In last week’s post, I presented a method for a more productive new year. Central to this process is what I referred to as the personal scorecard. In this week’s post, I would like to review the personal scorecard in more detail.
The concept of a personal scorecard is not new. Benjamin Franklin used a scorecard, although he called it a plan of conduct. As the name implies, Franklin was interested in changing his behavior, replacing bad habits with good. In his plan, he listed thirteen different behaviors. Each day when he failed to exemplify one of these virtues, he made a mark. As he reviewed the plan, he identified which areas he needed to focus on improving. Through his version of a personal scorecard, Franklin developed a method to remake himself into the person he wanted to be, to realize his own potential to the fullest extent. Franklin’s method worked because he developed a habit of being the person he wanted to be.
Jocko Willink, author and motivational speaker, makes the point that both success and failure are the results of habit. One visit to the gym does not get you in shape. One large meal does not cause obesity. Getting in shape is a matter of going to the gym regularly over a long period of time. Obesity is the result of continually making poor eating choices. Our repeated daily actions become habit which in turn becomes our character which in turn determines who we are. Therefore, we should, as Franklin did, foster good habits while suppressing bad ones.
The personal scorecard assists us in creating good habits in three important ways. First, it provides accountability; on a daily basis, we are reporting how we are progressing towards our goals. Second, it is motivational; every day we are reminding ourselves of our ultimate strategic goals, keeping them at the forefront of our minds. Third, it provides data for objective analysis; during our retrospective, the personal scorecard provides the information we need to evaluate our performance as well as understand how well the tactical plan we have defined is helping us achieve our strategic goals. So let’s look at the details of creating a personal scorecard.
The first step is to create a worksheet that tracks your weekly activity as shown in the example below. The first column lists the activities that make up the tactical objective. In this particular scorecard I have three tactical objectives; develop music skills, exercise, and develop technical skills. The detailed tasks for each objective are listed beneath it. For example, develop technical skills is broken down into prepare for the AWS exam and study Python. Beneath the skills, I listed the virtues I would like to develop. For example purposes, I used six of the cardinal virtues.
The columns B through H are the minutes I spent each day on an activity. The time spent on these individual activities is then aggregated up to the tactical objective giving me a total number for that objective for that day. Also, note that the virtues are simple binary indicators. Did I practice patience that day? Was I kind to others? Column I contains the total for that activity for that week, again aggregating up to provide one weekly number for the tactical objective.
The graphs to the right provide a visual reference to the weekly details of the tactical objectives. They provide a quick view of how well the activities within a tactical objective are being balanced. As we progress through the week, a glance at these graphs informs me where I should focus on that particular day to make sure that I have a balanced approach.
The second step is to create a totals page as shown in the image below. Each row represents a week while each column represents the total for that tactical objective for that week. As you can see the date column is set up with a filter. We will see how this is used later. To the right of the details columns, we have an average column for each of the tactical objectives that we will use in our dashboard. Not shown here is a virtues aggregation page which is set up using this same strategy.
The third step is to create the dashboard shown in the image below. The first row provides a graph of our strategic objectives. The second and third rows report the performance of the virtues. The red line represents the average for each category. By creating a separate column on the totals page for the averages, as described above, I am able to plot an average line. As I go through my week, I attempt to do slightly better in each category than the average. Of course, if successful over a number of weeks, this will push my average higher.
Finally, as I had noted on the aggregation page, the date column has a filter. Using this filter, I can focus on a particular month or period of time. Again, refer to the image below.
How you create your personal scorecard is up to you. At the beginning of every year, I go through and set up my scorecard for the year based on my tactical objectives for that year. Some prefer to copy their weekly worksheet, adding the references in the totals page when they do. You should do whatever makes you sense to you. The only caution I would make is that you should make sure however you do it that it is not a process that requires a great deal of time. This entire methodology should be lite weight, something you can do quickly and easily on a regular basis.
Remember, the point of these tactical goals is to lead us to realize our overall strategic objectives. Each one should be a step closer to attaining that end. David Hume said “habit is all-important, you can condition yourself to act in certain ways. You organize yourself to become a certain character and you imprint it through habit. Until it becomes second nature.” By regularly tracking our daily activities, we can make our character, we can more than simply achieve personal goals, but become the person we want to be. In next week’s post, I will describe defining our strategic objective in more detail.