Improving Business Process

One of the more challenge aspects of developing an orgainzational scorecard along the lines of the Balanced Scorecard (see posting on Balanced Scorecard) is how to set goals and metrics around improving business process. Here are several measure categories that might help you.

Simplification: this measure focuses on making production easier. It may or may not improve quality or achieve any of the other measures below, but at the very least, simplification should not decrease benefits to customers.

Cost-savings: this measure focuses on changing processes or introducing new ways of doing things that save money. Cost savings can either reduce our cost to revenue ratios or the monies saved can be reapplied to other activities.

Time-savings: this measure focuses on changing processes or introducing new ways of doing things that save time and allows time to be devoted elsewhere.

Quality Improvement: this measure focuses on identifying changes in processes and systems that result in a better product and service. Such changes may or may not meet any of the other criteria. In fact, a quality improving innovation could at times involve, for example, spending more time and/or money if doing so sufficiently increases product value to customers.

Problem Solving: this measure focuses on solving problems or issues that impact negatively on production and delivery of services. This measure could very well relate to the others listed here, but could also address barriers or issues that are separate from the others herein – for example, addressing a security or safety concern.

Decreasing Risk: this measure focuses on making changes that decrease risk to the organization and/or employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Learning Learning

Trouble viewing the video here, see it on YouTube 

One key to organizational success has to do with the capacity of people to learn — learn from mistakes as well as learn from successes. The call for organizational learning has escalated over the years ever since our culture and economy transitioned from a “we make things” focus to what is called a “knowledge society.”

Today, knowledge workers are highly valued as you know, but the real asset of a knowledge worker goes far beyond what she or he “knows”. Simply put, no one can hold all of the knowledge they need to do what they do today, much less tomorrow.

The strongest asset of a knowledge worker is her/his ability to figure things out, find information, gain knowledge, as well as transform experience into knowledge. This means three things to me.

First, the knowledge worker has to excel at investigation (using her/his networks, tools, etc.)

Second, because of the pace of change, he/she must have a high tolerance for ambiguity. Aristotle once said something like: the more you know, the more you realize how much more there is to know. Another way of saying that is: the more you know, the more you realize just how much more there is for you to learn. It is ironic perhaps, but those who are knowledgeable are likely more aware of their limitations than those who are less ambitious about gaining knowledge.

Third, to truly grow in knowledge, one has to be able to accept that they aren’t as knowledgeable as they can be or should be. In other words, you have to be self-critical, able to identify your “weak” areas, and be okay with not being as good today as you can be tomorrow.

Fundamentally, there are three categories of learning that help us grow our knowledge. These categories are: single loop learning, double loop learning and triple loop learning.Continue reading “Learning Learning”

Build Your Own Social Network

While many organizations are setting up Facebook and MySpace pages, such social networking sites pose a number of challenges for you. First, if you read the fine print, such services will often claim that they can use your materials for any reason you wish. You may not want that.

Second, your purpose may not lend itself well to the “openness” of Facebook or MySpace. For example, if you want a social network for your donors, or a particular customer segment, how would you manage who can join your network, given that anyone in the world can be a member of Facebook or MySpace?

Third,  you may want to customize your own social network in ways that Facebook et al do not allow.

So, what’s the alternative?

Well… build your own.

I have created a sample of what you can do using as the social network platform. I did this at no cost, though as you will see the free version includes some advertising along the right hand side of the network page. However you can get rid of the advertising for a very low monthly fee.

I encourage you to check out the SAMPLE I have created to get a good idea about what you can do. Click on all the menu items. And join it so you can see what the membership process is like.

The network I created is called Collaborate for Success and who knows, if you like what you see and join, we might just move it from a sample site to a real social network!


Measuring Results

Everyone wants to do this. And everyone in the evaluation business has something to say about how to do it. So why not us too!

We believe the evaluation of results is less complicated than organizations make it. Of course, we know from experience that often evaluating our work is made cumbersome by funders and regulators, but for now let’s pretend they are not in the mix.

