It maintains a solid structure while allowing for a great deal of flexibility, so it can represent virtually any segment you operate in and your unique strategy. And of course, if it matches your company branding and includes your logo, your team will be even more impressed.
If you’re just getting started with your strategy mapping initiative and are looking for some templates and examples, you’re in the right spot! Within this article, we’re highlighting seven strategy map examples—two in the for-profit area, two in the healthcare field, one for nonprofits, and two for local governments—to show how different strategies can be well-represented. We also offer some tips on what to do with your strategy map once it’s complete. (In our view, there’s nothing worse than an underutilized strategy map!)
Note: If you are unfamiliar with strategy mapping—or need a review of the four perspectives in a Balanced Scorecard—this article will bring you up to speed.
There are many angles you could take in a for-profit scorecard depending on your strategy. This particular example comes from a manufacturing organization focused on acquisitions—and you can see that through all four of these perspectives. (Even though they are not listed, the perspectives in each of the teal boxes are, from the top: financial, customer, internal, and learning & growth.)
It’s important to note that in the financial perspective (located at the top of the map), this organization is very specific about driving growth through acquisitions, not just through increased throughput. Being specific about where their growth is coming from is extremely important for a successful strategy map.
Throughout their strategy map, you can see how this organization is prioritizing on the goal of driving growth through acquisitions. For example, they list a goal of identifying and targeting markets for growth in their internal processes (shown in the third perspective). And in the bottom perspective, around learning and growth, they have a goal of making data-driven decisions.
While each of these goals helps drive growth for this hypothetical organization, your organization might have a different growth strategy.
In this example, the fictitious Upward Airlines is a traditional for-profit organization, so the financial perspective is placed at the top. Upward Air has the singular goal of increasing shareholder value because it’s a publicly traded organization, which is reflected in the layout of the strategy map. Supporting the primary financial goal is the customer perspective. The map breaks down what this airline’s customers value most: reliable departures, comparable (to bus or train) travel, and low prices.
The internal perspective shows the airline’s focus on three, big-picture categories; within each category are narrower priorities that offer more specifics. For example, Upward Air plans to foster innovation by prioritizing turnaround times, locations, and routes. Next, the Learning and Growth perspective shows how an organization can incorporate a union environment into its strategy map and overall values. High employee ownership is unusual with unions, but Upward Airlines believes it keeps employees engaged and happy—which then translates to customers being treated well and having fun—so this has been included on the strategy map.
As you can probably guess, this is a strategy map for a low-cost airline—the map for an international airline catering to business travelers would look very different. Balanced Scorecard strategy maps should be tailored not only by industry, but by company. (Get ideas from these examples, but copying and pasting won’t work!)
This sample strategy map is based on a healthcare system that is looking to grow outside of its current geographical boundaries. It is an excellent illustration of how a strategy map is flexible enough to take on the components of your organization’s individual strategy and environment.
The top two perspectives—customer and financial—highlight this health care system’s goals of providing convenient medical care and growing in volume. Both of these aspects are vital to a growth plan. These goals flow down to the “Improved Access” theme in the internal perspective, which specifically highlights expanded patient access in a wider geographic region. In the bottom perspective of learning and growth, one of the objectives is to invest in infrastructure, which further supports the overall theme.
Keep in mind, your strategy is likely different and may have different objectives. It may even have the same objectives, but different definitions and measures. It is not hard to imagine investing in infrastructure as a way to become more modern and efficient without growing geographically.
General Hospital is an example community, for-profit hospital. As a result, the customer (patient) and financial perspectives are equally balanced at the top of the strategy map. This indicates the hospital is trying to provide needed services within the scope of its fiscal limitations and resources. The revenue and budget will determine the extent of the services and treatment General Hospital provides to the community—the focus may be on diabetes for an overweight community or orthopedics for an elderly community.
The internal perspective is divided into four areas of focus, each with a subset of priorities that support the larger category. The four areas all align with the customer and financial perspectives (and mission), even if it’s not immediately apparent. For example, while managing the business doesn’t seem directly tied to the human health outcomes, this initiative is critical to being able to provide more healthcare with limited resources. More specifically, if General Hospital can understand how patients are moving through its systems, it can pinpoint areas of improvement.
