where Keynelink is a key enabler in supporting a successful turnaround

Luxembourg

Luxembourg is a less complex trip than Bloomington and resulted in an enthusiastic response from a Life Assurer for Keynelink to support their current performance management system in providing:

  • Transparent structure and process

– clear alignment with strategic objectives and values

– consistent process discipline

– comprehensive metrics to maintain alignment

  • System support and data repository

– dynamic, fully-operationalised role definitions

– audit trail of issues

  • support for development of excellent management practice
  • evidence for contentious actions

High School

A similarly enthusiastic local high school wants a speedy implementation of Keynelink to support the management of support staff in performance appraisal system, culture change and provide the Head and Senior Management Team with transparency on progress with the strategic initiatives and individual performance.

Every organisation has a Strategy Execution Management “system”

…most don’t work and look something like this…

SEM Process

 

What does yours look like?

Target Operating Models

A recent project generated some new thinking in applying private sector target operating model concepts to a consumer protection focused public sector regulator subject to major change.  The top 5 lessons learned included:

  1. The customer value proposition through which a commercial strategy is operationalised must be considered in terms of the regulatory lifecycle; being the types of interactions that the regulator will have with the regulated community and the consumer.
  2. Strategy encompasses not only the governing regulations but also more importantly the way in which the regulations are to be applied.  It is this regulatory approach which is operationalised through the design of the target operating model and the regulator’s risk appetite and available resources.
  3. Think process not silo’d functions.  This is no different from a commercial TOM but the challenge is in how any new powers and the regulatory approach will be supported in a seamless way across the organisation and its boundaries.
  4. The relationships with other members of the regulatory family must also be considered and coordinated.
  5. Complete focus on protecting the interests of the consumer while fairly balancing the costs and impact on the regulated community.

Rules for the Conduct of Life

In a ceremony dating back to the 13th century, new Freeman of the City of London are presented with a Freedom certificate and a small red book of Rules for the Conduct of Life. The rules are for the use of “such Freemen of London as take apprentices”. Rule XXVI states that

“Where you are not able to finish a business without the help of others, call in speedily such persons to your assistance as are fit to be employed in it. The more hands are employed, the more work is done; provided they are managed in such good order as not to be a hindrance to one another.”

Regards

Jeff Herman


Execution Management vs. Performance Management

February 17, 2013

by Kelly Nelsen, Ph.D.

Performance management generally refers to measuring past performance and making an adjustment or two in order to increase performance next time. In the workplace, you perform to some standard, and your boss measures your performance to see if it met the standard.  Based upon the results of that measurement, you adjust your performance (or the standard) as necessary in order to meet it the next time around.  At its essence, it’s nothing more than an employee appraisal process that the human resources department typically owns.

Execution management is a bit different.  Execution is the act of doing something, and when you manage execution, you’re focused on managing an act rather than a result. That’s not to say that execution management is or should be about micro-management – far from it.  But shouldn’t management be about leading, guiding, and motivating people to greatness rather than simply judging them at the end?

Shouldn’t management be about leading, guiding, and motivating people to greatness rather than simply judging them at the end?

The Way Sports Teams Do It

Organizations usually set goals at the beginning of the year and then look at them again at the end of the year to see if they were met. Based upon this annual review, adjustments are then made for the coming year. But what if a football coach managed its players this way? The coach would set a goal at the beginning of the season to win 15 out of 16 games, let’s say, but only at the end of the season would he look back and discover that they only won six. That would be one sure way of getting fired as a coach, wouldn’t it? Instead, the players are coached throughout the game, and the game itself is reviewed in detail at its conclusion. This way, players can make adjustments as they go. Shouldn’t organizations work that way, too? Shouldn’t they practice execution management the same way that sports teams do?

Driven by Strategy

It’s not enough to manage the execution of individuals in an organization; rather, individuals’ activities need to be driven by the organization’s strategy and goals. Just as the individual football players’ activities are driven by the team’s, management’s, and owner’s goals, so must individual employees’ activities be driven by higher-level goals and strategies.

Unlike performance management, execution management is owned by senior executives. It starts with defining the strategy and continues with the execution of it. While the purpose of performance management is to determine how well employees are performing for succession planning, training, merit raises, and the like, the purpose of execution management is to successfully carry out the strategic plan in order to realize the organization’s vision. Because strategic plans are identified at the highest levels in an organization, execution management is the ultimate responsibility of the executive team. Performance management, on the other hand, is typically the ultimate responsibility of Human Resources.

