Procter & Gamble’s feminine-care business unit benchmarked a gecko, flower petals, armadillos, squirrels, and anteaters. That’s way outside the box.
In “Stop Solving Your Problems” (Fast Company, November 2009), Dan and Chip Heath start with an extreme example of solving problems by looking at how others have solved them—i.e., benchmarking—and then move toward a more common example: “For instance, health-care advocates trying to reduce medical errors have learned from total-quality-management experts in the manufacturing world who obsess about ways to reduce product-defect rates.”
The Baldrige model promotes benchmarking in two significant ways:
- The Criteria ask how “you select and ensure the effective use of key comparative data and information to support operational and strategic decision making and innovation.” The Criteria define benchmarking as “identifying processes and results that represent best practices and performance for similar activities inside or outside your organization’s industry.” For P&G, “outside” meant the San Diego Zoo.
- Baldrige Award recipients share their applications online. If you want to improve any part of your management system, one of the inputs should be these applications. Choose a few from the list, read the relevant sections, and figure out if your organization could learn anything from them. If so, you’ll find contact information in the same list.
A lot of organizations throw up their hands when asked about benchmarking because none of their competitors will share. That’s not a problem when you look outside your industry…or visit the zoo.