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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Organizational Cartography of the Highest Order
Kaplan and Norton co-authored an article which was published in the Harvard Business Review (January/February 1992). In it they introduce an exciting new concept: the balanced scorecard. They have since published three books: this one, preceded by The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action (1996) and The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard...
Published on June 3, 2004 by Robert Morris

versus
201 of 209 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing -- this should have stopped at an HBR article
While the strategy map examples are helpful, this book is definately not worth the money nor the time to read it. Instead I recommend reading K&N's articles in the Harvard Business Review as you will get everything that you need -- do not bother with the book. And here is why:
First, the book is very repetitive and while there are many examples of the strategy...
Published on February 23, 2004 by Mark P. McDonald


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201 of 209 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing -- this should have stopped at an HBR article, February 23, 2004
By 
Mark P. McDonald (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
While the strategy map examples are helpful, this book is definately not worth the money nor the time to read it. Instead I recommend reading K&N's articles in the Harvard Business Review as you will get everything that you need -- do not bother with the book. And here is why:
First, the book is very repetitive and while there are many examples of the strategy maps the distinctions between them are not always very apprent so if you have seen a strategy map you have by in large seen them all.
Second, I believe that K&N did not write the book, rather it was put together by a ghost writer who borrowed just about every consulting phrase or description I have read in other books. Comments regarding things like the supply chain tend toward being so simplistic that they damage the credibility of the authors. I do not think we get an idea of what K&N think, rather than a ghost writer.
Third, the strategy map does not address key issues associated with strategy deployment and management. The treatment of Information Technology is more akin to a 1970's view of technology than what companies are doing now. The structure, while supportive of the balance scorecard, does not provide a map on how you get from where you are to where you want to be.
So take a big pass on this book, read the Harvard Business Review articles as they are much better and give you all you need to know. It is a shame since K&N's other work has been very powerful and influential.
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108 of 116 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and a rehash, March 15, 2004
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
I was extremely disappointed by this book.

My most serious concern was the failure of the authors to cite John Thorpe's "The Information Paradox: Realizing the Business Benefits of Information Technology". Results Chains were first developed in the late 80s and early 90s by DMR Consulting and Fujitsu Consulting. Basically, Strategy Maps are simplified Result Chains with a Balance Scorecard flavor. Harvard professors MUST do a review of the literature BEFORE they publish.
This is important because a Results Chain avoids 3 problems that will bedevil Strategy Map users.
1) A Results Chain is more much explicit about the role that assumptions play in achieving business outcomes. Assumptions are either statements about uncertainty (e.g. price is an important criteria for customers) or they are things that are outside of your control (e.g. a competitor will not enter this market). Strategy Maps DO NOT talk about risks or assumptions. This is bizarre.
2) The book continually mixs up inputs, outputs (from internal processes), and outcomes. (Osborne's "Reinventing Government" has a nice appendix about the differences.) It is not clear whether the elements on the Strategy Maps are actions to be taken or the results of these actions.
The failure to understand these distinctions will cause confusion down the road.
3) Results Chains are much more explicit about the contributions that one element plays in achieving business outcomes. In contrast, all the Strategy Maps have many-to-many relationships.
What will happen if the benefits are not achieved? How are you going to do any kind of root-cause analysis with a Strategy Map?
As the other reviewers have noted, the Strategy Maps in the book are very generic. This may provide a starting point for developing your own Results Chain.
Take a look at Thorpe's book.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Organizational Cartography of the Highest Order, June 3, 2004
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
Kaplan and Norton co-authored an article which was published in the Harvard Business Review (January/February 1992). In it they introduce an exciting new concept: the balanced scorecard. They have since published three books: this one, preceded by The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action (1996) and The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment (2000). Here's some background on the two books before we shift our attention to Strategy Maps.

