Reservoir and Rivers Analogy of the Strategy Mapping & Reporting Technology

Mark Robinson, Founder of explains how the Strategy Mapping & Reporting Technology works…

What is your organisation's highest level objective?

In Escendency we call this your Vision. You may call it something else but let's imagine for a moment it is represented by a reservoir.

How do we know if the reservoir is deep enough for the time of year so that those depending on it will be able to survive and thrive? We'll use a depth gauge to tell us how full the reservoir is (Vision fulfilled) compared to where it should be this time of year.

The reservoir is filled by Rivers. The rivers represent your strategic objectives, e.g. environment issues (river 1), social issues (river 2) and economic issues (river 3). They could be anything and you can have as many as you like.

The rivers can vary in size representing their relative importance to each other so that they become capable of contributing different volumes of flow to the reservoir. We can measure the rate of flow using the flow gauge.

Of course a bigger river will make more of a contribution to filling the reservoir than a smaller river flowing at the same rate. The rivers are supplied by various tributaries, again varying in size depending on the contribution you want them to make. We can measure the flow of these tributaries too.

Ultimately the whole river system is supplied by springs. The springs represent the things you want to measure in the real world, i.e. performance indicators. We can measure how each spring is flowing compared to how is should be for the time of year by using a gauge.

The most critical springs for filling the reservoir will be those connected to the overall widest river systems; but water doesn't always just bubble from the ground just like performance indicators aren't always on target! So what happens if a spring fails to flow as it should?

When the tributary it is supplying is a small tributary this may not matter so much as far as the reservoir is concerned but If it is a bigger spring or a whole series of them the level of the reservoir will be affected significantly. We need to increase the flow.

We bring in a pump which represents an action plan. When it is activated some flow is restored but if it stops pumping we are back where we were before. The pump needs energy or people to operate it. This is a certain type of ongoing action plan, or process, requiring ongoing resources.

There is another type of action plan which might work - digging out the blockage. Digging the spring out can help the flow if that is what is appropriate. The shovels represent a one off action plan, or project, which when completed should have a permanent effect on the flow. The beauty of this kind of action plan is that the resources can then be redeployed onto another spring or river system.

When all major flows are restored the reservoir reaches optimum depth for the time of year and all is well.

The Escendency System brings all these things together so you can see the big picture and everyone involved can see how their contribution matters.