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The Official Baldrige Blog

How Do You Harness the Power of Benchmarking?


A few years ago, Director Emeritus Harry Hertz of the Baldrige Program wrote the short brochure "Baldrige Asks, 'How do You Know?'" to make the case that the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence can guide an organization in knowing whether it is high-performing and innovative, whether it is achieving world-class performance, and whether it is satisfying its customers and keeping its competitors at bay.

But, obviously, to answer the question you have to know what best practices and results are out there, among your competitors and among organizations in other industries. The Criteria define benchmarking as identifying processes and results that represent best practices and performance for similar activities, inside or outside your industry. If you don't benchmark, how will you know? But how do you make benchmarking an efficient, value-added activity and not just something else to do?

At the upcoming Quest for Excellence® conference, we'll have an opportunity to learn how at "The Power of Benchmarking" with Allyson L. Young, SPHR, HR & Brand Director of Baldrige Award recipient K&N Management, whose vision is “to become world famous by delighting one guest at a time." Her top-three tips on benchmarking:

  • Benchmarking is critical to maintaining a competitive edge. Studying best practices keeps you ahead of the game.
  • Effective benchmarking creates beneficial partnerships and networking opportunities.
  • Internally benchmarking best practices is as effective as externally benchmarking in driving continuous improvement.

K&N Management received the Baldrige Award in the service industry, where its Rudy's Country Stores and Bar-B-Q Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes, as fast-casual restaurants in the Austin, TX, area, have significantly outperformed local competitors and national chains. Within the service industry, Young offers three key ways that organizations can benefit from use of the Baldrige framework:
  • The Baldrige Framework promotes innovation, which promotes learning and continuous improvement in every part of the organization.
  • Many small businesses, especially restaurants, are family-owned-and-operated and are simply reactive to the environment. When applying the Baldrige Framework, leaders become more disciplined in terms of long-term thinking, which results in being more proactive in problem solving and continuous improvement.
  • Many business owners are concerned about their future and sustainability. The Baldrige Framework provides the guidelines for operational excellence, which results in long-term profitability and sustainability.

What else will you learn if you attend this session on harnessing the power of benchmarking?

  • How to be intentional when benchmarking. Put together a plan and then put it into action
  • How to use strategic planning to determine gaps to benchmark

To learn from this and other sessions featuring role-model Baldrige Award recipients sharing best practices, register for the Quest for Excellence, April 12-15, in Baltimore, MD.

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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