Interview with Julian Taylor, Scottish Enterprise
Julian Taylor is director of strategy development and network performance for Scottish Enterprise (SE).
With about 2500 employees The Scottish Enterprise Network is Scotland’s main economic development agency and comprises Scottish Enterprise National (the coordinating body) and 12 Local Enterprise Companies (LECs) that collectively cover 93 per cent of the nation’s population.
This interview was conducted in 2004.
How long have you been responsible for facilitating the Balanced Scorecard process within Scottish Enterprise?
I’ve been responsible for scorecard facilitation since late 2001.
Your actual job title is network director, learning and performance. How much of your time is dedicated to the Balanced Scorecard?
I work in what is known as the knowledge management directorate, which is effectively the organization’s strategy unit. In theory, therefore, all of my time should be dedicated to scorecard issues as the scorecard is about turning strategy into action. In practice, however, about 1/3rd of my time is spent on the Balanced Scorecard. We are presently looking to align areas such as resource allocation and internal learning/project evaluation to the scorecard which, when fully integrated into the scorecarding process will mean the scorecard, as a complete management system, will essentially become my main day-to-day work focus.
Who do you report to?
I report to Charlie Woods, who’s the Senior Director for Knowledge Management within Scottish Enterprise. He sits on the corporate management team and therefore reports directly to the chief executive.
Along with our chief executive officer (CEO) Robert Crawford (who has left the company since), Charlie Woods has been incredibly supportive in the whole scorecard effort and acted as a bridge between the development team, which I led, and the chief executive and chairman.
How did you come to be involved in the Balanced Scorecard design and implementation program?
The Balanced Scorecard program came out of a Business Transformation project, which was a wide-ranging initiative to implement organizational change across the SE network. The aim of this initiative (which was largely in response to the UK’s government’s Modernising Government agenda (1) was to ensure that the network meets the needs of our customers and enables the delivery of our strategic intent, measurable in terms of quantifiable benefits, such as cost savings and improved productivity. Through Business Transformation we reviewed everything we did. This included performance management, which for almost four years has been my area of responsibility. So the scorecard project was seen as naturally aligning to my work area, especially as I was, and still am, also responsible for resource allocation across the network.
Unlike HR or Finance, as examples, there are no clear job descriptions for a ‘Balanced Scorecard’ manager. What did Scottish Enterprise see as the key personal and professional qualities for your role in scorecard facilitation?
Facilitating a scorecard process is fundamentally about putting our strategy into action. Therefore what Scottish Enterprise was looking for was somebody who could bridge the strategy world and the operations world and feel at ease in each. I really believe this is the key skill in scorecard facilitation.
It was also important that the person had strong analytical and synthesis skills and was able to communicate with people at all levels of the organization. Softer skills are also required in areas such as pragmatism and perseverance, as anyone involved in change management will testify.
There are other skills, such as facilitation, people management, improvisation and possessing an inquiring and challenging mind that are true of any change management project, and not exclusive to the scorecard.
How were you trained in facilitating a Balanced Scorecard program?
I had previously had broad training in both facilitation and strategy implementation. But in terms of the scorecard specifically it was essentially learning on the job. However, this was greatly assisted by Jonathan Chocqueel-Mangan, who acted as the adviser to the scorecard program. He provided real support to me in taking the scorecard forward, acting almost as a personal mentor, tutor and coach, as well as inputting into the content of the scorecard.
A Balanced Scorecard has to become ‘the way we manage around here’. From where do you get the authority (for example from the CEO) to go into a team and say ‘we’re going to build a Balanced Scorecard’?
We did get authority from the CEO and chairman as part of the wider Business Transformation program. My boss Charlie Woods gave his authority and his support, which was obviously important, and he was very helpful in helping to secure wider senior management support.
In addition to that we paid close attention to generating our own authority. We did a fair amount of piloting before we rolled the scorecard across the network; the success we achieved, and could demonstrate, was very useful in building support organization-wide.
We have found that although you need authority from the top, the best way to get people excited about the scorecard is through successes in the field. So authority has both top-down and bottom-up dimensions.
