The Baldrige Award Application Process
Application Preparation Services for the Baldrige, State Awards, European Quality Award, or Shingo Prize
Mr. Bodinson’s article, Preparing an Excellence Awards Application, appears in the May 2005 issue of Quality Progress. Contact us for a copy
Most people don’t realize that the processes and skills needed to prepare an application are different from those needed to examine an application. Fortunately, we have developed effective proprietary methodologies and tools for preparing and strengthening applications. We also help companies to efficiently prepare for site visits. Our approach has been developed using our experience as a Baldrige Examiner, Texas Award Judge, and Shingo Prize Examiner. Our processes have been refined as a result of working with 18 Baldrige recipients, 35 state recipients in 12 states, and 8 AHCA/NCAL Gold Award recipients. This is one of the best records in the United States.
We help organizations improve their focus, alignment, and linkages. Recently, an executive exclaimed, “Wow, now I can see how all of these things that are so important to our business work together as a system.”
We help organizations do a better job of telling their story in a way that emphasizes the things that make them unique and a role model. We are extremely creative in the use of figures, graphs, and tables to make their story easier to illustrate.
We help them understand how to write an examiner-friendly application. This makes it easier for examiners to score their application. This results in a higher score and a higher probability of a site visit.
We train and calibrate the writers so their tasks are more efficient and there is less re-writing.
We review applications at any stage of development and provide coaching for how to improve the application. This results in a higher score…a 100-point increase is typical. We also score and write feedback reports.
Importance of earning a site visit. It is important to invest the necessary effort in an application to assure it is examiner friendly and it scores high enough to receive a site visit. This is because feedback reports after a site visit are much more useful than reports that are based on just a reading of the application alone. Also, when an application is well written, examiners can spend their site visit time on identifying your organization’s real strengths and opportunities for improvement. When an application is good enough to receive a site visit but isn’t examiner friendly, the examiners spend most of their site visit time trying to figure out things and their feedback report won’t be as useful.
Application Tuning Service
If you want to produce an application that earns the highest score you are entitled to, then you need to learn how to write at the 70-85% range.
The first reason for targeting this range is the Scoring Guidelines description of the organization’s achievement level for approach, deployment, learning and integration is easy to understand for the Process Categories 1-6. The Results Category 7 assesses your current level of performance, trends, comparisons, and linkage to what is most important to your stakeholders.
The second reason is that it helps increase the probability of a site visit. Even if you miss the 70-85% range and score in the 50-65% range for each item, you are still in the range needed for a Baldrige Performance Excellence Awards site visit and certainly what is needed for most state or regional programs and the AHCA/NCAL Quality Award Program. The Shingo Prize scoring guidelines are calibrated differently and a score of over 700 is needed for a site visit.
We provide our clients a calibration service. Contact us and we will ask you to select your strongest Process item (Categories 1-6) and your strongest Results item (7.1-7.5). We evaluate and calibrate these using the Criteria and scoring guidelines at the 70-85% target range. Having a coach score your sample items and provide feedback will help you improve your score. Then, you can apply this learning to all Categories and Results itmes. Learning how to write at the 70-85% range early helps you avoid time-consuming rework.
Here are examples of our coaching to help an applicant better focus and align the application, which will help them receive all the points to which they are entitled:
“As we discussed on the phone, your organization must first build a strong and complete response for Category 7. After ensuring that we have the necessary and sufficient results in Category 7, we can enhance them with benchmarks. Failing to do that, your organization will receive a low score. Seven pages is extremely light for Category 7, which is worth 45% of the potential points. Looking at the other charts, we can help get benchmark data for a number of them. But again, a bigger issue is that this Category needs to be expanded with more results. Here’s how to do it………”
“You have done a good job matching the key requirements and expectations listed on page 4 of the Organizational Profile with parameters that are measured and covered in chart 7.1-2. However, the examiners will want to know if the key requirements and expectations differ by customer group, and how do you know if they do.”
“In addition to the customer groups and market segments shown on page 4 of the Organizational Profile, the examiners will also analyze page 1 of the Organizational Profile where it describes the five customer segments: Business Partners, Sales Partners, Dealers, Direct Sales, and End Users. However, only two of these segments have measures in the draft. Currently, 7.1 contains measures for the End-Users (Figure 7.1-2) and the Sales Partners (Figure 7.1-3). What results are available for Business Partners, Dealers, and Direct Sales?”
This coaching,when implemented across all the Items in Category 7, will raise the score by more than 100 points. In many cases, these extra points are needed to receive a site visit. And you can’t become a recipient without first receiving a site visit.
We also can review a draft of your application and provide coaching on how to make it more examiner friendly, responsive to the Criteria and Scoring Guidelines. Contact us to discuss your needs and how we might help.
Application Project Phases
Plan and assess. We work with you to develop a detailed project plan and to identify initial gaps. This helps you to identify and achieve early improvement opportunities.
Gather and organize inputs to application. We conduct an award application “Boot Camp” to understand application data, develop a storyboard and templates as guidelines for collecting data, identify additional gaps and train the people involved. This allows us to focus the team on the right content and assures efficient application development.
Write, review and submit application. We start with training you to write the strongest process category first and the strongest results item. Using the Criteria and Scoring Guidelines, we target the 80 percent range for points. The BaldrigeCoach.com coach scores and provides feedback to improve the score. By learning how to write at the 70-85% range early, rework can be avoided. First and second drafts are written and reviewed. Only the final draft is carefully proofread. We can even provide proofreading services.
Prepare for site visit (if selected). We begin preparing for the site visit while the application is being written. Part of the preparation is learning to clearly and concisely communicate the major themes of the application. Additional learning is gained from the preparation and the actual site visit, and this process helps develop a Performance Excellence culture within the organization.
Identify and document gaps. The preparation of the application and the Feedback Report help you identify gaps and Opportunities for Improvement. By documenting these, together we can create action plans that lead to improved performance.
Continue improvement. By continuing to evaluate and improve the application and internal processes, BaldrigeCoach.com can help you achieve improved performance and recognition.
Award Application Boot Camp
Thousands of organizations have used the Criteria for Performance Excellence to assess and improve performance of the critical factors that drive their business. Writing an Award application is an important step toward improving an organization’s performance. Many organizations have learned that it’s very hard to do it without an experienced coach – and even then, a significant time and effort investment is required.
We facilitate a 2-day Award Application Boot Camp where participants apply process templates for preparing an application, which makes it much easier and efficient to respond to the Criteria. We then help you prepare your application page allocation and application project plan. We help you write a more examiner friendly application. We provide ongoing coaching and review of the application to help it receive a higher and more accurate score. This increases the probability of a more useful feedback report.
It is important that your organization learns to write an examiner-friendly application. A well-written application makes it easier for the examiners to award you all the points your organization is entitled to. Often 50 points can make a difference in receiving or not receiving a site visit. Also, when an application is well written, examiners can spend their site visit time on identifying your organization's real strengths and Opportunities for Improvement. When an application is good enough to receive a site visit but isn't examiner friendly, the examiners spend most of their site visit time trying to figure things out and, consequently, their feedback report won't be as useful.
Acting on your Feedback Report
Organizations contact us because they need help understanding and acting on their Feedback Report from the examiners. They need help prioritizing the recommendations and creating action plans to turn Opportunities for Improvement into improved results. We can help you close any gaps examiners find with a world-class best practice.
Contact us today to see how we can help you act upon your feedback to drive improvement in your organization’s performance.