Hi guys,

I am a student currently studying management, i am glad I found this website dedicated to management, I am sure there are a lot of expert here that may hopefully help a novice out.

My question is about strategic planning and strategy maps, and how they fit together, I have read my textbook fairly throughly and have also read up on and watched tutorials on YouTube on how strategy map works.

I kind of understand how strategy map and the scorecard work in a vaccum, well at the very least the idea of cause and effect, but I am not really sure how it fits in to the overall process of strategic planning, it doesn't help that the different sources seems to use different terminology to describe things, like how the textbook would use objectives and goal interchangeably while, some other article may define them to be completely seperate and different things, which really adds to the confusion.

my attempt at creating a strategy map often starts with the mission, vision, and everything becomes a blur from then onwards.

According to my understanding of the Kaplan and Nortan article on balance score card, you are suppose to formulate strategies before creating the scorecards, this raises two questions I have been grappling with.

1. Is the strategy map a description of each individual strategy? What I mean is would you need draw a new strategy map for each strategy? Or Is the strategy map a description all of the goals the organisation needs to achieve, but simply plug the relevant strategy in to one of the four categories? Like for example if one of your strategy is producing a product with better quality than your competitor, you then write it down in the "process" portion of the scorecards and then create goals that branches off from there.

2. Is "satisfying shareholder expectations" the be all and end all goal of the financial portions of the scorecard? I know this seems like a strange question since all organisations strive to achieve shareholder expectations, most commonly in improved profits, but as a formality I suppose, all goals have a source, be it in the mission or vision, so where exactly is the source of "profit improvement" goal? Does it need to be defined in the mission, vision or strategy? Or is it something always included in the financial portion of the scorecard?

Perhapes I may have a fundamental misundrstanding of what a strategy map actually is, if so, I do apologies, at this point I'm not even sure I am asking the right questions, but if anyone is able to help me clear the confusion surrounding how the strategy map works and how it is generated from the strategic planning process, i would greatly appreciated, thank you.

mtrowley's picture


The issue with talking about strategy in terms of maps/plans/scorecards is it gets a bit abstract to talk about on their own.

I would suggest first thinking what a strategy is? It's basically a sequence of steps to get to an end goal. So in reality, you could think of it as a huge project really e.g. To grow X company by 20% by 2020. 

So, you have a goal to grow by 20%. What are the ways to do this? This is where you ideate. Think of all the things you could do. For example, you could sell your product in other countries. You could diversify and sell different products.

If you decide that the best way is to diversify, how are you going to do this? What people will you need? what infrastructure will you need? What will the products be? Do you have IT system in place to deal with this stuff?

When you have a 'To-do' list for your chosen strategy. It's likely that you aren't going to be too sure how you are going to get there, but you have a good list of questions. For example 'Review IT Infrastructure' 'Develop operating model for new products' etc.

Once you have this information, you then use the strategy maps. All these strategy maps are then used for, are to communicate to others What the strategy is, and what is required to get there - basically a really high level plan for the business.

I personally don't rate strategy maps as I think they are pretty confusing for people. I think Target Operating Models (TOM) are a little more effective, as you can say to a business "You work like this now, in the future, you will work like this instead"

Hope some of that makes sense!



mtrowley's picture

As a PS, it might be worth mentioning that balance scorecards and strategy maps are often used as a way to say 'Hey guys, I've thought about this from lots of different angles'.

So, if you create your strategy (by thinking about it like a project, then you fill in your scorecard, but some important bits are missing, then you can go back and check your strategy to see how you can fill those bits in.