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The HPMD Bullet
Summer 1995
© Copyright 1995, HP Management Decisions Ltd., All Rights Reserved.
Vol. 1 Issue 1

Scoreboarding by Ed Happ

“Management feedback and business measurement have lost sight of the university model..."

We believe strongly that the world of sports and the world of scholastic achievement needs to be applied more to business. In a university setting, very cerebral types of activities are taking place, as in the business arena. But at the university, you are more aware of the prerequisites to get to the next level. You need to get good grades, you have tests, and you know how you are doing as you go. You get report cards; you get the feedback. And then certain grades earn rewards, such as the Dean's list and scholarships. Eventually you get the degree, and go on from there. Also in sports, it is very clear what has to be done to get a first down or to score points. There are boundaries and there are penalties in addition to a scoreboard for feedback.

Yet that whole scoreboarding, or that report-carding type ofmentality goes away in business. You walk in the company, through the front door, and it disappears. Management feedback and business measurement have lost sight of the university model: where it was very clear, right down to the individual desk. Every student had a specific understanding. First you accumulate a set of very tangible, objective accomplishments. Once they are achieved, you then graduate to the next level, either to a job or to further education.

We think that that has to be applied more in business. And it can be applied in positive and fun ways. There is an interesting book called The Game of Work, by Charles Coonradt, which talks about this concept; about applying gamesmanship to the company setting. We would like to see more of that done; we would like to be a force in our consulting work to help make more of that happen.

Why? People want to do a good job; they want to know that they are achieving, they are excelling. They want to, if you will, 'bring home the good report card to mom and dad;' to take that pride in accomplishment; to be able to

demonstrate success. And theyalso thrive on having people around them wanting them to succeed. Contrast that with many measurements and performance reviews in companies that are only an opportunity to point out failure, or an opportunity to write boilerplate type reviews. Our goal is that employees be able to keep score on themselves and know when they are winning. In a university setting, you know what you have to do the next semester in order to make the Dean's list. You become conscious of it and you orient yourself toward it. Then when you achieve it, there is a great sense of satisfaction; there is a great sense of personal direction: that you made it happen. It should be that way in a company. We think it could be tremendously motivating; it can be a positive force for productivity and success in a company. It is very people oriented; very people focused; very results driven.

Scoreboarding: It's a good thing, put up the Diamond Vision screen in your office, and tell people how they are doing. Tell them how to win.