Those leaders who decide to give Baldrige a spin often focus on the obvious step: conducting a Baldrige assessment. Some may apply for a state award or the Baldrige Award, but most do an internal assessment, which identifies strengths and opportunities for improvement. If the assessment is done right and professionally evaluated, the list of opportunities is long—much longer than any organization can address is one year. As a result, too many organizations only conduct that one assessment, thus missing their opportunity to build a world-class management system.
Baldrige Award winners integrate Baldrige by performing regular—usually annual—Baldrige assessments. The process of producing assessments and prioritizing and acting on the opportunities they reveal institutionalizes a culture of continuous improvement. It keeps everyone focused on what is most important for the organization to grow and excel. It improves the alignment of people and processes with the organization’s goals, objectives, and strategies. Best of all, it delivers results, as the award application summaries of Baldrige Award winners show.
IndustryWeek recently reported on a survey it conducted with TBM Consulting about the impact of continuous-improvement programs on three financial metrics: anticipated revenue growth, operating income growth, and cash flow over the past year. “Across the board, companies with no continuous improvement programs performed worse across all three measures,” Jill Jusko concluded here:
- More than 50% of respondents with no continuous improvement program said they expect revenue growth to be 3% or less in 2012, compared to fewer than 20% of companies with mature continuous improvement programs.
- Nearly half of respondents with no continuous improvement program anticipate operating income growth of 3% or less in 2012, compared to less than half that percent from firms with continuous improvement programs.
- Slightly more than 20% of companies with no continuous improvement programs reported an increase in cash flow over the past year compared to more than 50% of companies with mature continuous improvement programs.
Dabbling in continuous improvement is like dabbling in Baldrige: You may get quick performance bump but it won’t be sustainable. The only way realize the full benefits of integrating Baldrige, which is a proven approach to continuous improvement, is to commit to annual assessments at least until your management system exemplifies the Baldrige core values.
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