David McMillan | Palladium - Dec 11 2023
David Norton's Life of Impact

David Norton, 1941-2023

One of Palladium’s co-founders and friends, David P. Norton, has passed away. We are grateful for his significant contributions to business practice globally and for the mark that he leaves on our company. We endeavor to continue his legacy through our mission and client work, and so do I.

David is best known to the global community as a preeminent business thought leader. His multi-decade collaboration with Robert Kaplan created the management discipline of strategy management. This collaboration produced five books and countless articles, including the seminal 1992 Harvard Business Review article, “The Balanced Scorecard – Measures that Drive Performance” and the capstone book The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage.

It is hard to overstate the significance of David Norton’s mark on management thought. The Balanced Scorecard was surveyed by Bain & Company to be one of the top ten management tools globally for many years alongside pervasive tools like mission statements and customer satisfaction surveys. Harvard Business Review named the Balanced Scorecard framework one of the most influential management ideas of the past 75 years.

“Countless organizations around the world have used the Balanced Scorecard and other Norton codified or improved strategy management frameworks to make real impacts on their customers, employees, shareholders, and other stakeholder groups,” says Abdullah Alnabhan, Palladium Middle East Regional Director.

Personally, I’m still amazed at how often we start working with a client and discover that they use the Balanced Scorecard. This happened just recently on a development project for a mining client in West Africa where we learned that the Balanced Scorecard toolset is a corporate standard for their planning globally.

It’s been a privilege to continue the work of evolving the Balanced Scorecard for the needs of today’s businesses, as Dr. Kaplan, myself and others have done – hopefully doing justice to the foundation Dave built so many years ago.

Of course, David Norton’s legacy is not just the management tools, but also his relationships. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Melissa, three children and their spouses, 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He also leaves behind a large community of former colleagues and clients. In his decades of running consulting companies, Dave worked with hundreds of clients, taught thousands of senior organizational leaders, and invested energy in hundreds of staff. The seeds that he personally planted through mentorship, collaboration, and teaching continue to yield fruit in thousands of organizations around the world today.

“I’ll always remember fondly the years of our relationship, working and travelling together in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa,” Palladium co-CEO Jose Maria Ortiz told me this week. “There were many laughs. He was a great man.”

Of all the principles of strategy management that David Norton proclaimed, the one that I think best reflects the person was ‘keep it fun’. He knew that any journey is challenging, including that of accomplishing any strategy, and that finding ways to include fun is crucial. Dave did this well in life as he learned to fly, bicycled across America, hosted company holiday gatherings, and brought joy to the office.

“We will miss David Norton,” says Ortiz, “yet we have every confidence that his impact will be perpetuated by the lives that his friendship and ideas have touched.”

I believe deeply that this is true.