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Transformation with Excellence

For more than 25 years, Baldrige Excellence Framework has been used by thousands of organizations around the globe to improve performance and achieve excellence. Baldrige criteria is known as the “Gold standard” for performance excellence. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) updates Baldrige criteria every two years to address latest challenges and rapid changes in the market.

The Baldrige framework represents the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practices. It is designed to help leaders guide and drive their organizations to achieve excellence.

Many organizations achieved successful transformation using Baldrige Excellence Framework. Tata group, the largest Indian conglomerate, transformed itself from a $4 billion domestic company in 1991 to a $103 billion global enterprise by 2014, with focus on excellence and continuous improvement using Baldrige framework. The company went further and developed the Tata Business Excellence Model (TBEM), which is based on the Baldrige Criteria and used this model to transform all its companies to achieve highest performance. Other organizations such as, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, McDonald, Ritz Carlton have also adopted Baldrige and created internal performance excellence awards and recognition programs.

The purpose of the Baldrige Excellence Framework is simply to help your organization—no matter its size, sector, or industry—answer three questions: Is your organization doing as well as it could? How do you know? What and how should your organization improve or change? Baldrige explores these questions in seven critical management areas (six interrelated process categories and a results category):

  1. Leadership

  2. Strategy

  3. Customers

  4. Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management

  5. Workforce

  6. Operations

  7. Results

Adopting Baldrige Excellence framework requires humble leaders who are willing to accept the facts and are prepared to learn in order to effectively integrate the Baldrige criteria into their management system and guide the organizational transformation. Baldrige program is not a quick fix solution, or flavor of the month, it is a way of doing business and results show that leaders who used Baldrige framework to transform their organizations have successfully achieved world-class results.

Baldrige focuses on core values and concepts such as; system perspective, visionary leaders, customer-focused excellence, Valuing people, Organizational learning, Delivering values and results, Management by fact, and Ethics and transparency. These beliefs are the foundation of the Baldrige excellence framework and are embedded in high performing organizations.

Organizations face internal and external challenges, while many leaders focus on the external ones, most of these challenges are rooted back to the internal problems within the organization. Nowadays, many organizations have ethical challenges and transparency issues; starting from taking decisions based on personal opinions rather than facts and data to taking actions influenced by self-protective behavior that create confusions and harm the organization’s stakeholders. Leaders of low performing organization either ignore these issues or try to treat them by centralizing all decisions, which leads to delay actions, increase disengagement and create a culture of bureaucracy

Baldrige help leaders promote an organizational environment that demonstrate legal and ethical behavior and create a governance system that ensures accountability for senior leaders’ actions, Accountability for strategic plans, fiscal accountability and transparency in operations. In his book The Advantage – Patrick Lencioni describe organizational health as the real infrastructure that carry any transformational program. The health of an organization provides the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.

Baldrige focuses on processes, which are the steps and methods used by the organization to perform the work, the framework helps organizations assess and improve their processes to ensure effective and systematic approach, consistent deployment across the organization, continuous learning and improvement and alignment with organization’s needs and goals. Many organizations want to grow their market but they forget that in order to grow externally they need to grow internally, such grow can’t be achieved without continuous learning and consistent processes.

Baldrige also focuses on results; not just the financial ones but also the results of key processes and systems to show how efficient and effective your operations are. Typical organizations have green, yellow and red indicators to show their level of performance, this is just one dimension “Level” used in Baldrige to interpret results, other dimensions such as Trend, Comparison, and integration are also used in the framework to ensure continuous improvement, focus on excellence and harmonization across the organization to achieve highest performance. Everything in Baldrige is based on data and nothing is left for personal opinions or feelings, Jim Collins described great organizations, in his book “Good to Great”, are the ones whose leaders confront the brutal facts and create a culture wherein the truth can be heard.

Baldrige management framework also focus on linkages among the different key processes in the organization, this is an essential element of the system thinking and perspective. Peter Senge, Professor, Leadership and Sustainability at MIT and author of The Fifth Discipline, said; Successful leaders need to be systems thinkers who are open to developing a variety of new skills. They must find the right leverage points and see where actions and changes can lead to lasting improvements. They must ask the right questions and learn the new rules of engagement in order to stake out leadership for the future. Baldrige help leaders ask those questions and understand how to simplify those complex systems existing in many organizations.

Finally, Baldrige focuses on improvement through assessing what important to the organization, how well the organization is doing the job, how mature the processes are and how good the outcomes of these processes are. Leaders can rely on Baldrige criteria to create a culture of continuous improvement and a system that align and integrate all efforts across all divisions and departments to achieve successful transformation with excellence.

Mohammed Alomairy, PhD. MBA, MSIE, CLSSBB, PMP.

Innovation & Performance Excellence Researcher, Consultant & Judge.

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