Summit of the Americas 2010 in Review

Before I begin, I would like to share my impressions of the 2009 summit– one year later:  the strike!  I arrived in San Francisco late at night and was greeted by striking hotel workers (and I don’t mean “good looking”).  They were banging drums, blowing horns, and shouting through bullhorns into the wee hours of the morning.  A year later, and I remember the atmosphere more than the conference itself!

This year’s event was held in Torrey Pines, in La Jolla.  There were no strikers.  And for that I am thankful.  The hotel had ocean views that were just far enough away that they did not detract from the reason for holding the event:  performance management.

So what was new this year?  For starters, this was better-attended than last year’s event.  Hopefully this is a positive sign that the economy is improving.  As for the message, risk continues to be integrated into the overall Balanced Scorecard framework.  Had I known better, I might have thought that Kaplan was presenting a high level specification for how Corporater EPM Suite works.  He covered the heat map that displayed probability and consequence (and even multiplied the figures to provide a risk factor for prioritization).  He also discussed linking the risks to objectives, and identifying actions/initiatives to eliminate, reduce, or transfer risk.  Overall, this message isn’t particularly new.  Risk has been a hot topic in recent years– perhaps related to the financial industry’s situation.

What was maybe “more new” is the inclusion of operational dashboards as part of the management meeting process.  I have seen this in businesses for years.  It appears to me that despite all the careful categorization and alignment of goals and objectives to strategy, there are always legacy reporting needs that didn’t really fit in, or there are simply operational reporting needs that are simply too critical to push off into the strategy-focused management processes.  Now it has an official role.  As explained by Kaplan, the operational review process occurs with greater frequency (daily, twice weekly, weekly) while the strategy review meetings (guided by balanced scorecards) occur monthly.  Operational reviews tend to be more departmental or functional in their focus, while the strategy review meetings cross functional lines or include multiple business units.

Like much of performance management methodology, this complies with common sense.   But like common sense, sometimes it is not as common as it could or should be.   As for the case studies that I reportedly enjoy so much, Volkswagon Brazil wins my prize for offering very compelling (and very measurable) results from their Balanced Scorecard.  From 2006 to 2009 they increased revenue by 41.7%, which is astounding given the global financial crisis, and Brazil’s localized instability during the early part of the new century.


Eric Peterson

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