In The Balanced Scorecard, as Kaplan and Norton explain in their Preface, "the Balanced Scorecard evolved from an improved measurement system to an improved management system." The distinction is critically important to understanding this book. Senior executives in various companies have used the Balanced Scorecard as the central organizing framework for important managerial processes such as individual and team goal setting, compensation, resource allocation, budgeting and planning, and strategic feedback and learning. When writing this book, it was the authors' hope that the observations they share would help more executives to launch and implement Balanced Scorecard programs in their organizations.

Then in The Strategy-Focused Organization, Kaplan and Norton note that, according to an abundance of research data, only 5% of the workforce understand their company's strategy, that only 25% of managers have incentives linked to strategy, that 60% of organizations don't link budgets to strategy, and 85% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy. These and other research findings help to explain why Kaplan and Norton believe so strongly in the power of the Balanced Scorecard. As they suggest, it provides "the central organizing framework for important managerial processes such as individual and team goal setting, compensation, resource allocation, budgeting and planning, and strategic feedback and learning." After rigorous and extensive research of their own, obtained while working closely with several dozen different organizations, Kaplan and Norton observed five common principles of a Strategy-Focused Organization:

1. Translate the strategy to operational terms

2. Align the organization to the strategy

3. Make strategy everyone's job

4. Make strategy a continual process

5. Mobilize change through executive leadership

The first four principles focus on the the Balanced Scorecard tool, framework, and supporting resources; the importance of the fifth principle is self-evident. "With a Balanced Scorecard that tells the story of the strategy, we now have a reliable foundation for the design of a management system to create Strategy-Focused Organizations."

Those who have not as yet read The Balanced Scorecard and/or The Strategy-Focused Organization are strong urged to do so. Brief comments about them in commentaries such as these merely indicate the nature and extent of the brilliant thinking which Kaplan and Norton provide in each.

What we have in Strategy Maps are two separate but related components: Further development and refinement of core concepts introduced in the earlier two books, and, a rigorous examination of new ideas and new applications by which to convert intangible assets into tangible outcomes. In the Introduction, Kaplan and Norton explain that their direct involvement with more than 300 organizations provided them with an extensive database of strategies, strategy maps, and balanced scorecards. This abundance of material has revealed a number of strategies and tactics by which literally any organization (regardless of size or nature) can create and then increase value. The strategies and tactics are embraced within three targeted approaches for aligning intangible assets to strategy:

"1. Strategic job families that align human capital to the strategic themes

2. The strategic IT portfolio that aligns information capital to the strategic themes

3. An organization change agenda that integrates and aligns organizational capital for continued learning and improvement in the strategic themes."

Kaplan and Norton carefully organize their material within five Parts. I presume to suggest that Part I be read and then re-read before proceeding to Value-Creating Processes, Intangible Assets, and Building Strategies and Strategy Maps. Part Five provides a number of case files generated by private-sector, public-sector, and nonprofit organizations. In fact, I strongly suggest that Chapter 2 be re-read several times because it offers an invaluable primer on strategy maps. When reading and then re-reading Chapter 2, be sure to check back on Figure 1-2 (Page 8) and Figure 1-3 (Page 11) in the Introduction.

One word of caution from Kaplan and Norton: "It is important (if not imperative) to describe an organization's strategy with word statements of strategic objectives in the four linked perspectives BEFORE turning to measurements. Many organizations building BSCs attempt to go directly from somewhat vague strategy statements to measures without this step, and often omit critical aspects of the strategy or else select from measures that are already available, rather than selecting measures that quantify their strategic objectives."