If you want a system that merely looks at past performance of employees to see if they deserve a raise or a bonus, a simple performance measurement system will do. But if you want to manage the successful execution of your strategic plan, take a look at Keyne Insight’s strategy execution management system at http://www.keyneinsight.com.

Kelly Nelsen, Ph.D., is the CEO of Keyne Insight


Jethro- The First Management Consultant!

March 9, 2011

It should be no surprise that management consultants, looking to the bible for guidance and inspiration can take pride in Jethro.  Jethro was the father-in-law of Moses, and is arguably the first management consultant!

To wildly paraphrase Exodux 18,  Jethro counselled that Moses would  wear himself out if he continued trying to do everything himself.  He advised Moses not to sweat the small stuff, which should be delegated to men with the right qualities and motivations.  After being trained and shown what to do, such men should then be allowed to get on with the job; referring only the big issues to Moses.  Jethro also explained the benefits of this approach in Moses being able to live a long and happy life.

Arguably, not much has changed in the world of consulting over the past 5,000 years. Jethro’s consulting and mentoring skills  are as relevant today as they were at the time of Moses.   Jethro, correctly:

1. Observed the situation

“…Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening”

2. Recognised there was a  problem

“..what you are doing is not good.  You will surely wear away, both you and this people with you:  for this thing is too heavy for you and you are not able to do it alone”.

3. Recommended a solution

“ teach them ordinances and laws, and show them what to do and how to do it”

“find the best men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place these people in charge, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens”

4. Advised how to implement effectively and efficiently

“And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they shall judge..”

5. And explained the benefits

“so shall it be easier for you, and they shall bear the burden with you.”

I am sure that there is a lot more to learn from the bible, but in the world of management consulting has anything fundamentally changed since Jethro?


Build Businesses, not Hamburgers

March 21, 2010

 

Ray Kroc didn’t get rich selling McDonald’s hamburgers, he got rich selling franchises to other folks who got rich selling McDonald’s hamburgers.

Businesses that sell hamburgers have to be good at two very different things – making and selling hamburgers and building businesses that make and sell hamburgers. How often do we work with organisations that are good at making and selling things but not so good at building businesses?

Kroc found the secret to building the businesses and left it to the franchisees to make and sell the hamburgers. They didn’t have to be good at building their businesses because the franchise showed them exactly how to do it.

A franchise has a system. Without the system inherent in the franchise, neither Kroc nor his franchisees would have gotten rich.

Organizations need a culture of discipline – this means discipline in thought followed by discipline in execution – and both functions need systems for them to work.

Discipline in thought is most often represented by some form of business plan. Almost every organisation has one. But what about the discipline in execution? What about a system to make sure the plan is executed as the CEO thinks it should be executed?

And there’s the rub. While there are many planning systems around, until recently there was no such thing as a “strategy execution system”. This is a system that helps your clients build the business as well as making and selling the hamburgers. If you don’t have the execution system, you are playing Russian roulette with the results.

In recent years several “strategy execution systems” have appeared in the marketplace. Most of them are little more than automated personnel appraisal systems. They focus on employee competencies, not on corporate initiatives. This can be useful, but competencies are not enough – the CEO needs a way to focus on the organization’s strategic initiatives, not just on its employee competencies.

One strategy execution system we like (and we use in our practice), focuses explicitly on corporate initiatives, not on employee competencies. This is KeyneLink® http://www.keyneinsight.com.

KeyneLink is inexpensive because it is web-based, low risk because it is implemented in small bites and is implemented with experienced consultant/partners who know their clients’ business and their own.

KeyneLink helps the CEO to create the strategic initiatives, clarify and communicate them throughout the organization and make sure they are achieved in a way neither you nor he has ever seen before. If there is a more important job for the CEO to do, I’d like to know what it is.

It won’t help much with the hamburgers but it will help the CEO to build the business.

published with kind permission of Chris Jones – partner StrategyLink Consulting www.strategylinkconsulting.com


We forgot to manage the management

February 25, 2010

Click on link below for article by Mick James, the UK’s leading journalist on the consulting industry.  Mick expounds some thought provoking views on management along with a reference to execution management and Keynelink.

This article was originally published in Top-Consultant (www.top-consultant.com)

We forgot to manage the management


BlueNotes- our newsletters

February 25, 2010

Click on the links below to download our newsletters

BlueNotes-Spring2010 – Solvency II, School Building Lesson, Do Accountants Need Coaching?

BlueNote-Spring09 – Credit Crunch Edition

BlueNotes-2007 – Designing the future, stakeholder management

BlueNotes- 2006 – So you want to sleep at night


Strategy-Driven Execution Management

October 8, 2009

Blue-Plate Consulting has been appointed the first UK partner of Keyne Insight of Bloomington, Indiana, USA, for their KeyneLinkTM strategy-driven execution management system.