Notice that General Hospital chose to place its mission statement in the header of its strategy map and to use the terminology “Culture and Capacity” instead of “Learning and Growth.” These are just two ways you can customize the framework to suit your needs—aside from certain core best practices outlining how to develop a strategy map, you have a lot of flexibility when labeling and arranging sections.
That’s right—a Balanced Scorecard strategy map is an excellent framework for a nonprofit organization. This particular strategy map is for a social services organization that is heavily involved in aiding the surrounding community—and when you take a closer look, you can tell how every objective supports this mission.
One of the primary objectives in the client perspective is ensuring that this organization can provide services to those who need it in their region of operation. In some cases, this means referring individuals outside of their nonprofit. We can see that this bleeds down to the middle internal theme of becoming a voice to those in need by shaping the state agenda, leveraging volunteers, and identifying local needs. Each of these objectives shows that this nonprofit is focused on servicing the local area and making the local and state governments aware of the challenges being faced by their constituents. They provide services and are the voice of those in need in the community.
And in the final perspective of learning and growth, this nonprofit is focusing on ensuring that the staff and volunteers have the tools necessary to meet the needs of the people they serve in order to support their strategy.
For a municipality, the goal isn’t to make money, but to serve the community. As a result, the top perspective in any local government strategy map should be focused on citizens.
Our example city of Metropolis leads with the customer (citizen) perspective, broken down into three areas: safety, activity, and mobility. These three categories are what the community values most, and Metropolis is prioritizing them accordingly. The finances support the citizen perspective. It’s clear from the language that this is not a for-profit corporation—the city wants to prove to citizens it’s making smart financial choices and growing the economy.
The operations perspective also makes it clear that the government is serving the community by focusing on technology, infrastructure, and accountability—each area is geared toward making citizens’ lives better and easier. Underpinning everything is the learning and growth perspective. Building a productive and positive workforce will help Metropolis improve its operations and therefore finances...and ultimately citizen quality of life.
This example city has two perspectives on top: citizens and finances. On the citizen side, the leadership is focused on safety, opportunities, and culture—and that’s taken into account alongside providing transparency and justifying fees and taxes. The municipal leaders know they can’t simply raise a bunch of money to be the safest and most secure; they need to be cognizant of costs and put funds in the places where they’ll do the most good.
The city leadership then breaks down its internal processes into five key areas: safety, health, education, economics, and culture, and identifies the key objectives in each of those areas—many of which are cross functional. This map reflects the reality that, if you want to create a safe, secure, and healthy community, many municipal groups need to work together.
All of these maps are very different from one another—but that doesn’t mean any one is more effective than another. When your strategy map is focused on your unique strategy, it is more likely to succeed. Start with one of these examples and revise the objectives so they describe your organization's strategic plan. Then, work backward to consider how you’ll achieve those objectives.
Note that a strategy map usually does not contain measures; it simply shows the cause-and-effect relationships between certain improvements and desired outcomes (the objectives). The Balanced Scorecard itself includes the specific strategic initiatives and metrics that will ultimately drive performance.
As you probably expected, it’s time to share it! Too many leaders assume everyone understands the organization’s strategy, yet research has shown this is rarely the case. Without an understanding of how their jobs contribute to organizational goals, people may wind up focusing their efforts in the wrong places (or worse, feeling unmotivated to contribute at all). When teams know they’re having an impact, it’s a huge productivity driver and morale booster.
Even if you think you’ve communicated your goals sufficiently, count on doubling your efforts to truly get the message across. This is where strategy maps can help. They are an excellent communication tool because they are both easy to understand and easy to share. As a visual tool, they also help to increase information retention.
To make sure you’re communicating clearly and effectively, consider crafting a series of messages to employees using the inspire/educate/reinforce/listen framework:
Ultimately, strategy maps give everyone in your organization a common point of reference, which is critical for aligning people and departments. For more details on how to develop a strong communication plan, refer to the 4-step process listed in this article.