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problems and create value in never imagined ways. Regardless of industry or type of organization, teamwork has emerged as a musthave characteristic of winning enterprises in today s business environment. As an example, consider these three fields of endeavor: heart surgery, Wall Street research analysis, and basketball as played by the well-compensated superstars of the National Basketball Association (NBA). At first glance they appear to have absolutely nothing in common; however, studies reveal that success in all three is markedly improved through the use of teamwork: surgeon interactions with other medical professionals (anesthesiologists, nurses, and technicians) is the strongest indicator of patient success on the operating table. When it comes to Wall Street stars it is not the individual analysts and their erudite calculations that spell success, but the teaming of analyst and firm. Even in the NBA researchers have found that teams on which players stay together longer win more games.6 Our traditional financial measurement systems have no way to calculate the true value or cost of these relationships. Sacrifice long-term thinking. Many change programs feature severe costcutting measures that may have a very positive impact on the organization s short-term financial statements. However, these cost reduction efforts often target the long-term value-creating activities of the firm such as research and development, associate development, and customer relationship management. This focus on short-term gains at the expense of long-term value creation may lead to sub-optimization of the organization s resources. Interestingly, an emerging body of evidence is beginning to suggest that cost-cutting interventions such as downsizing frequently fail to deliver the promised financial rewards and in fact sabotage value. University of Colorado Business School professor Wayne Cascio documented that downsizing not only hurts workers who are laid off, but destroys value in the long term. He found that, all else being equal, downsizing never improved profits or stock market returns.7 Financial measures are not relevant to many levels of the organization. Financial reports by their very nature are abstractions. Abstraction in this context is defined as moving to another level leaving certain characteristics out. When we roll up financial statements throughout
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chapter 5
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it performance management
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the organization that is exactly what we are doing compiling information at a higher and higher level until it is almost unrecognizable and useless in the decision making of most managers and employees. Employees at all levels of the organization need performance data they can act on. This information must be imbued with relevance for their day-to-day activities. Given the limitations of financial measures, should we even consider saving a space for them in our Balanced Scorecard With their inherent focus on short-term results, often at the expense of long-term valuecreating activities, are they relevant in today s environment I believe the answer is yes for a number of reasons. As the name implies, the Balanced Scorecard is just that: balanced. An undue focus on any particular area of measurement often leads to poor overall results. Precedents in the business world support this position. In the 1980s the focus was on productivity improvement, whereas in the 1990s quality became fashionable and seemingly essential to an organization s success. In keeping with the principle of what gets measured gets done, many businesses saw tremendous improvements in productivity and quality. What they didn t necessarily see was a corresponding improvement in financial results, and in fact some companies with the best quality in their industry failed to remain in business. Financial metrics will remain an important tool for organizations because they ultimately determine whether improvements in customer satisfaction, quality, innovation, and employee training are leading to improved financial performance, whether that is judged by cost containment (often used by support functions such as IT), revenue growth, or ultimately, shareholder value. The Rising Prominence of Intangible Assets What a difference fifty years can make. Writing in the Harvard Business Review back in 1957, Harvard professor Malcolm P. McNair had this to say about organizations paying excess attention to their people: Too much emphasis on human relations encourages people to feel sorry for themselves, makes it easier for them to slough off responsibility, to find excuses for failure, to act like children. 8 Can you imagine the reaction business leaders would have to this quote if it were uttered today What was your reaction If you are like most you would probably completely disagree with
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