Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Benjamin Franklin’s balanced scorecard

Benjamin Franklin is known as a great American leader and diplomat. He was a signatory to the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

He is less well known for the little scorecard he devised, which is a shame because it is quite something: balanced and still instructive.

Benjamin Franklin developed a plan with 13 virtues he wanted to live his life by. He monitored his plan using a small grid containing the days of the week and initials for the 13 virtues.

He gave each virtue one week’s focus so that after 13 weeks he had worked on all 13. After 13 weeks he would start the process over again.

He kept a little book and every evening he would review the day and put a dot next to a virtue when he considered he had failed to live up to its qualities.

His goal was to live without having to put any marks on his chart. To start with his charts had lots of dots, but in time they grew clearer. Eventually he reduced his dependence on the charts, but he always carried the little book with him as a reminder.

He followed the plan to the age of 79 when he wrote about it. He said that he was even more determined to stick with it for his remaining days because of the happiness he had enjoyed by following it.

Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues are quite unique and unfortunately rather out of fashion. Yet they obviously served him well since he is one of the most respected and most accomplished men in the history of the United States.

His determination to live a good life, and his methods of achieving his goals, are instructive to anyone interested in Performance Management.

His 13 virtues, each with short descriptions, are given below:
  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.

  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

  3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.

  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.

  6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.

  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

  8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.

  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

  12. Tranquillity: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

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