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Does your business need a strategy map?

Ian Dyason. 20 Feb 2021

map and compass
All businesses need a strategy map to help find their way to greater value

I am not a betting man, but I'll wager that you have not heard the term "strategy map" being bandied around these past few years, have you? This was all the rage in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the balanced scorecard, or BSC, was creating waves. The BSC was developed by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton and is a visual representation of how a business will operate in a cause-and-effect manner. There are usually four perspectives, each impacting the other until they reach a strategic focus for the business or organisation. The four perspectives are usually Learning & Growth, Processes, Customer and Financial (or Value). Within each perspective are three or four strategic objectives that when are increased or improved upon, will cause the increase or improvement of the next perspective. For example, increasing our organisational capability or capacity will cause us to improve processes. Improving processes will impact, and cause to improve, customer relationships. And improving customer relationships can cause us to improve the financial (or value) position of a business. This relationship is shown here

Ultimately, all businesses exist to improve their financial position or shareholder value. Hence, understanding the inputs or drivers of each perspective will help a company focus on the right things, and not just on doing things right, so as to build better financial or value positions. So, if you have not heard of the strategy map, or you have not built your own BSC, perhaps it is time for you to spend some time doing that? Perhaps you will realise that this is the ONLY thing you should be focussing on right now! Following are the steps you can take to build your own strategy map and balanced scorecard. (You can also check out BCI's Nine Step process here

Begin with your vision

It may seem passé, but you need to start with your vision. I am sure you have not seen your vision statement ever since you went to some strategy offsite, so that it can be plastered onto your website. Actually, your vision statement is very important because it provides everyone who interacts with your company a sense of what you are working towards. For example, our vision statement is:

"To empower all businesses and individuals for growth"

This allows everyone to understand what you are doing, where you are doing it, and why you are doing what you are doing. The reason why we start with your vision is because if you don't really know your own raison d'être, then anything goes. And if that is the case, then, you really don't need a strategy map. So for now, revisit your vision statement, and see if it still works. If it is still valid, and still gives you the sense and direction of your business, then it is time to move to the next step. But if it does not give you that sense of motivation, drive and excitement, you should spend time to get that done before moving on.

Update your mission

While your vision is the reason for your business, and hence does not change much, your mission can change over time. The mission is your current plan to achieve your vision. It is useful to revisit your mission every 2 to 3 years. This week we celebrate our 5th birthday. And our mission is

"To be the Number One service provider for the growth mindset and its set of programs in all the countries we are in."

We are currently not there. But we are getting there.

What about you? What is your mission? How is that linked to your vision? Is it still valid? If you have also not looked at your mission over the past one year, I suggest to take a peek at it. You might be surprised by what it says, or does not say. After all, 2020 was a terrible year for all of us, and it certainly has impacted many businesses' mission. Maybe it has yours?

Identify your strategic themes

You can think of the strategic theme as your focus. You cannot do everything you want to achieve your mission and you don't have to. You should focus on the key areas of execution that will allow you to get a jump on its success. Remember the Pareto Principle? 80/20? Well, this is the 20% focus that will allow you to see 80% of what you want to achieve.

For us, Internationalisation is a key focus. While Singapore is where we were born, we don't need to remain there, and neither should we. Singapore is too small as a market to allow us to survive. Hence