According to Covey’s The 4 Disciplines of Execution, the third discipline of business plan execution is KEEP A COMPELLING SCOREBOARD. From page 13 of their book, “Discipline 3 is the discipline of engagement. In principle, the highest level of performance always comes from people who are emotionally engaged and the highest level of engagement comes from knowing the score.”
During the execution of a PriSim business simulation, performance is communicated at the end of each competitive round via “scores” reported in an industry “newspaper” and through other competitive intelligence reports. However, we’ve discovered this is not enough. Covey’s “scores” are meant to be glaring, in-your-face statistics used to rally the teams to victory. Although useful in achieving other objectives, being buried in a report is not the most effective presentation of this data.
Printed reports quickly become subsumed in the whirlwind of running the simulated business. Several years ago, we improved our exercises by implementing Covey’s 3rd Discipline. This was accomplished by hanging permanent scoreboards around the room. Teams were instructed to update the boards with each year’s lag and lead KPIs. When done correctly, the scoreboards increase the effort exerted in the exercise and contribute to a competitive energy in the room. These scoreboards often become a central focus for discussion, reflection, and debate – more than any distributed set of reports had ever done.
Above, we specified “when done correctly.” We’re still learning, but here’s what we’ve discovered so far as simulation-scoreboard best practices:
- Align Charted KPIs with Real-World KPIs. There are many key performance indicators (KPIs) generated by the business simulations. While some of these KPIs will become the primary focus for a team’s strategy, not all KPIs will have a real-world organizational resonance. The KPIs put on display during the exercise must also align with current KPIs emphasized within the real organization. Without this, the energy and excitement in the KPIs may be minimal and you’ll be best to forgo the wall-chart scoreboards.
- Teams Do the Work. Have teams fill out the charts to increase buy-in and reflection.
- Emphasize the Trends. Refer to the charts as rounds are debriefed to emphasize the importance of KPI trends over time vs. “snapshot in time” performance.
- Display the wall charts in a central place to facilitate reflection/pondering. Put the scoreboards literally “in their faces”.
- Keep it Simple. We suggest a maximum of 2 KPI scoreboards, at most 3. More is NOT better.
- Include Lags and Leads. Demonstrate the Covey lag/lead principle by displaying 1 lag and 1 lead KPI.
By following these guidelines, PriSim fosters a competitive, but fun, environment that pushes teams to fully immerse themselves in the simulation, therefore becoming effective (simulated) business executives and increasing business acumen.