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The Official Baldrige Blog

What Happened to the Leading Edge of Validated Management Practice?

Baldrige Framework Diagram

Baldrige Framework Diagram

Credit: Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

For those very careful readers of the Baldrige Excellence Framework, you will notice a subtle change in 2015-2016. We no longer refer to the framework as representing the leading edge of validated management practice. Are you now thinking we have abandoned our guiding principle for revision of the Criteria? Are you wondering what guides us now? Read on!

Our definition of management has always been in the context of organizational performance management which begins with the role of senior leaders. Over the course of time the word "management" has taken on a meaning in many organizational environments as the work of front-line and mid-level supervisors and decision makers, in contrast to leadership who set the strategy and inspire the organization to achieve. The first few sentences in the definition of management in the Business Dictionary illustrate this point, "The organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives. Management is often included as a factor of production along with machines, materials, and money." While that is clearly not the context in which our guiding principle is viewed, it is the reality of many organizations today and we must be clear in our intent. Baldrige starts with the role and actions of senior leaders and encompasses the strategic and operational aspects of organizational success. That posture is reflected, more clearly we believe, in our new guiding mantra contained in the 2015-2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework. The Baldrige Framework represents the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice.

Baldrige starts with the key roles of leadership: setting vision and values, exhibiting high ethical conduct, communicating, and guiding performance to achieve the mission. And it is an a-to-z guide that ends with measuring all key dimensions of organizational performance: product, process, customer, workforce, leadership and governance, and financial and market. It is also an organizational maturity model that unites the leadership with performance in an integration dimension that links results to the responsibilities of leaders and their role in creating change. Baldrige represents the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice.

We have not abandoned our guiding principle, we have made it more explicit. Is your organization on this journey?

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

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"... the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice?" W. Edwards Deming remarked that if he was to reduce his message to management to just a few words, it all had to do with reducing variation. The definition of variation in the Business Dictionary includes the following: Inevitable change in the output or result of a system (process) because all systems vary over time. Two major types of variations are (1) Common, which is inherent in a system, and (2) Special, which is caused by changes in the circumstances or environment. The broader description of variation and itsl link to quality available on the ASQ website:
Agreement and concurrence with Harry's view on leadership's role, and focus changes of the 2015/2016 BPEP Model is significant and pleasing to see. Inclusive of design and configuration, Harry' thinking articulated in this article is coincidently in line with the PDCA operational excellence focus of the NEW SA Excellence Model for 2015. THANK YOU HARRY!
Great topic and discussion. I interact regularly with corporate level leadership and then visit the subordinate units that have to enact the policies and programs designed and communicated by senior leaders. I have to say that my observations and experience is that while senior leaders must be well grounded in management theories and experts in variation reduction, leadership is still the most influential aspect of senior leadership within an organization. While difficult to define and measure, it is often the difference between organizational success or failure.
A distinction between "leadership and "management" is a distinction without a difference. It is highly unlikely a "senior leader" or a senior leadership team will produce "a composite of organizational results" without relying on a group of managers at several levels to perform "actions of execution" for the "visionary" and "strategic" ideas senior leaders promulgate. Are those actions "leadership," too? Execution is the key set of actions that achieves every visionary and strategic idea. See the online Gallup article, "One in 10 People Possess the Talent to Manage." Their research finds that the link is "manager talent --> engagement --> excellence." See… Summary • Talent is the natural capacity for excellence • Managers with high talent are better brand ambassadors • Managers with high talent are more likely to focus on strengths "Successful people have similar talents. And managers are certainly no exception. Gallup describes manager talent using five "talent dimensions": 1. Motivator, 2. Assertiveness, 3. Accountability, 4. Relationships, and 5.Decision-Making. Gallup determined that these five dimensions of manager talent are the greatest predictors of performance across different industries and types of manager roles (such as general manager, field manager and team manager). " "Gallup's research reveals strong correlations between talent and business outcomes such as profitability, sales and productivity. When Gallup examined manager talent, we discovered even more evidence linking this vital element to organizational performance"
Barry, I agree with your comments on the critical role of managers and their talents. I would add that leadership is exercised throughout an organization by senior executives, managers and front-line employees. The purpose of the change in our guiding principle for the Criteria revisions was not to discount the critical role of managers, but to emphasize that responsibility starts at the top of the organization with senior executives who must exercise roles of leadership in setting vision and values, exhibiting high ethical conduct, communicating, and guiding performance to achieve the organization's mission.

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