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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


When Will Star Wars Performance Management Arrive?

Posted almost 11 years ago

Let’s get a bit wild and imagine way out into the future about how a truly futuristic enterprise performance management (PM) framework might operate. (If you are impatient to read my blog on this, then go directly to the bottom and click on the link to the video. After viewing, hopefully then read this blog.)

Before we let our imaginations take off, we first need to agree on what an enterprise performance management framework is. I will stick with my long-established definition that PM is much broader than its typical description as a CFO initiative of better financial reporting with a bunch of dashboard dials. (As proof I have remained consistent, an in-depth description of PM is in my March, 2005 Corporate Performance Management – Myth or Reality?)

“Performance Management is the integration of multiple methodologies with each embedded with business analytics, such as segmentation analysis, and especially predictive analytics … to achieve the strategy and to make better decisions.”

A key part of this PM definition is the last words – to make better decisions. Ultimately we all need to understand and accept that good execution of an executive team’s strategy and its plans are the consequence of thousands of daily decisions made by employees at all levels in an organization. Today employees base these decisions on the limited information they have and often with their own self-interest or self-interest of the so-called silo department or process they work in. There can be conflict when decisions are not the best based because (1) the employee is unsure if they have the authority to make a type of decision, and (2) employee actions are not aligned with the strategic objectives formulated and constantly adjusted by the executive team.

A powerful lever for strategy execution is clarifying decision rights. As organizations grow in size, the approval process gets complex and foggy. Employees become unsure where one person’s accountability begins and another’s ends. Work-arounds then subvert formal hierarchical reporting relationships. Clarifying who has what decision-making authority and empowering decentralized decisions lower into the organization brings mission-critical agility .

Now to the future. As decision making becomes more decentralized and is delegated deep down to every individual employee, how can technology be harnessed to aid employees to quickly perform research and make the increasing need to make speedy decisions? Will they go their hand-held smart phone that is increasingly becoming computer-like? Maybe, but it is clumsy to do a Google search with a smart phone and tough on the eyesight as well. And each employee’s smart phone may not be tailored with rule-based decision making tailored to your organization and constantly changing conditions.

Watch this 8 minute Sixth Sense video of Patti Maes, a researcher of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology laboratory. (Think Tom Cruise in the movie “Minority Report.”) The video demonstrates examples for consumers. Shift your thinking to how employees could apply the same future technology for enterprise performance management.

I have examples I can think of. What are yours?

Comments (2)

Paul Niven
Paul Niven
Performance Management Expert

Hi Gary,

Provocative article and thanks for the link to the MIT research, which was fascinating. I encourage everyone to watch it and, as Gary suggests, think of the applications for decision-making in businesses. Great stuff.

Posted almost 11 years ago | permalink
Gary Cokins
Gary Cokins
Founder and CEO - Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC


My article above is futuristic, especially the MIT video. Organizations have such a long way to go to even position themselves for the vision I describe in my article.

What is important in this “era” is to gain competency in simply determining what to measure and cascade those measures downward (measures with targets obviously aligned with high correlation to the strategy), and link the measures with incentives of some type. The material that you, Stacey, Frank, and others provide is invaluable, in my mind, to raise these necessary competencies.

Admittedly, my employer SAS is a software vendor who sells strategy map, scorecard, and dashboard tools. But they are only enablers and of less value if the learnings from you and other KPI thought leaders is missing. As has been said, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”


Posted almost 11 years ago | permalink

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