In his article An Incomplete Education: How Not to Get Your Team Up To Speed on Business Performance Management, Craig Schiff, founder and CEO of the IT research analyst firm BPM Partners, raises some good points about improving the effectiveness and success rates applying enterprise performance management methodologies (e.g., strategy maps, dashboards, customer profitability analysis, rolling financial analysis, process improvement). I particularly like Craig’s observations about education and best practices.
My experience has been that organizations that are making superior progress implementing the full vision of the performance management framework keep improving through learning, experimenting, and behavioral change management. As many of you know, I am a big fan of rapid prototyping with iterative re-modeling methods in contast to long drawn out system implementations. Make your mistakes early and often, not later when it is costly to make changes.
However, I disagree with Craig’s criticism about business book authors (of which I am one). Craig states:
Another form of paid education is industry conferences. (But they) still have their shortcomings. … Many of these conferences feature noted authors … . On the surface this sounds great. The reality is a little different. The authors will usually share one main idea from their book and then encourage you to buy the book. Even if the book is given away free at the conference, it would have been much cheaper to just stay home and buy the book. While having your copy signed by the author at the conference may be exciting, it does little to increase its educational value.
Are business book authors so evil? Am I a bad person? Can you imagine my luck when in 1992 I accidentally fell into a situation where I became a book author. My first book of now six books was derived from a committee research report for a professional society that the institute liked enough to publish it as a book. That happenstance gave me the wings to write more. I apparently have a gift to talk to readers about what I see, and I have evidence that many people listen.
I am not alone as a book author on performance management. Look up my colleagues on Amazon.com. These include alphabetically David Axson, Nenshad Bardoliwalli (SAP), Frank Buytendijk (Oracle), Howard Dressner, Joey Fitts and Bruno Aziza (Microsoft), David Giannetto, Andy Neely and Bob Paladino. Other authors who have focused on managerial accounting and cost management include John Daly, Doug Hicks, John Miller, Steve Player, Bruce Pounder, Tom Pryor, and Peter Turney. I believe that all of these book author colleagues of mine would agree that our motive is not to “push” our books (the financial rewards are miniscule), but rather it is to educate and make performance management interesting to those who are interested. We as authors are interested too!
Perhaps I am being altruistic. In our defense, book publishers stringently evaluate book proposals. Few submitted are approved. Publishers like mine, John Wiley and Sons, consider two main factors when approving authors: (1) Marketability – is the author known in the market, authentic, and credible? And (2) Readabilty – can the author clearly express themselves and hold a reader’s attention and interest?
Craig’s contributions to the performance management community are exceptional. I simply did not want his critical remarks about book authors to be unchallenged.