Has your organization hit a “slump” of so-so performance? Not really a downturn but nothing to celebrate? How can you lift your organization up into a zone of high performance? The overarching principles of the Baldrige Excellence Framework may be just what you need.
Dr. Harry Hertz, Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, once distilled the Baldrige Excellence Framework into three simple questions:
- Is your organization doing as well as it could?
- How do you know?
- What and how should your organization improve or change?
The second question begs for relevant comparisons. Without them, it’s easy for senior leaders and, therefore, the rest of the organization, to become complacent with the current performance. But how do you determine what is relevant for your organization? In some cases, it may be your direct competitors, but that data may be difficult to obtain. What about similar processes in dissimilar industries? Call centers needn’t be in your own industry to be relevant to assessing your own call center’s performance. Sometimes, even your own experience as a consumer can provide valuable insights into good – and abysmal – customer service and service recovery.
High Performance Benchmarks
Many benchmarks may be found in the application summaries of Baldrige Award Recipients posted on the NIST website.
What is different about benchmarking versus goal setting? In the former, the performance standard has already been achieved. It answers the doubters about whether that high level of performance is even possible. However, ambitious goal setting can be equally motivational.
Aggressive Goal Setting
I’ve been reading Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman. In 1889, two rival newspaper publishers challenged their top-notch female reporters to beat the record of Julius Verne’s fictitious hero, Phileas Fogg, to circumnavigate the world in eighty days. That may not sound like such an achievement with today’s air travel, but this challenge took place in the days when the only options were trains, ferries, and steamships. And the timetables for arrivals and departures were even less reliable than today.
Despite numerous obstacles, both women beat the fictional record of Phileas Fogg. However, Nellie Bly arrived at her destination before Elizabeth Bisland and claimed the winner’s title. In fact, prior to this book, I had never realized that Nellie Bly had a competitor for the honor. There is a special place in people’s memories for those who come in first.
What’s the needle on your organizational dashboard that you’re most in need of moving? Would either of these approaches motivate your workforce to higher levels of performance? It’s time for you to put those three simple questions encompassing the Baldrige Excellence Framework to work for you.