List the ways you can step out of the prism

another one bites the dust. According to a recent Cranfield School of
Management flyer, research commissioned by KPMG suggested that 70 per cent of
"balanced scorecard initiatives" fail. They have called it
"Drowning in data ñ the new measurement crisis".

is probably why they have teamed up with consultancy Accenture to produce
"a new framework" called the "performance prism". I don’t
know what a performance prism looks like but I am willing to bet that its
chances of success are no greater than the balanced scorecard.

have a very high level of confidence in this matter because history is on my
side. Proprietary and generic "solutions" developed outside
organisations all tend to follow a well-worn, tried-and-tested cycle of
failure. They start with hype, followed by a big-bang launch and end in
disillusionment and recrimination.

cycle is so well recognised that I guess your response to my opening paragraph
was a world-weary shrug of the shoulders and some mutterings to the effect that
"so tell me something I don’t already know".

you know these initiatives never gain the requisite commitment and ownership
from your people. You also know that change will happen only if all directors
are 100 per cent behind it. Worse still, you know that lack of commitment leads
to them trying to "buy in" change because they are not inclined to
change themselves and they certainly are not prepared to devote the enormous
amount of time and patience necessary to bring about lasting change.

there is always an opportunity to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. If,
like me, you always adopt a healthily sceptical view towards all "new
approaches", there is a very simple technique that you can try today which
uses your natural scepticism to best advantage.

those who are driving the initiative to brainstorm all of the possible ways in
which this initiative could fail, not succeed. Jargon is normally used, so
let’s call this "negative thinking mode".

list might include obvious things such as "employees may not understand
what a performance prism is" to the less obvious such as "you might
fall under a bus tomorrow", but should definitely include the most likely
cause of failure which is "everyone will pay lip service to it".  

it out. You will find the list is endless and, particularly from an HR angle,
you will have highlighted what very few organisations learn from change
initiatives and that is that 99.9 per cent of the likely causes of failure will
be people issues and no-one outside your organisation will resolve those for

Paul Kearns
Senior partner, Personnel Works

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