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The Official Baldrige Blog

New Year’s Resolutions Based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework

A question for devotees of the Baldrige Excellence Framework: Do people who passionately promote continuous improvement within organizations also tend to make New Year’s resolutions to improve their own well-being?

Seriously, I am wondering if those who fully appreciate the framework’s value in helping organizations improve their performance in all key areas are also likely to apply the Baldrige framework in their personal lives. If so, do Baldrige adherents organize their self-improvement resolutions by

  • the 7 Baldrige Criteria categories,
  • the 17 category items, or
  • the 11 overarching core values and concepts (i.e., systems perspective, visionary leadership, customer-focused excellence, valuing people, organizational learning and agility, focus on success, managing for innovation, management by fact, societal responsibility, ethics and transparency, and delivering value and results)?

Regardless, I was certain seasoned Criteria users and guides could suggest Baldrige-based resolutions for organizations to adopt to achieve better results in 2016. So for fun, I invited several Baldrige examiners and other stakeholders who recently shared their thoughts on Blogrige to recommend “Baldrige Criteria-based New Year’s resolutions.” The resolutions could aim to improve an organization’s performance in any or all areas addressed by the Baldrige Criteria. Or they could be personal resolutions. Following are the submissions I received. From Paul Grizzell, President, Core Values Partners, Minnesota:

1. I will be cautious in providing Opportunities for Improvement (OFIs) to my wife as part of my Baldrige in the Home initiative. I am already doing the vacuuming at home based on an OFI I suggested several years ago. (Note: This resolution is fun but true. The next three are serious.)
2. I will hold myself to as high or higher standard of performance excellence with the consulting services I provide than my clients expect of themselves.
3. I will continue to hold myself to my personal mission of “Advancing Excellence” and my personal Values of “Leading, Learning, Caring and Integrity.”
4. I will look for opportunities to share the value of performance excellence initiatives with organizations.

From Jan Englert, (Retired) Principal of Member Engagement, Premier, Inc., North Carolina:

I will strategically organize “best-fit” activities to progress from reactive to integrated. And by integrated, I mean aligned with my faith, family, and core values.This resolution is based on process improvement (Baldrige Criteria category 6) and being a “learning individual.” (A background note: now into my second year of retirement, I have observed that in the first year, many of my actions and activities were "reactive” vs. strategically aligned with how I want to live my retirement years and leave my story/legacy.)

From Kay Kendall, Principal and CEO, BaldrigeCoach, Texas:

Here are some suggested resolutions that could be used by an individual seeking improvement or by a leader seeking to drive improvement in his/her organization. 1. Resolve to build my vocabulary in support of performance excellence by memorizing the definition of one of the terms in the Glossary every week throughout the year. (However, I will have to continue this through the following year to be able to memorize the full list of terms.) 2. Resolve to use the term "key" to provide focus to my efforts. 3. Resolve to view "learning" in both a proactive and reactive way, seeking to improve processes even in the absence of a problem or negative feedback. 4. Resolve to find relevant comparisons that represent the highest levels of performance rather than remain satisfied with being better than average.

From Barry Johnson, President, Knowledge Engineers, Texas:

How I use Baldrige concepts to make New Year’s resolutions is probably a long way from what you expected, but it might give you a chuckle.
My wife thinks I have a secret mistress code-named “Baldrige” because [as a Baldrige examiner] I ask her to forebear with all the private phone calls from strange women, because I cover up documents when she comes in the office, and because I write secret documents and emails she is not allowed to see. Most disturbing to her are the annual trips I take to undisclosed locations. She also reminds me of the amount of time I devote to the mysterious femme de “Baldrige.”
So this year, I plan to alleviate some of her anxieties by explaining our family finances in terms of the Baldrige model. (Yeah, Barry, that should go over big. Good plan. Reminder to self: Check that insurance policies are paid up.)
Since our anniversary is on 12/31, we operate on a calendar year. Linda was appointed the senior leader in some long past ceremony and, as such, she sets both the vision (e.g., have the husband of her dreams) and the mission (e.g., continuously improve current husband into the vision), and she has set a strategy based on continuous improvement and innovation. We jointly set specific action plans to align with strategic objectives, which are also aligned to internal key work system processes and capabilities (e.g., keep husband satisfaction high, prepare healthy meals, use Fitbits to monitor activity levels, etc.). Workforce (Barry) reports he enjoys his work environment. External work system processes address customer focus and workforce focus. Key business processes are fully deployed and integrated.
Customer service delivery processes are provided by a well-educated staff that receives annual refresher training through key suppliers.
The workforce creates close relationships with customers, based on continuing positive feedback in the form of checks that cash and contract renewals, generating high customer retention, which is a key strategic objective for the business model being used.
Leadership (Linda) tracks current performance data on all indicators and jointly reviews key performance metrics weekly with the workforce (Barry) at regular Friday evening meetings on the north veranda over a Cabernet (or two).
Workforce reports on the client engagement outcomes and satisfaction and on financial performance, using EBITDA format, cash flow, and investments.
The senior leader asks the workforce about his satisfaction and engagement, which, of course, is very high, and they use these real-time data to make adjustments to workforce and work system plans and goals.
She reports leadership, governance, and societal responsibility outcomes. We have identified an important trend in the performance review meeting outcomes. It seems that both leadership and workforce satisfaction increases in direct correlation to the number of Cabernets consumed.
Leadership also reports that the workforce looks much improved after these long meetings. This will be a focus area for additional process improvements in 2016.
Every year before New Year’s we conduct a mock site visit to verify how we are progressing. This year one issue needed clarification.
So I asked the senior leader, Linda, “If I were to die, would you remarry?”
She said yes. I told her that was expected and was OK with me.
I pressed on with more probing SVI strategy questions. “Would you share your bed with the new husband?”
She said yes.
I said, “That’s OK, too. I understand.”
Then I asked the most important SVI question: “Would you let your new husband use my golf clubs?”
She said, “Of course not.”
I said, “THAT’S GREAT!”
Probing for root cause, I asked her, “Is that because you respect my devotion to golf?”
She said, “No. It’s because he’s left-handed.”
That response created a key OFI for 2016: The workforce needs to become more engaged in helping leadership achieve the vision, e.g., become the husband of her dreams.

Readers: If you too have Baldrige-based resolutions (serious or light-hearted) to suggest for improving the performance of organizations and their people in 2016, please share them by commenting below. Don’t forget to point out the connection to the Baldrige Criteria (by core value/concept or category/item). And good luck sticking with your own personal and professional New Year’s resolutions; hope you and your organization (and others with which you do business) achieve high levels of success in 2016!

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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