This is a much longer review than I usually compose because I am convinced that only what is measurable is manageable. Also because, after extensive prior experience helping corporate clients with formulating process maps of various kinds, I am convinced that organizational "journeys" to increased sales, profits, and value need maps by which to reach those destinations just as those who drive vehicles do when seeking their own destinations. One of the greatest benefits of strategy maps is that the process by which they are devised helps to ensure that the most appropriate destination is identified. Think of Kaplan and Norton as travel agents and cartographers, to be sure, but also as consultants whose services you can retain merely by purchasing their three books, then by absorbing and digesting the information and counsel those three books provide. For many decision-makers in all manner of organizations, Strategy Maps may well prove to be the most valuable business book they ever read.
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65 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Those Who Want to Implement Strategy!, January 9, 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton are the innovators behind the Balanced Scorecard, which has proven to be a potent way of turning strategy into reality. Before the Balanced Scorecard, most strategies failed in execution . . . because people didn't know what they were supposed to do. With the Balanced Scorecard, a very high percentage of strategies are implemented and do succeed. In The Strategy-Focused Organization, Professor Kaplan and Dr. Norton explained the management processes that make implementing the Balanced Scorecard most successful.
Strategy Maps now becomes another essential building block in strategy implementation. Importantly, this building block should be the starting point in your search for success. In the preface, the authors describe the three essential elements behind breakthrough results:
You must first describe the strategy, then measure the strategy for what needs to be executed and then manage the strategy by the measurements. Describing the strategy is the task addressed in Strategy Maps, measuring the strategy is addressed in the Balanced Scorecard, and The Strategy-Focused Organization looks at managing the strategy by the measurements.
Here's the philosophy the authors provide behind this conclusion:
"You can't manage (third component) what you can't measure (second component) [and] [y]ou can't measure what you can't describe (first component)."
In Strategy Maps, the authors have shown the way to communicate how each element of a company's activities contributes to the overall success of the strategy. Using the Balanced Scorecard, everyone in the organization knows what to be done. With Strategy Maps, each person will understand the context of what they must do and implementation improves.
Here's what a template of a typical strategy map includes for a for-profit company in Strategy Maps. First, all of the information is contained on one page. Second, that page has four perspectives: Financial; Customer; Internal; Learning and Growth. Third, the financial perspective looks at creating long-term shareholder value, and builds from a productivity strategy of improving cost structure and asset utilization and a growth strategy of expanding opportunities and enhancing customer value. Fourth, these last four elements of strategic improvement are aided by changes in price, quality, availability, selection, functionality, service, partnerships and branding. Fifth, from an internal perspective, operations and customer management processes help create product and service attributes while innovation, regulatory and social processes help with relationships and image. Sixth, all of these processes are enriched by the proper allocation of human, information and organizational capital. Organizational capital is comprised of company culture, leadership, alignment and teamwork capabilities. Seventh, the cause and effect relationships are describe by connecting arrows.
The book is a marvel of clarity. The authors describe what a strategy map is and proceed to share dozens of examples that have been successfully used in both for-profit and non-profit organizations around the world. The examples are carefully chosen to illuminate each element of the strategy map template that they suggest you begin with. In Part IV, they make the task of strategy map building even easier by taking typical strategies that are most often employed and showing how to build a strategy map that characterizes such a strategy. Finally, every chapter also refers to the best published work on what strategies and actions are most likely to succeed. So even if you are not familiar with the literature of creating and implementing successful strategies, you can use Strategy Maps to learn what you need to know.
Strategy Maps will be as valuable for small organizations as for large ones. All organizations need to have a better understanding of how all the pieces of a strategy need to fit together. In fact, if you only read one book written about strategy in 2004, you would be wise to choose this one.
As a student of continuing business model innovation, I was particularly pleased to see the authors explain how processes can be put in place to improve business models as part of a strategy map.
