The Golden Thread
The Golden Thread is a simple framework for aligning performance metrics with organisational objectives, and therefore individual goals throughout each layer of the business.
Though Golden Thread is a term found across many different disciplines and taken to mean many different things, in the world of business it is used to describe a performance model which seeks to align organisational objectives with accurate measures of success.
The thread seeks to connect the organisational vision with analyses, processes, systems and people; leading to a common understanding as to how the vision, goals and values of the organisation are intrinsically linked to everyday tasks. This alignment is crucial if the business is to improve on a sustainable and consistent basis.
The model places emphasis on the processes which occur at the middle management stage of the organisational process. This stage is often overlooked in other models; however, it is crucial to the oversight of day-to-day tasks, and to the performance and contributions of lower-level employees.
The stages of the Golden Thread create a link between key success factors/performance measures and the overall strategy of the organisation. As employees buy-in to organisational strategy and this shared purpose, it motivates them to make conscious contributions to day-to-day tasks, for which they are accountable. This means that those who deliver on desired objectives have true ownership over their results, and can be recognised or rewarded as such.
At each stage, specific metrics should be identified which can be used to provide a true insight into the performance of the organisation and project, and can be used to set individual goals which are specific and truly contribute to progress. A scorecard can be used to define these metrics, and the flowchart can be used to subsequently design a plan of action to achieve organisational objectives.
Along with the flowchart illustrates in the previous lesson, the Golden Thread can be illustrated as a scorecard which can be used to track results and to structure your action plan. An example scorecard is displayed below; however, it is important to take the time to customise the scorecard to your organisation and the required results.
The best scorecards will not consist of several performance metrics; instead, they will be focused on a few specific metrics which allow you to simply prioritise and monitor the success of your projects.
You can take two primary views when developing scorecard metrics. A Departmental view allows you to identify the interdependencies between various teams or departments. For example, if you wish to increase sales by 5%, you do not simply rely on the Sales department to achieve results; instead, you require input from other departments such as marketing. By utilising the scorecard or a tailored flowchart you can begin to understand how different teams need to be synchronised in order to achieve results. Measures of success should therefore tie in the goals of multiple different departments at the same time.
A Multi-Tier view is used to enable all tiers of the organisational hierarchy to understand how they can achieve results, within that tier's specific range of influence. Within one team, team members may have one goal for the month, their line manager another goal, and the middle manager above them, another goal. This system needs to be in place both up and down the organisation to ensure coordination between the performance of senior management and that of their subordinates.
Any scorecard or set of performance metrics should consist of at least four primary dimensions:
1. Finance. This includes metrics based around specific financial values, including costs, revenues, expenses and profits.
2. Operation. This defines the operational metrics which contribute towards financial goals, including sales numbers, time to close a deal, etc.
3. Customer. The customer dimension contains metrics which contribute to interactions with customers, including growth to the consumer base, or client satisfaction.
4. Resource. This dimension contains the requirements for the organisation at hand to function successfully, including skill and competency levels, employee retention, etc.
These dimensions should form the basis of any performance measurement system, and are key to the successful operation of an organisation or specific project. When these are properly constructed, employees are aligned with organisational goals, and have a complete understanding of what they are required to achieve for company success.
These dimensions can be included in both the scorecard - used to measure success - and a flowchart, which can be used to designate the journey towards specific goals.