Author: Nadia Kaiser


Experimenting with the Balanced Scorecard

Cognitive Tensions

Cognitive tensions, also known as cognitive contradictions, occur when the mind is confronted with two or more contradictory ideas that come together. This stimulates the mind and forces us to think which leads us to making new connections or insights. In business, organizational tools are used to purposefully create cognitive tensions to motivate reframing (Doz and Kosonen, 2008). Stretch goals, such as ambitious vision statements, can be used to challenge the usual organizational practices and services. When these visions are reinforced in a ‘burning-the-bridges’ approach, leaders commit themselves and their organizations to major change or transformation.

Cognitive tensions increase when contradictory goals and multidimensional structures are introduced. These goals and structures force employees to search for new solutions that stretch beyond routine responses and take multiple perspectives into account.

Cognitive Tensions and the Matrix

According to recent research, organizations require governance structures or frameworks that have the capability to contain their complexity. Fortunately, matrices are a great way to solve complexity since matrix structures facilitate rich information flows, innovative solutions and allow for fast resource transformation.

Since the beginning of time, the structure of the matrix has appealed to the human mind. A matrix is simple, powerful and accessible to everyone. It enables us to filter out noise and construct brilliant solutions through cross-functional collaboration.

In 2003, Scientrix pioneered the use of a matrix architecture for complex problem solving. Complex problems have more than one dimension, a dimension being a concept that can be broken down into variables. A matrix architecture enables us to integrate multiple dimensions within a problem statement, to subdivide the problem into parts and to master one part at a time within the context of the whole.

Normally our minds can only deal with 3 to 5 concepts at a time, but in a matrix we can deal with multiple concepts, and the interrelationships between these concepts, simultaneously. We can also construct solution architectures that enable broader participation, while maintaining the cohesion of the different parts. These architectures require a combination of engineering, architecture and practical solution construct.

‘Matrix thinkers are creative, visionary problem-solvers’ (Regan, 2014). Matrix thinkers do not think in a linear manner, as in, a leads to b, leads to c. Rather, matrix thinkers think in a 3-dimensional manner.  Well-known matrix thinkers include Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, John Lennon and Bill Gates, to name a few. These individuals are innovators who significantly impacted the way we do things today. They have the ability to make connections between concepts that seem unrelated, which often leads to revolutionary new solutions and ideas (Regan, 2014).

Likewise, matrices are a great way to help us make the connections between concepts and to blend these concepts into something new.

Exploring Cognitive Tensions Using Traditional Management Methodologies

Let’s explore if traditional methodologies can be used in a different way to discover interrelationships between seemingly unrelated concepts. For this example, we will use the balanced scorecard. What will happen if our strategic priorities (dimension 1) are connected with the perspectives of the balanced scorecard (dimension 2)?


Matrix Balance Scorecard


We used this approach to map our own strategy and were pleasantly surprised how much clearer our plans became. Making the connections between each aspect of the balanced scorecard and our strategic priorities enabled us to create a focus on how to achieve each of our outcomes, highlighted the cause-effect relationships and enabled us to see our strategy from multiple perspectives, all in one holistic view. However, in order to translate back to the balanced scorecard, we had to drop one dimension but we were still happy with the fact that the matrix helped us to derive better concepts and insights.


Balance Scorecard


Once we have clarity on what needs to be done, we can now further granulate and ideate to get to the detailed initiatives or projects that need our focus.


Scientrix Tag Management


Now that we have a better understanding of the initiatives or projects we need to implement, we can track them through a project lifecycle.


project board


Each project requires planning. In today’s fast world we love to do things on the go and be more agile. As a result, task boards have emerged as a great way to help us manage project deliverables. Even so, different people adapt to different modes of operation and, therefore, they should be able to move seamlessly between traditional or agile project management.


task board


Finally, we need to understand if our efforts are paying off and measure if the results are developing in the right direction.


Results Scientrix


Cognitive tensions increase when contradictory goals and multidimensional structures are introduced. When we start combining traditional methodologies, such as the balanced scorecard, with matrices, imagine the possibilities we would have to master our strategy and execution. In the end, cognitive tensions between these methodologies help us to make sense of chaos within organizations, and enable the design of structures that unleashes the full potential of the people and resources within.


