A Strategy Map and Balanced Scorecard for Public Policy Advocacy

If you’ve read my five-part series on management methodologies you know that strategy maps and balanced scorecards are two sides of the same methodological coin. Both look at business objectives and metrics across the same four perspectives, with associated objectives and metrics.

Here is a generic strategy map based on some real-world maps I have developed over the years for a number of government and nonprofit clients:

If you’d like more background you can read the original 1992 Harvard Business Review article by Kaplan and Norton that launched the balanced scorecard methodology for a general background. Their 2010 working paper has a deeper dive, and the Balanced Scorecard Institute has a nice four-page overview of applying it to government. I’ve previously posted an example strategy map for a health care clinic, and here I will briefly discuss applying the methodology to a nonprofit public policy advocacy organization.

Strategy maps were actually developed by Kaplan and Norton after the balanced scorecard. Maps and scorecards are really very similar: the scorecard presents objectives and measures across the four perspectives in a tabular format, often with target and actual performance displayed for management purposes, and sometimes with a column for initiatives to indicate supporting projects. However, I like to start with the map because it emphasizes the visual representation of how the organization creates value.

Strategy maps present the same information as the scorecard in more of a flowchart style, usually with arrows indicating cause-and-effect. This makes the map less effective as a scorecard, and in fact it usually is not used to display any performance data. To reiterate, what it does very well is show how an organization creates and measures value. Strategy maps are visually easy to digest, and encourage and enable thinking about relationships between objectives and ideas for altering the status quo.

You can see very quickly how vision, mission, and values are supported through objectives and measures across the four perspectives. For each objective I’ve added a process map reference, because the strategy map will ideally cascade down to process maps, checklists, workflow automation, and data analytics.

Ideally you could flip the printed strategy map over, and there would be your balanced scorecard with current performance data, something like this:

The circular symbols down the right-hand edge of the page would indicate at a glance whether performance was good, bad, or somewhere in between.

You can display quite a bit of information on a single front-and-back sheet of paper, and the format is powerful for communicating both internally and externally. Hopefully with a bit of study you can adapt these examples for your own organization, and the process of construction will provoke some useful strategic conversations.