What are the major challenges you face when facilitating the process of building and implementing Balanced Scorecards and how are these overcome?
I think that sometimes there can be a pressure to show quick benefits, and from a Business Transformation perspective this was not surprising as demonstrating quantifiable benefits was a key reason for the initiative. Although, as I’ve already stated, this is important for gaining buy-in, you have to be able to balance the pragmatic requirement for early successes with the need to use the scorecard as steer to a longer-term strategic vision. Showing how the scorecard will track progress towards goals two to three years out is very important, after all the scorecard is a strategy implementation framework, but being able to get across the importance of the longer-term perspective can be a challenge.
I can also be a challenge to show that the scorecard isn’t the latest management fad or consultancy jargon.
Are there people dedicated full-time or part-time to the scorecard within Scottish Enterprise? If so, what are their roles?
There are two FTEs in my team and up to 1 or 2 FTE in each of our strategic business units. These staff provide a range of support services, from collating and analyzing data to facilitating the decision making process in the organization. This will include supporting workshops, developing strategy maps, objectives and measures, and – critically – the actual ongoing implementation and refinement of the scorecard approach. To be frank, it would simply be impossible to do this work without the support of the great staff around me.
We have trained 50 people throughout the network to facilitate the scorecard building process. These employees now have a very good understanding of what the scorecard is, what it sets out to achieve and how it should be designed. As well as helping to roll the scorecard out they have become a powerful community of practice sharing learnings and best practices across the network. Interestingly some of these employees were previously fully involved in back-office number crunching roles and now they are, in some case, facilitating the decision-making process at senior levels. This makes for a much more enjoyable job and provides them with valuable skills.
How do you see your role developing over the next 2-3 years?
I guess that one measure of my success would be if I worked myself out of a job in that the scorecard becomes so intrinsic to the way senior management do their job that they don’t need anybody facilitating the process.
In saying that, there will probably always be a need for somebody behind the scenes pulling it all together. And that’s where I see my role – behind the scenes pushing the scorecard along, but certainly not as owning the scorecard; ownership has to reside in the senior team.
From your own career perspective, how do you think this role will benefit you personally in the longer-term?
Working with the scorecard has certainly widened my skills portfolio, as it has for everybody who’s been involved in the program.
For me it’s been great to see the big picture of how an organization is run as I’ve been exposed to decision-making at the very highest level. The scorecard process has been invaluable in gaining an understanding of the right questions to ask in planning how strategy can be implemented.
From your experience what are the critical success factors in succeeding as a Balanced Scorecard manager?
From a personal point of view there are 3 ‘Ps’ - patience, perseverance and pragmatism. The path to success is very windy and you need courage of convictions.
You also need to recognize that there will be times when there are delays and when all is not going as smoothly as you like, and here you do need a senior sponsor to assure people that all will work out well in the long run. For this reason, amongst others, you do need a supportive environment and importantly a high level sponsor. But I don’t believe this sponsor has to be the CEO. As long as the CEO is not anti the scorecard, I think broad high-level support is good enough to start with.
Finally, I also believe there’s a real danger in being seen as an evangelist for a management tool, so keep it understated and let the success of the scorecard make its case so compelling that people demand to know more; demonstrating practical success is much more powerful than ramming theory down people’s throats.
James Creelman wrote a case study on how Scottish Enterprise implemented the Balanced Scorecard for his report: Building and Implementing a Strategic Balanced Scorecard, Business Intelligence, 2003, and in his report, co-authored by David Harvey, Developing the Public Sector Scorecard, Business Intelligence, 2004.
James has also written a study on Scottish Enterprise for his report, Reinventing the Budgeting Process, co-written with Jonathan Chocqueel-Mangan, published by Business Intelligence, Summer, 2006.
Further information on Scottish Enterprise can found at: http://www.scottish-enterprise.com
1. The Modernizing Government Programme is the UK Government’s agenda for modernizing public services. It is a long-term project with goals such as:
- Putting citizens first by ensuring public services are accessible to all.
- Overcoming barriers by shifting the focus of public services to the user’s viewpoint.
- Delivering better policies and seamless, quality services.