Advanced Program Management with Scientrix


Clarify the strategic ambitions

Getting people to understand and buy-in to the strategic ambitions is a challenge in most organisations. Without this buy-in the likelihood of successful strategy execution is low.

The Scientrix digital solution provides the following crucial benefits for clarifying the strategic ambitions:

  • Enable colleagues to provide input in the design of the organisation’s common purpose.
  • Enable colleagues to align with the common purpose.
  • Clearly understand what contribution they make to propel the organisation forward.

These benefits for the first phase in enterprise program management enable the strategic ambitions to be clarified.



Align portfolios and programs

Portfolios and programs are often poorly aligned. The risk of poor alignment is that efforts are wasted on projects that have no real impact on the business.

The Scientrix digital solution provides the following crucial benefits for aligning portfolios and programs:

  • Align efforts to achieve the desired results.
  • Eliminate duplications across the organization.
  • Improve prioritisation of programs and projects.
  • Improve collaboration across the organization.

These crucial benefits that Scientrix technology enables allows for the successful alignment of portfolios and programs.



Unpack programs

From the time that a cross-functional project has started until first results have been achieved, a large amount of time has passed. The problems with the slow pace of execution is that: substantial coordination is needed, there are limited methodologies available to unpack and align projects, there are limited collaboration tools available, no clear accountabilities and responsibilities of projects and lastly there is not a sufficient overview of existing projects.

The Scientrix digital solution provides the following crucial benefits for unpacking programs:

  • Provide a framework for the rigorous unpacking of programs into projects and tasks.
  • Enable cross-functional collaboration and active engagement of employees.
  • Enable agile methods for managing and executing projects.
  • Create a transparent overview on the success of the program.
  • Provide the use of project dashboards to ensure a common approach in methodology.
  • Deal with different levels of complexity and scope.

Through Scientrix technology, organisations will be aligned and deliver the strategy together by collectively unpacking programs.


Generate value creating ideas

Creating ideas is one thing. Generating value creating ideas is an entirely different thing all together. Normally there is no shortage of ideas in an organization, however the art lies in filtering and prioritizing the right ideas.

The Scientrix digital solution provides the following crucial benefits for generating value creating ideas:

  • Provide thought models and tools to support idea creation.
  • Enable the effective filtering and prioritisation of ideas.
  • Provide visibility from idea creation to value creation.

The benefits provided by Scientrix allow for the generation of value creating ideas.



Manage projects successfully

Although project management is a well-established methodology, there is still a substantial lack of successful project execution. This is because of a lack of formality, skills, tools, and discipline discipline with the risk of creating disengagement since people do not understand the value which projects bring to the organization. All too often people are working in a silo culture and the consequent battle to understand the ‘why’ behind projects.

The Scientrix digital solution provides the following crucial benefits for managing projects successfully:

  • Avoid getting lost in planning by acting in an agile fashion.
  • Solve the ‘why’ issue of through clear cause effect relationships.
  • Provide the right project level oversight.
  • Align project objectives with overall goals.

These crucial benefits enable projects to be managed successfully and strategy execution to be accelerated.



Govern execution and performance

Governance execution is concerned with putting the right structures in place in order for organisations to efficiently and effectively execute their strategy. A successful governance model ensures a form of collective management, which enables an assessment into the organisation’s position in relation to achieving its overall goal.

The Scientrix digital solution provides the following crucial benefits for successfully governing the execution of performance:

  • Enable the effective strategy and evaluation of the strategic framework.
  • Provide oversight of the extended innovation funnel.
  • Streamline communication and process flows for governance.
  • Bottom up and top down governance.
  • Provide corporate wide KPI dashboards and intelligence.
  • The ability to actively communicate and track decisions and actions.
  • Tagging of initiatives and KPIs.

These benefits provide a platform for 3 layers (corporate, team and individual), 3 pace (systems of: record, differentiation and innovation) and 5 pillars (strategy, innovation, execution, results and people) governance model. Scientrix enables one of the most powerful governance frameworks available.


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