The only missing element in the book from my perspective is how to make strategy maps more compelling for the viewers. In strategy presentations across the country, I've often seen strategy maps that use colorful illustrations and enticing numerical relationships to help those in the trenches to grasp the full scope of how their work connects to everything else. When Strategy Maps is ready for its next edition, I hope the authors will consider adding a section in this regard. In the meantime, they offer a look at this element in the software they advertise for making strategy maps. See their on-line offering for more details.
If you have not yet read The Balanced Scorecard and The Strategy-Focused Organization, I strongly encourage you to read those outstanding books as well after you finish Strategy Maps. With the combined perspective of the three books, you should easily outdistance the competition!
As I finished the book, I thought about what else keeps strategies from being successful. In my experience, the typical remaining problem other than miscommunication is setting a direction that cannot be implemented in the appropriate time frame. I strongly encourage those who are planning new strategies to develop a strategy map before committing to the new strategy. Then use that strategy map to ask those who would have to implement the strategy what problems they foresee in implementation. In this way, you can adapt the strategy to what you can reasonably hope to execute.
This book also made me realize that drawing such a system effects graphic can help explain anything to others. I plan to do so much more often.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Knowledge!, June 17, 2005
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
If this book were a Hollywood film, it might be titled "Son of Balanced Scorecard" or even "Balanced Scorecard III." This book, however, is no mere spin-off or sequel. In two prior works, "The Balanced Scorecard" (which you may wish to read before reading this book) and "The Strategy-Focused Organization", authors Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton introduced the powerful concept of measuring the elusive intangibles that affect organizations. This information-dense book was born when the authors observed that CEOs instinctively draw arrows to explain their goals. This led to a breakthrough realization: "Objectives should be linked in cause-and-effect relationships." The graphic display of these relationships is a "strategy map." This book breaks new ground by providing a template so executives can be sure that their strategic planning omits nothing. It expands the concepts of "strategic themes" and "value-creating processes," and explains a system for aligning your organization's strategy with its intangible assets. However, the real-world examples may be lost on CEOs who are unfamiliar with MBA-style case studies. If you're implementing a "Balanced Scorecard" initiative or planning your firm's future, we say this is a blockbuster you don't want to miss.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing and maybe DAMAGING book, February 4, 2004
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
"Finally the book from Norton/Kaplan that links Scorecarding to Intangible Assets Management and that focuses on the holistic process (not on a tool) of managing strategically". That's what I thought BEFORE the book was published. That's what I expected. But this book takes a different, a very different turn.
Strategy Maps fails in two critical aspects: First, it presents Strategy Maps as a tool. "As important as the Balanced Scorecard" (citation from the introduction!), the authors claim. This is CRAP. In fact, Strategy Maps are and have always been a critical part of the typical Scorecard-based strategy management process that we might also refer to as "scorecarding". Maps are NOT another tool that we might or might not use. They are simply an ESSENTIAL part of using the Balanced Scorecard. No Strategy Map = No (real) Scorecard. Period. Why? Without a Strategy Map, a Scorecard is just hollow numbers and graphs. (And by the way: I guess 90% of today's Scorecards in practice are just that. Hollow and useless...). So this is not about a new tool really, but on one specific aspect of scorecarding. Too bad that Norton/Kaplan try to hype this as "the next big thing!".
Second problem: Norton/Kaplan seem to be just too narrow-minded nowadays to acknowledge what OTHERS (outside the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative) have been doing lately. They fill plenty of pages this time with examples (the book is in fact very repetitive), and they could have used the pages better connecting the Scorecard concept with fresh ideas. But they don't. They don't make use of valuable accomplishments regarding Intangible Assets Management. They ignore the highly relevant Beyond Budgeting framework.
Instead, as in their previous books, they resort to purely technical issues of scorecarding, this time focussing, you might guess it already, on the "mapping" stuff, without reflecting enough about paradoxes such as how to manage stategy in connection with Uncertainty, Planning, Resources, Innovation etc. You will find many (TOO MANY!) mapping examples in this book, as if the problem nowadays was DESIGNING such maps. I think the problem is more about communications, involving people and excecutives "letting go".
I doubt that this book will contribute much to managing practice. It just answers the wrong questions. A real pity...
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Templates for translating strategy into action, November 23, 2004
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
Whether you like Kaplan & Norton's concept of the balanced scorecard or not, we probably can agree that they have had huge adoption of their ideas in many of the biggest firms in the world.

