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BLAZE Team engages the balanced scorecard

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Consider what you accomplished while on duty today. Did your actions directly contribute to executing the Wing's strategy? How would you know? Whether you appreciate it or not, these are profound questions. They lie at the core of a command-wide strategic initiative known as the Balanced Scorecard which formally reached the 14th Flying Training Wing this week. This article introduces the Balanced Scorecard concept, briefly outlines its application to the military, and discusses its introduction to the BLAZE Team. The Balanced Scorecard, developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, was hailed in 1997 by Harvard Business Review as one of the most significant business developments of the previous 75 years. The Balanced Scorecard concept seeks to address both the challenge of organizational performance measurement and the critical issue of successful strategy implementation. The method implements a framework to bridge the traditional gap between leadership's vision of where the organization should be going and the workforce's daily contributions to create value within the organization. Within the Air Force, it pairs well with Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. Balanced Scorecard identifies the processes most critical to strategic objectives while AFSO21 can help to improve those processes. Earlier this week a visiting team with members from Air Education and Training Command and 19th Air Force summarized the Balanced Scorecard this way: "At the highest level, the Balanced Scorecard is a disciplined framework that helps organizations translate and communicate strategy, or plan of action to change, into operational objectives that change both behavior and performance."
In December 2002, Management Initiative Decision 901 directed all departments within Department of Defense to implement the Balanced Scorecard, stating, "The Report of the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review tailors the Balanced Scorecard concept to the DoD, thus providing management a framework to help defense managers to balance investment priorities against risk over time." Within the AF, General William Looney, Commander of AETC, is a strong Balanced Scorecard proponent and its primary champion. He implemented Balanced Scorecard while at his two previous commands at Electronic Systems Center and Aeronautical Systems Center. After his departure, it was adopted command-wide within Air Force Material Command, and under his leadership it is now in full implementation within AETC. To date, AETC and AFMC are the only Air Force Major Commands to implement Balanced Scorecard.
While the implementation effort at AETC Headquarters began in earnest in 2005, the cascading flow down to the wings did not reach the 14th FTW until earlier this week. The visiting AETC and 19th Air Force team met with all BLAZE senior leaders and their respective actions officers to conduct an orientation session, action officer training and one-on-one interviews with each senior leader. In three weeks the team will return to conduct an 8-hour Strategy Workshop where all BLAZE senior leaders will work together to hash out the Strategy Map -- the first tangible step in implementing Balanced Scorecard. Future articles will track the BLAZE implementation effort and detail specific components.
The Balanced Scorecard is the best new tool available to help organizations improve their strategic execution. The effort to build and implement the BLAZE Balanced Scorecard is now underway.