Robert S. Kaplan

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Creator of the Revolutionary Balanced Scorecard; Foremost Authority on Performance Management and Strategy Execution in Business and Health Care

Biography

“What you measure is what you get.” These words introduced Robert Kaplan’s landmark Harvard Business Review article The Balanced Scorecard – Measures that Drive Performance, heralding a new era in performance management that enabled leaders to clarify and communicate their strategic vision and align people, business units and resources to it. More than 20 years later, these words – and the revolutionary strategy execution tool that it defines – are even more relevant today.

Named one of Financial Times’  “Top 25 Business Thinkers,” the Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor has dedicated his career to helping companies look – and move – forward. Perhaps most renowned as co-originator – with management consultant, Dr. David Norton – of the Balanced Scorecard, one of the most successful and widely used strategic management tools in the world, Kaplan also co-developed the concept of activity-based costing. He is actively collaborating with HBS professor and leading authority on competitive strategy, Michael Porter, to apply the approach to health care, as detailed in their Harvard Business Review article How to Solve the Cost Crisis in Health Care.

In his research and writing, speaking and consulting, Kaplan makes compelling cases for how leaders can link their performance and cost management systems to strategy implementation and operational excellence – shifting the lens of assessment from traditional financial metrics to nuanced interrelationships that look at the full organizational structure and mission. His most recent work has developed a new framework for risk management, showing how to integrate risk management with strategy development and implementation.

Kaplan has co-authored, with Norton, numerous books focused on the Balanced Scorecard concept, how it works and best practices for implementation, all published by Harvard Business Review Press, including “The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action” (1996); “The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment” (2000); and “Alignment: Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies” (2006). Their most recent book, “Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage” (2008), helps business leaders successfully execute their business strategy for measurable benefits. Together, these books have transformed the business strategy landscape.

Elected to the Accounting Hall of Fame in 2006, Kaplan received the Lifetime Contribution Award for Distinguished Contributions to Advancing the Management Accounting Profession from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in 2008 and the Lifetime Contribution Award from the Management Accounting Section of the American Accounting Association (AAA) in 2006. He also received the Outstanding Accounting Educator Award in 1988 from the AAA, the 1994 CIMA Award from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK) for “Outstanding Contributions to the Accountancy Profession,” and the 2001 Distinguished Service Award from IMA for contributions to the practice and academic community.

Former Dean of the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie-Mellon University, Kaplan received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T., a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University and honorary doctorates from several distinguished international universities.

Robert S. Kaplan is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Biography

“What you measure is what you get.” These words introduced Robert Kaplan’s landmark Harvard Business Review article The Balanced Scorecard – Measures that Drive Performance, heralding a new era in performance management that enabled leaders to clarify and communicate their strategic vision and align people, business units and resources to it. More than 20 years later, these words – and the revolutionary strategy execution tool that it defines – are even more relevant today.

Named one of Financial Times’  “Top 25 Business Thinkers,” the Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor has dedicated his career to helping companies look – and move – forward. Perhaps most renowned as co-originator – with management consultant, Dr. David Norton – of the Balanced Scorecard, one of the most successful and widely used strategic management tools in the world, Kaplan also co-developed the concept of activity-based costing. He is actively collaborating with HBS professor and leading authority on competitive strategy, Michael Porter, to apply the approach to health care, as detailed in their Harvard Business Review article How to Solve the Cost Crisis in Health Care.

In his research and writing, speaking and consulting, Kaplan makes compelling cases for how leaders can link their performance and cost management systems to strategy implementation and operational excellence – shifting the lens of assessment from traditional financial metrics to nuanced interrelationships that look at the full organizational structure and mission. His most recent work has developed a new framework for risk management, showing how to integrate risk management with strategy development and implementation.

Kaplan has co-authored, with Norton, numerous books focused on the Balanced Scorecard concept, how it works and best practices for implementation, all published by Harvard Business Review Press, including “The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action” (1996); “The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment” (2000); and “Alignment: Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies” (2006). Their most recent book, “Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage” (2008), helps business leaders successfully execute their business strategy for measurable benefits. Together, these books have transformed the business strategy landscape.

Elected to the Accounting Hall of Fame in 2006, Kaplan received the Lifetime Contribution Award for Distinguished Contributions to Advancing the Management Accounting Profession from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in 2008 and the Lifetime Contribution Award from the Management Accounting Section of the American Accounting Association (AAA) in 2006. He also received the Outstanding Accounting Educator Award in 1988 from the AAA, the 1994 CIMA Award from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK) for “Outstanding Contributions to the Accountancy Profession,” and the 2001 Distinguished Service Award from IMA for contributions to the practice and academic community.

Former Dean of the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie-Mellon University, Kaplan received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T., a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University and honorary doctorates from several distinguished international universities.

