Alignment: Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies

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Most organizations consist of multiple business and support units, each populated by highly trained, experienced executives. But often the efforts of individual units are not coordinated, resulting in conflicts, lost opportunities, and diminished performance.

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton argue that the responsibility for this critical alignment lies with corporate headquarters. In this book, the authors apply their revolutionary Balanced Scorecard management system to corporate-level strategy, revealing how highly successful enterprises achieve powerful synergies by explicitly defining corporate headquarters’ role in setting, coordinating, and overseeing organizational strategy.

Based on extensive field research in organizations worldwide, Alignment shows how companies can build an enterprise-level Strategy Map and Balanced Scorecard that clearly articulate the “enterprise value proposition”: how the enterprise creates value above that achieved by individual business units operating alone. The book provides case studies, actionable frameworks, and sample scorecards that show how to align business and support units, boards of directors, and external partners with the corporate strategy and create a governance process that will ensure that alignment is sustained.

The next breakthrough in strategy execution from the field’s premier thinkers, Alignment shows how today’s companies can unlock unrealized value from enterprise synergies.

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Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Creating Corporate Synergies With the Balanced Scorecard
Business units must be coordinated if they want to save their company time and money. Alignment reduces waste, improves performance and increases opportunities, realizing the potential of a company that is lost when different units have conflicting goals. In Alignment, Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton describe the steps a company can take to correct the problem of internal and external misalignment. They believe that leaders at the top must take responsibility for organizational alignment. To help them do it, they use the step-by-step approach of the Balanced Scorecard management system to coordinate the implementation of corporate strategy.

Strategy Maps
In their first book together, The Balanced Scorecard, Kaplan and Norton introduced a new approach to measuring organizational performance and using that knowledge to manage strategy. Their next book, The Strategy-Focused Organization, detailed how companies can use the scorecard to guide their systems for managing the execution of strategy. In Strategy Maps, the authors expanded on the scorecard with a general framework for aligning processes, people and technology to the customer value proposition and shareholder objectives.

One of the authors' five key principles for aligning a company's measurement and management systems to strategy is aligning the organization to the strategy. In Alignment, the authors elaborate on this important principle by showing how diverse units under a single corporate umbrella can create more value than they could alone.

The authors make the point that the value creation that offsets administration costs must emerge from the alignment of decentralized units to create a new source of value. They call this "enterprise-derived" value. In Alignment, the authors present a way for company leaders to use the enterprise Strategy Map and Balanced Scorecard "to unlock previously unrealized value from enterprise synergies."

Alignment Matters
To demonstrate how the alignment of organizational units can improve performance, the authors cite numerous firms that have used the scorecard to capture enterprise-derived value. For example, they point out that Media General used the scorecard to align its diverse properties to a new strategy and saw its stock increase 85 percent more than that of its competitors over the next four years. By studying the corporate masters of alignment, the authors have discovered the secrets to successfully aligning financial and customer strategies, internal process and learning and growth strategies, support functions, boards and investors, and external partners.

The authors explain that organizational alignment is an explicit part of the management process. They write that the execution of strategy "requires the highest level of integration and teamwork among organizational units and processes." Management systems must have a clearly defined strategy at their core, the authors add, and all parts of the management process can be designed to create alignment.

According to the authors, alignment has the following four crucial components:

  1. Strategic Fit. This is the internal consistency of the activities that implement the unique parts of the strategy.
  2. Organization Alignment. This is how the various parts of a company synchronize their activities to create vital integration and synergy.
  3. Human Capital Alignment. This is achieved when employees' goals and incentives are aligned with the strategy.
  4. Alignment of Planning and Control Systems. This happens when management systems for planning, operations and control are linked to strategy.

By describing the experiences of the Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame companies that have demonstrated the successful execution of strategy, the authors provide valuable case studies that support their solutions to vexing leadership problems. All of them show that success depends on the successful alignment of the strategy, the organization, the employees and their management systems.

Why We Like This Book
The authors of Alignment have refined the Balanced Scorecard to provide an even deeper look at management processes that can help companies create additional corporate value by improving communication inside and outside the organization. The experiences of dozens of companies provide examples of the authors' system for aligning people and business units, and show companies how to improve their processes for executing strategy. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591396901
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 746,822
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Alignment : a source of economic value 1
2 Corporate strategy and structure : historical perspective 29
3 Aligning financial and customer strategies 43
4 Aligning internal process and learning and growth strategies : integrated strategic themes 77
5 Aligning support functions 119
6 Cascading : the process 169
7 Aligning boards and investors 193
8 Aligning external partners 221
9 Managing the alignment process 245
10 Total strategic alignment 259
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