In previous columns, I have touched on the need to manage change and transitions, own your customers’ experience, prioritize and publish a list of corporate goals and objectives, truly engage your people, and view your organization’s economic playing field differently. This column brings them together.
Origins of The Baldridge Award
Back in the 1980s, when Malcolm Baldrige was US Secretary of Commerce under President Reagan, he was an advocate of quality management as a key to US prosperity and sustainability. He was concerned that we were
losing ground in the international fight for quality and performance excellence and believed it would have a negative impact on the US economy. After he passed away from a rodeo accident in 1987, Congress established the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
The Baldrige Award promotes awareness of performance excellence as an increasingly important element in competitiveness. Just as important though, is that these successful performance strategies and benefits are readily available for organizations that want to replicate them. The content areas and criteria are wide-ranging and deeply probing.
There are seven areas of measurement and assessment: leadership, strategic planning, focus on customers and markets, measurement, analysis and knowledge management, staff focus, process management and organizational performance results.
An award-winning organization must have a role-model organizational management system that ensures continuous improvement in the delivery of products and/or services, demonstrates efficient and effective operations, and provides a way of engaging and responding to customers and other stakeholders. Since the award is not given for specific products or services, it can be used as a road map for almost any organization that wants to move forward.
It can serve you well to know how you are doing in these seven areas. I routinely see people, at almost every level, suffering from misinformation or no information at all about what the real situation is. It doesn’t matter whether I am talking to a mega-organization or a relatively small firm; the one piece of wisdom I share is:
“It is usually not what we don’t know that kills us. It is what we think we know that we don’t that kills us.”
Given today’s economic turmoil, you need to deal with the real stuff in as close to real time as you can. The most effective executives want to know up front what’s working well in their businesses and what isn’t, so they can make maximum use of their time to organize resources, respond appropriately, and build a forward-thinking error-prevention strategy.
When your company car is careening down a steep mountain road in the rain without brakes is not the time to discover that someone had great intentions but didn’t get around to managing the preventative maintenance
program well. It’s important to remember the simple adages from Drucker and others that I have shared before.
“What gets measured gets done. What gets measured and paid attention to gets done faster. What gets measured, paid attention to, and rewarded, gets done repeatedly.”
Questions for You and Your Team
I’ll leave you with questions to collectively answer when you meet with your top team:
- What are we measuring and tracking these days?
- What exactly has to work well for us to deliver products/services that attract customers and keep them coming back for more at a reasonable profit or ROI?
- Are we accurately tracking the right amount of the right things?
- Are we (people, processes, systems) working well together horizontally and vertically?
- How sure are we that we really know which parts are working together and which aren’t?
- Are we tuned into how our people would answer these questions?
This article is republished from American Executive Magazine