Successfully embedding numeric goals (balanced scorecards, benchmarks, diversity)

It is one thing for management of a legal department to set numeric goals, such as to lower total costs by some amount; it is quite another thing to successfully achieve the goal. A quote in The Financial Times (May 23, 2005 at 10) effectively made the point:

“What makes a target good is not just the way a target is expressed [RWM or that is was expressed at all], it’s about the way it was derived, the extent to which [beneficiaries and stakeholders] were involved in its development, the extent to which it helps to achieve policy objectives [and] the extent to which it has the support of the staff whose efforts will achieve it.”

Which is to say, how the law department develops the metric goal, who has a say in the goal, its strategic fit, and its legitimacy in the eyes of the law department all complement the goal itself.

Beyond even that, the article made another point. The purpose of a metric goal for a law department is not simply to satisfy management by meeting the target. It is also to help the law department to learn. Numeric goals, such as reducing the cycle time on EEOC claims, are not ends in themselves but should be used to prod improvement and learning, such as where are the bottlenecks and how can we resolve them more expeditiously.

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