Whiteboard: Strategy Maps

By David Norton  |  Posted 11-15-2003

In their drive to achieve alignment, CIOs often run head first into a conundrum: How can you align IT to the business strategy when no two people can describe the strategy? Unlike financial plans, which all contain income statements, balance sheets and other uniform elements, there is no single framework for describing a company's strategic plan. And without a common language for discussing strategy, companies can turn into towers of Babel. Leaders might stress different strategic goals causing confusion among the management team and disconnects between management and the rank-and-file employees. The connections that should link internal processes and information systems to customer value and financial goals can be buried and severed. The result? A failure to execute on strategy and a widening gap in IT–business alignment.

In this whiteboard, David Norton, an originator of the Balanced Scorecard concept, shows how to overcome this problem by creating "strategy maps" of both an enterprise's strategy and its IT strategy. A strategy map describes how an organization intends to create value for its stakeholders—the goal of any business strategy. It identifies the specific processes, competencies, cultural attributes and technologies, and how they are connected to satisfying customers and increasing long-term shareholder value. Similarly, the IT strategy map defines how an IT organization delivers value to the business it serves. Strategy maps are not tools for creating strategy; they only describe strategies. However, by using strategy maps, IT and business executives can ensure that the strategies they have chosen are well understood, and see if their IT strategy is well aligned with their enterprise strategy.

David Norton is president of Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, Inc., an organization facilitating the global use and effectiveness of the Balanced Scorecard as a management process. His latest book from Harvard Business School Press, Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes, will be published in December.

The whiteboard comprises four PDF pages that can be printed out on standard 8.5" X 11" paper.Download now.

After printing the pages, arrange the segments to fashion the whiteboard. You can also download a single-page whiteboard, suitable for screen viewing, or printing on poster board.