The Intelligent Company

December 29, 2010
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Book Review

The Intelligent Company: Five Steps to Success with Evidence-Based Management by Bernard Marr (2010, WIley).

Book Review

The Intelligent Company: Five Steps to Success with Evidence-Based Management by Bernard Marr (2010, WIley).

I was first introduced to Bernard Marr’s work in 2004 when he wrote “Business Performance Management: Current State of the Art” for Hyperion while I worked there, and then later in this excellent book:

Strategic Performance Management: Leveraging and Measuring Your Intangible Value Drivers

Marr has taken his extensive experience in Enterprise Performance Management, Balanced Scorecards, Strategy Maps (and the list goes on), combined it with the latest research and case studies on analytics, business intelligence, and other areas, and boiled it down to a holistic framework for Evidence-Based Management (EbM).

While the framework is simple & straight-forward, the components (people, processes, data, technology, culture) that make it up can be far-reaching and complex – hence the need for this book to bring it all together.

Some of the highlights of this very accessible book, for me, include:

– the intersection of EbM and Enterprise Performance Management;
– 21 pages of Balanced Scorecard and Strategy Maps examples and better-practices;
– treating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as performance conversations;
– good introduction to developing and using Key Performance Questions (KPQ’s);
– the importance of experimentation and testing (and the removal of bias) in business performance;
– excellent summary and recommendations on various data collection methodologies;
– tips on visual business intelligence and creating performance dashboards;
– the importance of addressing culture as the foundation of success in EbM.

The book is loaded with quite a few real-world examples from organizations including:
Tesco, BMW, Enterprise Rent-a-car, Thomas Cook, UK NHS, Scotiabank, Purolator, Saatchi + Saatchi, Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Yahoo, CapitalOne, Harrah’s, Coca Cola, and eBay.

I would like to have heard more on Marr’s take on how EbM enables the debate in business, perhaps within experimentation & testing or scenario development, or in choosing options to make decisions and commitments, but that is a small nit to pick in this sweeping handbook for the design and implementation of an evidence-based management system and organization.

Highly recommended.