Summary and Info
For any organization to perform and compete successfully, it must have the systems and processes in place to translate goals into achievable actions—and measure and monitor results. Moreover, the organization must be able to adjust and adapt as market conditions, government regulations, personnel, and other variables evolve, sometimes gradually and sometimes dramatically. In Delivering Results: Measuring What Matters, Babson College professors and management consultants, Lawrence Carr and Alfred Nanni, take a holistic systems approach to organizational management, with an emphasis on aligning internal resources, in the context of the external environment, to achieve goals with little wasted effort or energy. The primary active mechanism in this approach is communication. Using feedback, a manager may measure the magnitudes of strategically-important performance improvements, assess causes and effects, learn how to make effective improvements, and motivate people to take actions that lead to those improvements. But only when all the parts of the management system line up can feedback be harnessed to encourage behavior that delivers strategic results. Ultimately, promoting strategic behavior is the objective of system design. First and foremost, delivering results depends upon influencing employees’ behavior. The term "management system"—something that measures results and reports activities—sounds mechanistic, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Delivering Results, from the organization’s perspective, is not merely measuring and reporting; instead, it is the amalgamation of all the decisions made and all the actions taken by the organization’s people. Thus a management system is more about human judgment than quantitative analysis. The authors acknowledge that the challenge of designing and implementing an effective management system can be daunting for several reasons:Different strategies call for different competencies.Specific competitive environments may reorder the priorities of these competencies. The professional model may determine how an organization operates. Leadership styles influence behavior.Variations in organizational structures can lead to dissimilar strategic opportunities or limits within an organization. Information technology can enhance or limit the flow of necessary data.Skills and knowledge change over time. No two people are exactly the same. Illustrating their concepts with numerous examples, the authors demonstrate that managers who can navigate these variables and chart a route for their own organization’s strategy will reach their goals faster and more efficiently than their competitors. Knowing how to create and direct management systems that deliver results is, in itself, a strategic resource.