What are the characteristics of a high-performing organization? What do they do or how do they act to distinguish themselves? What can your organization do to join their ranks?
The Baldrige model has identified the beliefs and behaviors of high-performing organizations. These 11 core values and concepts, embedded in the Baldrige Criteria and in Baldrige Award recipients, are essential to achieving performance excellence. You can find the complete list here and an explanation of each in the Criteria booklets here.
So how do you get your organization from where it is today to world-class status? Twenty years of Baldrige reveal the steps you can take to create a high-performing organization:
- Lead the transformation. It won’t happen without leaders committed to excellence, and it won’t happen without recognizing that the steps you take will transform your organization. Plan the journey, communicate the plan, measure progress, and facilitate change.
♦To learn more, read Is Baldrige Right for Your Organization, 10 Critical Questions: Senior Leadership, and An Achievable Mission and Vision;
- Develop management system experts. You will need these experts to help focus resources and attention on what must happen along your journey. Take a few existing or rising stars and ask them to be Baldrige or state award examiners for at least three years. The training and experience they get will give you the internal expertise you need.
♦To learn more, read How to Become a Baldrige Expert, Make Yourself More Valuable, and The Value of Baldrige Expertise.
- Promote curiosity. No organization can change if it is content with the way things are. Learning organizations challenge the status quo. They seek a better way. And they recognize and reward people at all levels of the organization who take responsibility for improving performance.
♦To learn more, read Climbing the Corporate Lattice and Employee Development and 10,000 Hours of Practice.
- Demand process thinking. All work is process. You cannot prolong your journey to world-class by constantly putting out fires or blaming employees for systemic problems. Ask how you do what you do, identify the steps, and manage and improve the process.
♦To learn more, read 10 Critical Questions: Process Management, Identifying Key Work Processes, 5 Powerful Process Questions, and Process Management: Work System Design.
- Compare with the best. You need context to know if what you are doing is the best course and what you are achieving is truly world-class. Benchmark key processes and key results with those of high-performing organizations. Hold your organization to the highest standards and implement plans that will help you join them.
♦To learn more, read Outside-the-Box Benchmarking, Health System Benchmarks, and Comparative Data for Manufacturers,
- Assess and apply. The only way to keep attention focused on improving your management system is to assess and improve it using the Baldrige Criteria. Many Baldrige Award recipients submitted applications for state awards and/or the Baldrige Award annually for several years before winning the Award—and many continue to do assessments after they won. Start with a self-assessment or by applying for a state award. Use the feedback to prioritize and address your biggest gaps. Repeat the process annually and you will improve.
♦To learn more, read Is Baldrige Right for Your Organization?, 10 Steps to an Effective Baldrige Assessment, and New to Baldrige?
- Drive continuous improvement. Use data and information to identify opportunities for improvement and have action planning and problem solving processes in place to address them. Build refinement steps into every process to make sure the process is systematically improved.
♦To learn more, read Blessed with OFIs and 10 Critical Questions: Process Management.
- Align and integrate. Use your strategic planning and performance measurement systems to align what you do with what you want to achieve. Harmonize plans, processes, information, resource decisions, actions, results, and analyses to support your organization’s goals.
♦To learn more, read Alignment and Integration and Know Thyself—and Act Accordingly.
- Innovate. High-performing organizations are good at everything and great at a few things. To be good at everything you need a culture of innovation that touches all processes. To be great at a few things, you need formal approaches to developing breakthrough approaches in those areas critical to your success.
♦To learn more, read 3 Systematic Innovation Processes and Making Innovation Part of Your Culture.
- Sustain the gains. The first nine steps are a lot of work if you’re going to slack off as soon as you get to the top. To sustain the journey, identify the factors that must be in place and managed to remain world-class and then develop and implement processes to address them.
♦To learn more, read 4 Parts of True Sustainability, Identifying Capabilities Your Organization Needs, and Planning for the Longer-Term.
High-performing organizations have integrated Baldrige by integrating these ten steps into the way they operate. Their success is available to any organization committed to being the best.