Kaplan & Norton's focus on creating easy-to-understand frameworks for implementing strategy is admirable. They have published their ideas in articles and books over they last 10 years. This book - Strategy Maps - is the third book in their campaign for making strategy happen.

The first book from 1996 introduced the BALANCED SCORECARD (BSC). A tool that translates an organization's mission and strategy into a comprehensive set of performance measures that provides the framework for a strategic measurement and management system. The performance measures were arranged into four PERSPECTIVES. Viewed horizontally, like in a grid, each perspective represents the set of objectives desired by a particular stakeholder (Financial, Customer, Internal Process/Organization, Learning & Growth/Employees). The perspectives, when taken together, permit a complete view of the strategy and "tell the story of a strategy" in a clearly understandable framework.

In 2001, the second book introduced the STRATEGY-FOCUSED ORGANIZATION that places strategy at the centre of its management processes - not only for measurement purposes. Strategy is now central to the firm's agenda. There are five principles to a Strategy-Focused Organization: Mobilize Change through Executive Leadership; Translate the Strategy to Operational Terms [that is, balanced scorecard and strategy map]; Align the Organization to the Strategy; Make Strategy Everyone's Job; Make Strategy a Continual Process.

Finally in 2004, this book expands the concept of the STRATEGY MAP, which is a visual representation of an organization's strategy and the processes and systems necessary to implement that strategy. A strategy map is basically a one-page graphical summary, showing employees how their jobs are linked to the organization's overall objectives.

This book adds some new contributions to the concept of strategy maps:

TEMPLATES. The main benefit of this book may be the (very) many templates that should stimulate most readers to build their own customised strategy map. Being a relatively experienced balanced scorecard practitioner myself, I certainly enjoyed the inspiration from the templates. Most benefit is derived from the templates that describe the basic components of how value gets created in the internal process perspective as well as the learning and growth perspective. I can highly recommend the strategy map templates reflecting the firm's generic competitive strategy - lowest-cost vs. product leader vs. customer intimacy.

STRATEGIC THEMES, which are based on a few selected key value-creating processes. The authors introduce a taxonomy that classifies internal value-creating processes into four clusters that each may have literally hundreds of sub-processes that create value in some way:
- operations management (i.e. producing and delivering. Also known as supply chain management)
- customer management (or CRM)
- innovation of products and processes (such as Product-Lifecycle Management etc.)
- regulatory and social: conforming to regulations and societal expectations

INTANGIBLE ASSETS FRAMEWORK, which attempts to describe, measure, and align the three intangible assets in the learning and growth perspective to the strategic processes and objectives in the internal perspectives. The three types of intangible assets are:
- Human capital: employees' skills, talent, and knowledge.
- Organization capital: culture, leadership, employee alignment, teamwork, and knowledge management
- Information capital: Databases, information systems, network, and technology infrastructure

I have worked in practice with the balanced scorecard since 1998. This book is a natural follow-up to the authors' previous work. I fully acknowledge the critical issues mentioned by some of the reviewers. So if you don't want to work with balanced scorecard, let this book go.

But if you are already working within this strategy framework in your organization, you really shouldn't miss this book. It expands on many of the interesting ideas that you probably already know. It also brings you up to date with their current thinking. That's why I rate it four stars.

