I have written many places about how I am always looking for ways to improve my own performance and how I enjoy exploring new tools. Today I wanted to introduce a tool that is proven to work in business and that I personally am using right now in several aspects of my life. It is the well-known balanced scorecard...with a personal twist. I am no expert in using balanced scorecard… In fact the only reason I stumbled onto this personal improvement technique was because I needed to refresh my business school knowledge about this strategy tool.
I spend an average of 80 hours working, every single week. Some weeks it is a lot more and some weeks it is a bit less. I enjoy my work and the way I can challenge my mind and intellect every single day. It is un-avoidable that this work has shaped me to some extent. But the tools that I use in my work-life have until recently not been used at home. I will not take credit for this change as it was my wife who first introduced Asana (www.asana.com) to our personal-life. That was a great improvement to the way we manage projects at home (in this case: Annapurna Basecamp Trip 2013). Being a consultant who is married to another amazing consultant has its benefits. But that story is for another blog post…
When my wife introduced Asana and I saw how effective it was, I felt inspired by her. I apply several business principles to my personal life both consciously and subconsciously, but here was a tool that actually worked. I have a professional goal to outperform the Matias of today, tomorrow. In my studies and continuous efforts to reach this goal, I found some hard truths about my own strengths and weaknesses. As I worked and continue to work with overcoming these challenges and leverage my strengths, I began to see parallels to my personal life. I overcome complex business problems internally in the company I work, on client projects and when developing Business Cases or proposals. So why should simple life-challenges be more difficult to cope with? Now I began looking at tools and principles with a fresh perspective, I “invented” the Balanced Personal Scorecard. Or so I though… It turns out that the balanced scorecard has been used by many people for personal purposes. I found out that the “official” name is “Personal Balanced Score Card” (I think my name was better).
To understand the PBSC, you will need some basic knowledge about the tool “Balanced Scorecard”. To give you the Wikipedia definition it is:
The balanced scorecard (BSC) is a strategy performance management tool - a semi-standard structured report, supported by design methods and automation tools, that can be used by managers to keep track of the execution of activities by the staff within their control and to monitor the consequences arising from these actions. It is perhaps the best known of several such frameworks. Since its original incarnation in the early 1990s as a performance measurement tool, the BSC has evolved to become an effective strategy execution framework.
The BSC concept as put forth by Drs. Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton is now seen as a critical foundation in a holistic strategy execution process that, besides helping organizations articulate strategy in actionable terms, provides a road map for strategy execution, for mobilizing and aligning executives and employees, and making strategy a continual process
To apply this to your personal life, you need to separate aspects of your life into categories. The categories that I chose to include are:
Family: How am I performing as a husband, son, brother, friend and some day as a father?
Spiritual: How am I living up to my beliefs, my convictions and the principles that I feel should guide me?
Professional: How is my career going and how am I developing my own competence, work ethics and professional focus in accordance with my goals?
Physical: How is my body doing according to what I feel is appropriate for my age and how does it perform relative to the tasks that I want it to perform?
As they often like to do, the textbooks probably define PBSC-categories for you. To be honest, I find that completely inappropriate as this is YOUR personal scorecard and it needs to be relevant to how you see yourself, not how someone else defines “a person”. I encourage you to not use my categories or those found in a book, but use the ones you feel comfortable with, also 4 is just a number I like, if you want 7 categories then I think you should go with 7. I defined each category with my objectives. Using these categories, I assigned tangible metrics that I felt reflected my performance in each aspect of my life.
I do not use the scorecard to give myself a score X out of Y possible, but rather to gain an overview of how I am focusing on the different aspects of my life. I assess if my focus is balanced and if I am happy with the goal achievement I am currently accomplishing. I am using a more detailed version of the table you see below, but have included this to give you an idea of what the actual tool could look like.
If you want to read a book, read a scientific paper on the concept or pay someone to help you figure it out, then this blog is not the place to go. But I am more than happy to provide some links for anyone interested to learn more about PBSC. Head on over to my Facebook page to find more links and while you are there, don’t forget to follow me there for more frequent updates than just my rather infrequent blog posts: www.facebook.com/MJWorkingAnt. Please also note that I do not endorse or recommend these, but simply provide them to save you time Googling it (don’t sue me if a PBSC consulting session or a book does not change your life and make you happy in all aspects of your life).
If you would like to comment here or on my Facebook-page, I would like to know:
“How do you use your work-skills to empower yourself on a personal level?”