STRATEGY MAPS: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes

Robert S. Kaplan, Author, David P. Norton, Author . Harvard Business School $35 (324p) ISBN 978-1-59139-134-0

Over a decade ago, Kaplan and Norton struck a business consulting gold mine with the Balanced Scorecard (later turned into an eponymous book), which permits executives to list their targets for various "measures," i.e., the numbers they'd like to hit on various performance goals. Building off that earlier success, they introduce the strategy map, a flow chart to help businesses figure out who needs to do what by offering a "holistic perspective" on the individual goals of each department and how they interact with one another. Kaplan and Norton are gung-ho about the power of strategy maps to provide a conceptual framework for understanding any corporation, public institution or nonprofit organization, but general readers are likely to shake their head at jargon-heavy reformulations of the obvious like "the ideal customer experience is a product that meets customer specifications and is suitable for immediate use by the customer." And though the book is laden with case studies, it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of their interesting stories. When one reads about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for example, one expects a more engaging outcome than "a significant breakthrough in how strategy maps are designed and used in large, matrixed public-sector institutions." Similar missed narrative opportunities involving outfits like the U.S. Army and the Boston Lyric Opera may keep even readers with strong business backgrounds from appreciating the full potential of the strategy map by focusing on those maps at the expense of the territory they were developed to represent. (Feb. 2)

Reviewed on: 01/12/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
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