Peter Leerskov,
MSc in International Business (Marketing & Management) and Graduate Diploma in E-business
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Organizational Cartography of the Highest Order, February 27, 2004
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
Kaplan and Norton co-authored an article which was published in the Harvard Business Review (January/February 1993). In it they introduce an exciting new concept: the balanced scorecard. They have since published three books: this one, preceded by The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action (1996) and The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment (2000). Here's some background on the two books before we shift our attention to Strategy Maps.
In The Balanced Scorecard, as Kaplan and Norton explain in their Preface, "the Balanced Scorecard evolved from an improved measurement system to an improved management system." The distinction is critically important to understanding this book. Senior executives in various companies have used the Balanced Scorecard as the central organizing framework for important managerial processes such as individual and team goal setting, compensation, resource allocation, budgeting and planning, and strategic feedback and learning. When writing this book, it was the authors' hope that the observations they share would help more executives to launch and implement Balanced Scorecard programs in their organizations.
Then in The Strategy-Focused Organization, Kaplan and Norton note that, according to an abundance of research data, only 5% of the workforce understand their company's strategy, that only 25% of managers have incentives linked to strategy, that 60% of organizations don't link budgets to strategy, and 85% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy. These and other research findings help to explain why Kaplan and Norton believe so strongly in the power of the Balanced Scorecard. As they suggest, it provides "the central organizing framework for important managerial processes such as individual and team goal setting, compensation, resource allocation, budgeting and planning, and strategic feedback and learning." After rigorous and extensive research of their own, obtained while working closely with several dozen different organizations, Kaplan and Norton observed five common principles of a Strategy-Focused Organization:
1. Translate the strategy to operational terms
2. Align the organization to the strategy
3. Make strategy everyone's job
4. Make strategy a continual process
5. Mobilize change through executive leadership
The first four principles focus on the the Balanced Scorecard tool, framework, and supporting resources; the importance of the fifth principle is self-evident. "With a Balanced Scorecard that tells the story of the strategy, we now have a reliable foundation for the design of a management system to create Strategy-Focused Organizations."
Those who have not as yet read The Balanced Scorecard and/or The Strategy-Focused Organization are strong urged to do so. Brief comments about them in commentaries such as these merely indicate the nature and extent of the brilliant thinking which Kaplan and Norton provide in each.
What we have in Strategy Maps are two separate but related components: Further development and refinement of core concepts introduced in the earlier two books, and, a rigorous examination of new ideas and new applications by which to convert intangible assets into tangible outcomes. In the Introduction, Kaplan and Norton explain that their direct involvement with more than 300 organizations provided them with an extensive database of strategies, strategy maps, and balanced scorecards. This abundance of material has revealed a number of strategies and tactics by which literally any organization (regardless of size or nature) can create and then increase value. The strategies and tactics are embraced within three targeted approaches for aligning intangible assets to strategy:
"1. Strategic job families that align human capital to the strategic themes
2. The strategic IT portfolio that aligns information capital to the strategic themes
3. An organization change agenda that integrates and aligns organizational capital for continued learning and improvement in the strategic themes."
Kaplan and Norton carefully organize their material within five Parts. I presume to suggest that Part I be read and then re-read before proceeding to Value-Creating Processes, Intangible Assets, and Building Strategies and Strategy Maps. Part Five provides a number of case files generated by private-sector, public-sector, and nonprofit organizations. In fact, I strongly suggest that Chapter 2 be re-read several times because it offers an invaluable primer on strategy maps. When reading and then re-reading Chapter 2, be sure to check back on Figure 1-2 (Page 8) and Figure 1-3 (Page 11) in the Introduction.
One word of caution from Kaplan and Norton: "It is important (if not imperative) to describe an organization's strategy with word statements of strategic objectives in the four linked perspectives BEFORE turning to measurements. Many organizations building BSCs attempt to go directly from somewhat vague strategy statements to measures without this step, and often omit critical aspects of the strategy or else select from measures that are already available, rather than selecting measures that quantify their strategic objectives."
This is a much longer review than I usually compose because I am convinced that only what is measurable is manageable. Also because, after extensive prior experience helping corporate clients with formulating process maps of various kinds, I am convinced that organizational "journeys" to increased sales, profits, and value need maps by which to reach those destinations just as those who drive vehicles do when seeking their own destinations. One of the greatest benefits of strategy maps is that the process by which they are devised helps to ensure that the most appropriate destination is identified. Think of Kaplan and Norton as travel agents and cartographers, to be sure, but also as consultants whose services you can retain merely by purchasing their three books, then by absorbing and digesting the information and counsel those three books provide. For many decision-makers in all manner of organizations, Strategy Maps may well prove to be the most valuable business book they ever read.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rehash and missing the point, March 15, 2004
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
I was extremely disappointed by this book.

