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Gary Cokins
Gary Cokins
Founder and CEO - Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC

Analytics-Based Performance Managent LLC
Manager, Performance Management Solutions


Am I a Realist or a Dreamer?

Posted over 10 years ago

When I write about enterprise performance management I waver between being realistic about what organizations are actually doing with performance management methodologies and being idealistically visionary about what they may be able to do with them in the future. Is this so wrong?

When I am a realist I like to describe organizations that have successfully implemented systems, such as profitability and cost reporting systems using activity-based costing principles or strategy map and balanced scorecard systems.

When I am a dreamer I like to imagine being in the future and looking back on today such as I described in articles I have written such as Performance Management from C-Suite Future Diaries and A Company’s Time Capsule.

I ponder however if as a dreamer I might be excessively idealistic. That is, I worry that I may be too naïve about the willpower and caring that individuals might have to improve their organization’s performance. For example, not all executive teams may recognize the shortcomings that come when their managers and employees to do not understand the executive’s strategy. This is essential for good strategy execution. Not all CFOs might appreciate the importance of applying analytics imbedded in their accounting and business systems. (For more on this, read my SAS blog From Bean Counter to Bean Analyzer.)

As a dreamer I envision an enterprise performance system as the seamless integration of multiple methodologies with each one embedded with business analytics, such as segmentation analysis, and especially predictive analytics, with their collective purpose to achieve the executive team’s strategy and to facilitate better decisions. As a realist I recognize the cultural and social behavioral barriers that limit an organization’s capability to separately implement two or more performance management methodologies and the further challenge to integrate them and embed analytics in each methodology. For my views on this, read my article We’re Down Here that describes the frustration managers and employee teams have with their executives.

A realist is viewed as pragmatic. A dreamer might be viewed as delusional. However, when I observe the apprehension of some realist executive teams to adopt enterprise performance management methodologies, I wonder if it is they who are delusional. This is because they appear to me to be sticking with the status quo and presuming it works best. Good leaders, in my mind, are visionaries who strive to convert their dreams into realities.

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