Here is how we approach the evaluation of results. We start with some simple questions.

1. What are you trying to accomplish for which people?
2. What are the measures that guide your work with these people?
3. What is the current benchmark of each of those measures?
4. What are your goals about surpassing the benchmark over what period of time?
5. What will indicate progress toward your goals?
6. What will you do to achieve the goals (strategies and actions) over what period of time?

Example: Answering the questions
To offer some clarity, let’s answer the questions above for a neighborhood-based employment program.
Continue reading “Measuring Results”

Wiki wiki what?

A wiki is a website that allows visitors to add, remove, edit and change content. It also allows for linking among any number of pages. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring. The term wiki also can refer to the collaborative software itself (wiki engine) that facilitates the operation of such a site, or to certain specific wiki sites, including the computer science site (the original wiki) WikiWikiWeb and online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia. (source: Wikipedia)

First of all, you can develop a “wiki” web site for free. Even the paid services are pretty cheap.

Second, it’s easy to learn and do.

Third, you can use wiki technology to collaborate with colleagues located anywhere. Imagine collaborating on a document. You all sign in and can change the document right then and there, together. Everyone sees the changes in real time (real time = “right away!”)

Fourth, you can use wiki to create public sites (like Wikipedia). Such sites allow anyone and everyone to participate in the site, offering their opinions, ideas, reactions, etc.

You can get a free wiki account at 

Before you do that, check out the brief presentation wikispaces offers. Click here.

Innovation is intentional change

Organizational innovation calls for the players to understand and affirm the vision and direction of the organization. They need to be able to identify, recognize, and decide upon vision relevant opportunities and challenges. 

To innovate effective, the organization should be intentional, objective or goal oriented, and be able to create and sustain momentum to achieve the objective.

 The attributes of an innovative environment…

  • There is an inspirational mission and vision embraced by all and that serves at the heart of organizational planning, execution, evaluation, and innovation.
  • The organization understands that innovation involves risk and failure. The environment is tolerant of risk and not only affirms and celebrates innovative successes, it also affirms and learns from innovative attempts that did not work. This latter point is crucial. If the organization is truly committed to, and engaged in, innovation practices, it knows there will be failures. The point is always to at least “fail forward.”
  • There are rewards for innovations.
  • The organization ensures there is time to innovative, to “incubate” ideas, to pilot possibilities.
  • The organization is intentional about the information it collects and disseminates to ensure information helps evaluate performance as well as inform strategic thinking.
  • There are meaningful relationships with customers, other organizations that complement one’s mission and vision, and with competitors.

Quote of the Day

A company can’t will itself to be agile. Agility is an emergent property that appears when an organization has the right mindset, the right skills, and the ability to multiply those skills through collaboration. To count agility as a core competence, you have to embed it into the culture. You have to encourage an enterprisewide appetite for radical ideas. You have to keep the company in a constant state of inventiveness. It’s one thing to inject a company with inventiveness. It’s another thing to build a company on inventiveness.

To organize for agility, your company needs to develop a “designful mind.” A designful mind confers the ability to invent the widest range of solutions for the wicked problems now facing your company, your industry, and your world.

-Marty Neumeier, Designing the Future of Business

The Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard was developed by Norton and Kaplan. It focuses on identifying global measures in four quadrants of organizational activity, which are used to assess past performance, monitor current performance, and the extent to which current performance optimally positions an organization for future success.

These quadrants represent “perspectives” on performance from the viewpoint of the Customer(s), Internal Business Processes, Finance, and Learning and Growth.

More than an evaluation tool, the Balanced Scorecard provides the organization with a strategic management touchstone that informs business planning, identifies performance strengths and shortcomings, frames action and implementation plans, and provides the Board of Directors with a high level governance resource to policy development and strategic discussions.

The Scorecard also provides the organization with a global perspective of performance that can be used in the development of accountability focused employee appraisals.

24 reasons’ Mark Holmgren has led the development of organizatonal scorecards for two major charities and has also performed numerous evaluations for various non profits over the years. For more information, contact Mark at here: email.

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