My most serious concern was the failure of the authors to cite John Thorpe's "The Information Paradox: Realizing the Business Benefits of Information Technology". Results Chains were first developed in the late 80s and early 90s by DMR Consulting and Fujitsu Consulting. Basically, Strategy Maps are simplified Result Chains with a Balance Scorecard flavor. Harvard professors MUST do a review of the literature BEFORE they publish.
This is important because a Results Chain avoids 3 problems that will bedevil Strategy Map users.
1) A Results Chain is more much explicit about the role that assumptions play in achieving business outcomes. Assumptions are either statements about uncertainty (e.g. price is an important criteria for customers) or they are things that are outside of your control (e.g. a competitor will not enter this market). Strategy Maps DO NOT talk about risks or assumptions. This is bizarre.
2) The book continually mixs up inputs, outputs (from internal processes), and outcomes. (Osborne's "Reinventing Government" has a nice appendix about the differences.) It is not clear whether the elements on the Strategy Maps are actions to be taken or the results of these actions.
The failure to understand these distinctions will cause confusion down the road.
3) Results Chains are much more explicit about the contributions that one element plays in achieving business outcomes. In contrast, all the Strategy Maps have many-to-many relationships.
What will happen if the benefits are not achieved? How are you going to do any kind of root-cause analysis with a Strategy Map?
As the other reviewers have noted, the Strategy Maps in the book are very generic. This may provide a starting point for developing your own Results Chain.
Take a look at Thorpe's book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strategy Mapping, October 20, 2007
This review is from: Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes (Hardcover)
This is a well written and comprehensive book on the concept of strategy mapping. In this book, Kaplan and Norton explains that among the most significant reason for poor strategy implementation is that leaders who formulate strategies for the organisation are not able to communicate their vision in a way that others can share it and leaders can mobilise everyone necessary for the achievement of that vision.

While the vast majority of organisations have well defined procedures for developing strategic plans, there is a major disconnect between the formulation and execution phases of strategy. The ability to cascade an organisation's vision, mission and core strategies into the actionable behaviours that achieve critical objectives is a challenging undertaking.

Kaplan and Norton explain that strategy maps provide a way for organisations to describe and communicate their strategies. Evolving as a breakthrough in second-generation Balanced Scorecards, the underlying concept of strategy maps is based on the premise that "a picture is worth a thousand words." The visual nature of the strategy map allows employees and other stakeholders to identify with the big picture and take up their role in strategy implementation.

Strategy maps describe how organisations create value by building on strategic themes such as "growth" or "productivity". These themes determine what specific strategies organisations will adopt at their customer, process, and learning and growth levels. Well constructed maps describe how the organisation plans to meet its specific customer promises through a combination of employee, technology and business processes that satisfy customer expectations and meet shareholder demands.

Kaplan and Norton illustrate the need for a strategy map by giving an example of a general taking his troops into a foreign territory. The general would need detailed maps showing the important towns and villages, the surrounding landscape, high and low ground, obstacles like rivers or marshes, key structures like bridges and tunnels, and the roads and highways that traverse the region. Without such information, the general cannot communicate the campaign strategy to the field officers and the rest his troops.

The authors point that, many top executives are attempting to implement their business strategies, by giving employees only limited descriptions of what they should do and why those tasks are important. Without clearer and more detailed information, unsurprisingly many companies have failed in executing their strategies. People cannot carry out a plan that they do not fully understand. Organisations need tools for communicating both their strategy and the processes and systems that will help them implement that strategy.

Kaplan and Norton point out that strategy maps are a tool to give employees a clear line of sight into how their jobs are linked to the overall objectives of the organisation, enabling them to work in a coordinated, collaborative fashion toward the company's desired goals. The maps provide a visual representation of a company's critical objectives and the crucial relationships among them that drive organisational performance.

I would recommend strategy consultants and senior business executives to read this informative, practical and insightful book on strategic management. The book is also useful and handy for students doing an MBA or other postgraduate studies in business.
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Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes
Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes by Robert S. Kaplan (Hardcover - February 2, 2004)
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