Robert S. Kaplan is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Implementing Shared Value Strategies through New, Corporate-Led Ecosystems

Global corporations face severe challenges today. Despite two centuries of growth and wealth creation, the twin problems of poverty and inequality remain pervasive in the developed and developing worlds. Residents in many African, Asian and Latin American communities remain in extreme poverty, and those in rural and working-class communities in developed economies have experienced recent and significant socio-economic declines. Companies, however, find it hard to envision a business case for tackling these monumental social challenges. The chasm between corporate behavior and poverty, contends Harvard Business School Professor Robert Kaplan, can be bridged.

Shared value strategies enable corporations to design new business strategies that create economic value for shareholders while improving the quality of life of residents in distressed communities. Shared value strategies require new ecosystems of supply, talent development and distribution to deliver measurable economic value to all participants and social benefits to local residents. Professor Kaplan shows how these strategies should be co-created with all the players in the new ecosystem – corporations, communities and their residents, NGOs, external funders and local intermediaries – and implemented using the Kaplan-Norton strategy map and Balanced Scorecard. The co-creation process not only establishes the measurement system to quantify benefits, but builds relationships and trust across organizational and sectoral boundaries, allowing all participants to win in the new ecosystem. Further, the strategy map and Scorecard provide the mechanism, previously missing from shared value strategies, for an ongoing accountability and governance system for the new ecosystem.

Balanced Scorecard + Leadership = Successful Strategy Execution

In today’s business environment, strategy execution has never been more important. Though executives may formulate an excellent strategy, it easily fades from memory as the organization fights fires and tackles day-to-day operational issues. Robert Kaplan shows how to make strategy execution a continual process by combining existing management processes and functions, such as finance, HR, IT, operations and innovation, into a holistic strategy management system. Kaplan, co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard – the world’s leading management tool for strategy execution – shares several success stories, and discusses the one common element that is both necessary and sufficient for implementing strategy: exceptional, visionary leadership. Without it, he says, even the most comprehensive management system cannot deliver breakthrough performance.

Solving the Cost Crisis in Health Care

U.S. health care costs are nearly 20 percent of GDP and continue to rise; other countries spend less of their GDP, but are experiencing the same upward trend. Explanations are not hard to find – an aging population, new treatment developments and perverse incentives among them – but few acknowledge a more fundamental source of escalating costs: the system by which they are measured. Robert Kaplan, leveraging findings from his ongoing work with two dozen leading health care institutions around the world, discusses how valid cost measurement is building a foundation for transformational improvements in health care delivery, including clinician-focused process improvements, enhanced capacity utilization of personnel, equipment and facilities, and innovative bundled payment reimbursements that reward high-quality and efficient providers. Drawing from his current initiative with Harvard Business School colleague Michael Porter, Kaplan explains how helping clinicians, managers and payers focus on value-based health care delivery will drive better outcomes at much lower costs.

Managing Risks

As companies adapt to the aftershocks of the global recession, risk management is increasingly a top priority for senior executives and boards in the private, nonprofit and public sectors. The financial crisis revealed that risk management processes are not effective when they are siloed, fragmented and delegated. Severe individual and organizational biases inhibit candid discussions about the assumptions and risks of enterprise strategies. Robert Kaplan helps managers think differently and better about their risk management processes: how to identify the different types of risk facing your company, how to achieve an appropriate balance between innovation and risk, and how to make cost-effective investments that protect your company from the consequences of uncertain and unexpected events. While recognizing the importance of strengthening existing compliance and internal controls, he advocates that managers focus their attention on the risks inherently created by their strategies as well as the risks that arise from external, non-controllable events.

Measuring and Managing the Profitability of Products and Customers

Managers are often surprised to learn that only a small percentage of customers generate substantially more than 100 percent of their profits; the remaining customers are either breakeven or unprofitable. Robert Kaplan, co-developer of activity-based costing (ABC), talks about how he is applying the new and improved version of this powerful costing approach to help manufacturing and service companies understand the economics of their products, services and customers. Through time-driven ABC, companies have the ability to assign virtually all organizational spending down to individual products and customers, enabling them to see for the first time where they are truly making and losing money. With this fact-based knowledge and analysis, Kaplan discusses the multiple ways companies can transform losses into profits quickly – leading to dramatic improvements within 6-12 months – without “firing customers.”

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Recommendations

“I have been following Robert Kaplan for the last 15 years. Never have I heard him so energized before. He is among the best presenters I have heard. He has developed the BSC to a holistic framework for Enterprise Performance Management where strategy and execution are the core components. He is a unique story teller that combines research with world leading practical examples. He keeps the audience fully engaged throughout the day.”

Tor Inge Vasshus, Founder & CEO, Corporater AS

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Kaplan, Robert S.

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