Everyone wants to have a great organization with ever-improving performance. But, as Dr. Deming used to say, “by what method?”
Scenario 1 “Good” – Finds an Excellence Model Late in the Process
Leaders seem to have an insatiable appetite for new management fads and initiatives. And yet, there is seemingly little progress toward creating the performance they desire. I once worked with an organization that had never seen an initiative they didn’t like. They couldn’t seem to say “No” to new ideas. I stopped counting at 50 major initiatives. It was a large global company, but the number of initiatives was so large that no one person in the organization understood what they were all doing and if some were at cross purposes.
Unfortunately, most organizations wander around aimlessly in “improvement land” wasting time and money to incrementally improve the pieces and parts without an overall systems “map” to guide them. The results of this approach are often temporary at best. In scenario #1, the organization eventually finds a performance excellence model to follow, such as Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence (CPE), EFQM, etc. Once they find and apply an excellence model to guide their efforts, their journey begins to get traction, and if they stick with it, they eventually achieve sustainable results. Better late than never!
Scenario 2 “Better” – Finds an Excellence Model Early in the Process
Once the leaders find a map, such as the Baldrige CPE, they begin to make progress toward excellence sooner with less wasted time and money and faster improvement from that point forward. Those that find the CPE map earlier in their journey and use it effectively, experience a much quicker “trip” to sustainable high performance (Scenario #2). So, the sooner you find and apply the Baldrige CPE, the better!
Unfortunately, many who attempt to apply the CPE get frustrated with the slow incremental and expensive process of full-blown organization assessments, award applications, feedback, “fixing” opportunities for improvement, and then full-blown assessment again….
While this approach can be a useful and effective “learning process” as many organizations have demonstrated, many to most organizations that attempt to use the CPE “drop out” and never reach their goal of sustainable excellence.
The success rate is not encouraging – less than 10% of the applicants for the National-level Baldrige award have been recognized with the award. Not to mention those organizations that tried to use the criteria but never applied for a national award. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Given that a wide variety of organizations have successfully used the non-prescriptive CPE, the problem is not with the criteria. If the Baldrige CPE are not working for you, then you are doing it wrong!
Scenario 3 “Best” – Leadership Alignment & Design Approach
While the award process is valuable, the real value from the feedback comes once you have solid systems in place that you can fully describe in the application. Good news! The best way to use the CPE in the early stages of your journey is to use it as a guide to align leadership and the organization and then [re]design the major organizational systems.
A Leadership Align and Design Approach to using the CPE enables you to “jump” from where you are to an aligned and integrated system. It allows you to “skip the line” of incremental cycles of improvement from no systematic approach to a fundamental approach to an aligned approach to an integrated approach in one [re]design step. There is simply no reason to go through multiple cycles of feedback from an award process to get to a systematic system that is aligned and integrated.
Once you have a systematic approach that is aligned and integrated, it still won’t be perfect and will need further development and refinement. That is where an excellence award process and feedback on the systems become valuable to reaching the goal of sustainable excellence.
So, the point here is first to design the best aligned and integrated systems you can. Then, describing them in the award application will be easy, and the feedback from the examiners will be even more valuable and easy to understand (Scenario #3). The Baldrige CPE, EFQM, etc. are effective models that can help any organization create sustainable value for multiple stakeholders. Regardless of which model you choose (or create), the most effective and efficient way to use any systems model is to take a Leadership Align and Design Approach.
Enjoy the journey,