Baldrige is a process model. The first six categories in the Baldrige Criteria ask “how” things are done more than 130 times—and “how” means “what’s the process.” Processes are evaluated based on how systematic and effective your approaches are, how consistently they are deployed, how systematically they are evaluated and improved, and how well they are aligned with what your organization is trying to accomplish. In addition, the Process Management category specifically explores how you design, manage, and improve your key processes.
Here are steps you can take to apply process thinking to your job:
- Identify the processes you participate in. Everything you do is part of a process.
- For each process, figure out who your customers and suppliers are (they may be internal).
- Determine your, your customers’, and your suppliers’ requirements. You all have requirements of the process, i.e, levels of quality, delivery, service, and cost. Ask customers and suppliers what their requirements are.
- Identify measures you can use to evaluate how well these requirements are being met and start collecting and graphing the data for these measures. You can find information about tools to collect and analyze data here.
- When you have enough data (you need three data points to show a trend, so start with three months of data), analyze it to see how your part of the process is performing.
- If there’s a noticeable decline in performance or if the level of performance isn’t very good, use tools your organization specifies to improve it. If your organization doesn’t offer any tools, learn how to use the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology. The basics of PDCA are here.
- Identify benchmarks for your measures. It helps to have context for the trends you are seeing. You may think the results are bad when they are, in fact, pretty normal, or you may think you’re doing great only to find out that the trend is average.
- Offer to participate in teams formed to improve the processes you are part of. This is how Baldrige and process thinking start to infiltrate an organization.
I realize that each of these steps may require knowledge you do not have. Some of it can be found in online training, may be available through your organization, or may be offered at local schools. As I said, personalizing Baldrige requires a little learning—but that’s half the fun.
The other half is taking control of your part in key processes and improving the performance of those parts.