The Baldrige model supports fact-based decisions. Management by fact is one of 11 Baldrige core values. One of the seven categories in the Baldrige Criteria focuses on measurement and analysis. Measurement—“how do you know?”—is woven into questions throughout the other five “process” categories, and the results of your key measures are reported in the seventh category.
Here’s what management guru Peter Drucker wrote on the topic: “Executives who make effective decisions know that one does not start with facts. One starts with opinions.”
According to Drucker, which Stephen Wunker addresses in his post on the HBR Blog Network here, if leaders do not make their opinions clear, they will simply find the facts that confirm what they believe. The problem is that the opinions and the confirmatory facts push the organization in one direction without considering other courses of action. Wunker writes, “Decision makers may have a general sense of stakeholders’ opinions, but in their eagerness to act and to avoid controversy they do not probe to understand these perspectives fully. Rather, they quickly make a decision and then marshal facts to support it.”
In the Baldrige model, the process of understanding opinions and perspectives fully would be part of the strategy development process, which encourages collecting and analyzing data and information to create an effective plan. As a result, decision makers can generate informed opinions based on their interpretation of fact-based knowledge about markets, customers, competitors, internal capabilities, and long-term needs. Rather than basing their opinions on assumptions and best guesses, they rely on data and information. The process starts with the facts.
However, I agree with Drucker that decision makers can be quick to choose a course of action without exploring their different opinions about what the facts are telling them. “Disagreement is a safeguard against being a prisoner of the organization and seeing an issue just as underlings want,” Wunker writes. He suggests soliciting opinions through anonymous questionnaires or interviews by a neutral party, pushing executives to think about the criteria for future success, and linking opinions to fact-based tests that would validate or disprove the opinion.
By integrating Baldrige, decision makers can develop a fact-based strategy development process that encourages dissent and values different perspectives.
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