Cascading System

The cascading system of performance measurement represents a formal approach to linking individual and departmental objectives and strategies with organization-wide goals and priorities.  Performance measures are linked to goals and objectives in a strategic plan or by formal, written organization-wide priorities.  Goals (and associated measures) cascade downward from organization wide-goals to subsidiary units (e.g., departments, divisions or other subsets).  

The following diagram depicts a cascading system.

Cascading System Image

The main purpose of a cascading system is aligning departmental efforts with organization-wide goals and priorities and creating a mechanism to track if those efforts have been achieved and their impact.  Such alignment is possible in even the most complex organizations as the example demonstrates below.

Example:  The Greater London Authority, United Kingdom

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is the regional government for London. It is a strategic authority that is part of a wider group of organizations that are together known as the GLA group and include the police, fire and emergency planning and transport authorities as well as the London Development Agency.

To manage this organization, the GLA has developed an extensive planning process that aligns the efforts of its organization with the Mayor’s priorities.   The figure show below depicts the corporate plan and associated priorities for the GLA from 2007-10. It outlines the main areas of work the GLA will be undertaking, the outcomes and the tangible benefits to be achieved in order to deliver the Mayor’s vision for London.

The GLA corporate plan operates at three levels: high level strategic aims; long term objectives; and a set of annual directorate-based deliverables. As part of the corporate planning process, the organization agrees how these objectives will be met in the medium term (the three year horizon of the plan), and then the specific deliverables each directorate will achieve to meet these objectives over the coming year. In turn these aims, objectives and deliverables are translated into individual performance plans.  The themes (similar to the organizational purpose or goals) strategic aims and long term objectives are depicted below.

Cascading System Example

Each sub-unit of the GLA then develops action plans for each objective with which it is involved.  The GLA uses performance measures to monitor compoletion of these action plans as well as over-all long-term impact on the aims.  For example, for objective 1, “Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Other Harmful Emissions” the Mayor’s office has developed the following action plan:
  • Implement the Climate Change Action Plan to reduce emissions across London using the GLA group as an exemplar.
  • Support the Mayor’s international leadership role on climate change.
  • Effectively communicate the Mayor’s policies and messages on climate change through a comprehensive media and marketing campaign, and through the London Energy Partnership.
  • Work with the LDA to facilitate the construction of a Zero Carbon Development at Gallions.

The longer-term impact of these actions or strategies on reducing harmful emission is measured using the following metrics:
  • Emissions of PM10 (LSDC), NO2 (LHC) Carbon (LSDC)
  • All developments referred to the Mayor include a minimum of 10% renewable energy

In this way the GLA is aligning efforts across the organization with higher-level goals and using performance measures to monitor the achievement of departmental actions as well as the resulting impact on higher-level goals.