Once senior leadership has decided to integrate Baldrige, the first thing you need to do is a Baldrige assessment. Read “10 Steps to an Effective Baldrige Assessment” for guidance on how to do this.
There’s no shortcut around this step. Sure, there are Baldrige surveys and abbreviated assessments you can do, but they do not provide feedback about all elements of your management system, nor do they give you an accurate picture of your entire management system. You need a full-blown assessment to effectively integrate the Baldrige model.
The ninth step in the assessment process is to act on the evaluation. The evaluation will have a number of opportunities for improvement (OFIs) across all categories of the Criteria and a few major OFIs that affect multiple areas. Start with these. As a senior leadership team, discuss the evaluation and the OFIs and prioritize them based on what you believe is most important for the short- and long-term success of the organization.
Next, figure out how you will tackle the top two or three OFIs. The reason it’s only two or three is that these opportunities are big, cross-functional gaps like redesigning the strategic planning process, developing a balanced scorecard, or implementing a formal approach to process management. If you don’t have a systematic process in place for acting on these opportunities, this is a good place to begin deploying Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA).
In my experience, at the start of their Baldrige journeys, very few organizations exhibit a process mentality, which is why they tend to score poorly on their initial assessments. Baldrige is a process model. Nearly all of the questions in Categories 1 through 6 focus on your processes. You can accelerate the integration of the Baldrige model by asking and answering these questions about everything you do:
- How effective is your approach?
- Is it repeatable and based on reliable data and information?
- Is it applied consistently and used by all appropriate work units?
- Is it refined through cycles of evaluation and improvement?
- Is it aligned with your organizational needs?
- Does it produce excellent results?
You can see what a process mentality looks like in the award application summaries of Baldrige Award recipients. Read any or all of Categories 1 through 6 in one of these summaries and you will be struck by the consistency of the organization’s approaches to process design, management, and improvement. That’s tangible evidence of integrating Baldrige.
You also integrate Baldrige by focusing on results. If you don’t have a balanced scorecard, set one up. Identify the key measures that will tell you how well your organization is doing and cascade them throughout the organization. As the Baldrige Criteria state, “A comprehensive set of measures or indicators tied to customer and organizational performance requirements provides a clear basis for aligning all processes with your organization’s goals.”
Alignment and integration are characteristics of a Baldrige organization.
Finally, turn the wheel. Do another assessment next year. Act on the OFIs. Consider applying for your state’s quality award or for the Baldrige Award. Act on the OFIs. Compare your processes and results to world-class benchmarks. Act on the OFIs. Turn the wheel.
Integrating Baldrige is about systematic, continuous improvement to achieve performance excellence. Baldrige Award recipients have proven the legitimacy of this approach.
And they all started in about the same place you are starting today.