We’re delighted to be able to introduce KeyneLinkTM to the UK.  Our experience and numerous research studies show that around 80% of strategic initiatives under-deliver because of poor execution.  KeyneLinkTM is a unique, low-cost, web-based and easy to implement management system that bridges the gap between strategy and execution.

Superior strategy execution requires a system, not a series of diverse projects performed in different parts of the organization.  KeyneLinkTM enables management to define, monitor and manage individual responsibilities and accountabilities for execution at all levels throughout the organisation.

KeyneLinkTM is now being used by clients across private, public and voluntary sector organisations in North America, including the Department of Defense.


Catch Up? Coach Up!

April 30, 2009

To be the best, finance people need good coaching.

There are some areas where increasing performance demands are easier to see than others.  Take English soccer for example.  The Premier League is today regarded as the best in the world.  And increasing standards can be seen in the lower divisions too.  Watching a game last week in the Championship, the old second division, it was faster, more skilful and more entertaining than most top-tier games were 20 years ago.

It struck me that same is true of accounting and finance, though perhaps the changes are not so visible.  Accountants don’t have to juggle a ball like Ronaldo, but they do have to juggle increasingly complex sets of rules and regulations, systems and applications, technical tools and the like.  They don’t usually need the emotional resilience needed to come from 3-nil down at half-time to win on penalties, but it would be wrong to underestimate the stresses of working under constant and sometimes extreme time pressure, where errors can have serious consequences.  And now, more than ever, accountants need to be team players, able to contribute to the game plan and adjust it on the fly, to cover defence solidly, support attacks with flair and help control the game from midfield.

I don’t want to overwork the comparison, but there is a serious point here.  Football’s advances have been made with the support of increasing numbers of expert coaches focusing on every aspect of player performance: ball-play; physical strength and endurance; emotional and psychological strength; and team play and tactics.  Accountants have mostly had to do without such support.

A recent report from the ACCA shows that accountants are beginning to catch up, but still have some way to go.  Traditional forms of training are usually best for developing basic technical knowledge and skills.  But for a rising accountant, such core knowledge and skills are taken as read.  What is harder to teach in a classroom is how those skills can be applied creatively to solve complex, situation-specific challenges.  These challenges punctuate our well-controlled routines and test not only technical know-how, but often ethical, organisational and political skills too.  These are the situations where effective coaching can be most effective.  Traditionally, coaching has happened almost by accident, as a by-product of other interactions.  But conscious, skilled coaching can strengthen and accelerate learning and development, generate better decisions, and permanently raise the standard of performance of individuals and teams.

The challenges of developing emotional skill sets among accountants are famously, and not entirely without justification, judged considerable.  Let’s face it, we’re all, to some extent, congenital technocrats and not always comfortable with our own, never mind others’ emotions.  Yet it is almost impossible to succeed as a first-level supervisor, never mind as a senior manager, without developing good “people” skills, and these become more important, the more senior we become.  If the key to dealing well with others is to deal well with ourselves, this is where a different form of coaching is invaluable: one which accelerates and deepens our understanding of how we operate in given situations, and how we interact with our colleagues.

It is also increasingly the case that accountants have to be active team players, engaged with and contributing to all aspects of the business.  The FD cannot be “the one who says no”.  The challenge is to help make strategy possible by finding the best ways to finance new developments, manage the financial risks, and maximise the returns from existing business.  The current recession places even more emphasis on this role: there are enormous opportunities out there, but capturing them  will require real financial strength and ingenuity – the markets and the banks will no longer look kindly on proposals built on hopes and aspirations, or on clever manipulations.  And again, the challenges of getting accountants into this position are best met through skilled and experienced coaching.

If we expect finance people to perform at the highest level then, just like top-class footballers, they’re going to need expert coaching and development at all levels and covering all aspects of their game, and particularly for the emerging challenges in dealing more effectively both with people and relationships, and with roles that require them to be at the very heart of business strategy development and execution.  In my next pieces, I’ll follow-up with some thoughts on how best this can be achieved and, critically for us finance types, some thoughts on defining and measuring the benefits.

Gerry Quinn


Accountants the New Carbon Counters?

April 21, 2009

There Is No Accounting For Carbon

They are often patronisingly labelled bean counters by those who envy the charisma and exciting lifestyles of accountants.  However, carbon counter could become the new label as accountants face up to the challenge of accounting for sustainability in greenhouse gas emissions within their organisations’ management and financial reporting systems.

