Management And Accounting Web

Kurtzman, J. 1997. Is your company off course? Now you can find out why. Fortune (February 17): 128-130.

Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Balanced Scorecard Main Page | EVA Main Page | Performance Measurements Main Page

The title of this article is somewhat misleading because it mainly reveals a controversy related to what type of measurement system a company should use. According to Kurtzman, there is a raging controversy between two schools of thought. He refers to these schools as the balance people and the numbers people.

The Balance People The Numbers People
The corporate scorecard should be balanced including nonfinancial soft stuff like employee satisfaction. The balanced scorecard confuses the issue. Measurements should be purely financial.

The balance people promote the use of corporate, or balanced scorecards. Kurtzman uses Analog Devices as an example. Analog's scorecard includes a number of nonfinancial measures such as rate of on-time deliveries, product development cycle times, and number of new products. It links these measurements to financial indicators such as the percentage of sales due to new-product introductions and gross margins on new products.

Kurtzman uses Shell Oil as an example in the numbers people category. Shell's business model is based on a matrix with four financial measurements as indicated below.

Shell's Business Model
Revenue Growth Intrinsic Business Value (i.e., Company's Market value)
ROI EVA

Shell management's view is that a balanced group of measurements with a number of soft categories confuses the issue. Their view is that you have to measure the value each activity contributes to the company in financial terms.

Although there are no details in this article in terms of how these companies actually use their chosen measurements, the article does provide another dimension to the controversial issues related to measurements in management and accounting.

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