Unlike double-entry bookkeeping there are no agreed standards, disciplines, measures or policies for carbon counting, reporting and auditing.  As a result, corporate social responsibility and environmental reporting have become marketing opportunities for corporations to flaunt their green credentials without having any material impact on their business operations and competitive position.

Traditional financial reporting details the financial costs but not the associated carbon impacts.  The challenge for accountants is to devise the measures, mechanisms and disciplines to report upon the carbon impact of their organisation’s activities, for example:

  • If a $1m has been spent on travel, what has been the associated carbon emission impacts?
  • If a $1m is forecast to be spent on travel, how can the carbon impacts be mitigated?
  • How do we fully account for all the energy consumed in the production and delivery of a product or service across the whole end to end process?

More Than Just Accounting

Embedding in an organisation the ideas and practices of accounting for sustainability provides a broader challenge than just traditional just accounting.  The energy management aspects encompass a whole range of issues including:

  • Culture – real acceptance by the whole organisation that reducing climate change emissions is not only a public good and socially responsible, but can be compatible with longer term financial stability.  Day to day behaviours and decision making must be guided and informed by publicised standards of corporate ethics and beliefs in climate change sustainability.
  • Physical infrastructure – installation of the equipment to measure and mitigate climate change emissions.  This may encompass the replacement or scrapping of carbon and energy inefficient equipment, the installation of additional metering of energy usage, carbon sequestration and other post emission clean-up technologies.
  • Business case – development of a compelling strategic and financial rationale for any investment required to build the infrastructure and account for sustainability.  Being  cheap and dirty  may no longer be a sustainable business strategy for any organisation, including its suppliers.  The potential material up-front investment must be presented not only in financial terms, but also in a longer term strategic context encompassing the impacts on the organisation’s brand and values.  These non-financial considerations will also need to be expressed in a way that enables a fair evaluation alongside the traditional financial criteria and tools of hurdle rates, payback periods and discounted cash flows.
  • Management systems and processes – the formulation of energy management policies setting out the rationale and commitment to energy management, the objectives in terms of carbon reductions and an implementation plan.  Any such plan must also be supported by processes to monitor energy usage in order that timely management interventions can be made to reduce energy usage and minimise environmental impacts.
  • Financial management information – the development or enhancement of activity based costing systems to attribute the true financial and emission impacts of energy usage to the appropriate products and processes.
  • Procurement – organisational boundaries have become increasingly fuzzy as activities are outsourced and the supply network becomes more integrated in the whole process of product development and the delivery of customer value.  For an organisation to embark upon any programme to become climate change responsible, it must encompass the whole supply network and not get caught out by the inadvertent use of sweat shops and dirty chimneys.
  • Programme management – bringing about any change efficiently and effectively, especially one where the time span is likely to measured in years rather than months, requires a degree of forethought and planning.  The scope of change required to embed and operationalise an energy management policy cuts across an organisation’s functional silos.   A cross-discipline approach is therefore required,  where accountants, engineers, marketers and buyers will need to collaborate and talk a common language.

The Role of Consultants

Consultants, as part of an integrated team with in-house personnel, can play a pivotal role in kick-starting and facilitating the whole process of becoming more energy efficient by:

  • Designing the energy management programme by setting out the objectives, phases, activities, interdependencies, time-frames, roles and responsibilities required to bridge the gap between the current and future states.
  • Programme management to ensure that milestones are met, that activities are properly planned, resourced and carried out and the right balances are struck along the way.
  • Stakeholder management to ensure that all stakeholders are identified, engaged and their expectations actively managed.
  • Facilitating a collaborative and knowledge sharing work environment for those both directly and indirectly involved in the programme.
  • Providing technical expertise not only with regard to the mechanics and techniques of implementing an energy management policy, but also with regard to specific inputs that may be required with regard to, for example, new technologies, management processes and the development of energy management and accounting policies.

The Role of Accountants

An energy management policy can provide a unique opportunity for accountants to expand their influence by engaging with the disparate parts of their organisation in its development and implementation.  Such a policy, having the objective to improve the efficient use of energy consumption and reductions in emissions, will require the monitoring of performance measures and a strategy for interventions to manage the outcomes.   Although energy management is not a new concept, the emphasis has altered from a cost management perspective to one of greenhouse gas  emissions and social responsibility.  In addition, the challenge for accountants is to develop  the skills, competencies and a similar set of generally accepted disciplines and measures that enable greenhouse gas emissions to be accounted for in a way that is comparable with that used for more traditional accounting.