What Excites Juilliard Students and Brain Surgeons Alike (Insights to Make Your Organization World-Class)

Posted by Christine Schaefer

Think you need gifted people in your organization to succeed? Or that sheer hard work is bound to deliver your desired results? Either way, think again. Geoff Colvin, Fortune magazine senior editor-at-large and author of Talented Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, makes the case that innate talent is not what’s behind the greatest performances in multiple fields of human endeavor. At the same time, he finds that the work it takes to achieve the best performance must reflect a few critical elements and principles. The good news Colvin conveys is that individuals and organizations alike can achieve high performance through the developmental approach he calls deliberate practice. I recently interviewed him to learn more about his insights on great performance and his keynote presentation at the Baldrige Program’s upcoming Quest for Excellence® conference. Following is the interview.

photo of Geoff Colvin

Geoff Colvin; image used with permission

During your Quest for Excellence presentation, will you explain how organizations can improve and excel through such practice?

Yes. First I’ll tell you why I think this is so important and why I strongly believe that it’s more important than it used to be for organizations to do this.

A trend that has accelerated greatly since I was writing Talented Is Overrated is that standards are rising in any competitive field. And the vast majority of the organizations that we all deal with are in competitive fields, even if they’re nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits are still trying to fulfill a mission, and there are forces out there that may well be trying to fulfill that mission better than they do. They may be motivated entirely by humanitarian goals, but they’re still going to have to get better if they want to fulfill their mission.

Of course, in profit-making businesses, competition has been a fact of life forever, but it’s getting more intense. There are a few reasons for this. One is that customers and competitors increasingly have more information and are better able to communicate with one another. What that means essentially is that information costs, transaction costs, and switching costs are dropping essentially to zero. This is what Bill Gates long ago called a friction-free economy, which is a wonderful thing—it’s extremely efficient—but the reality is that lots of organizations actually relied on friction: Life was a little easier for them because customers didn’t know they could get a better deal someplace else. Or even if they knew, it was too hard to make the switch; the transactions were expensive so they didn’t make the switch.

In the Baldrige Program, we work with organizations in the health care and education sectors too that have had to address new challenges as customers and other stakeholders come to them with much information that’s available online these days.

I get precisely the same response when I talk about these things to many different groups. Recently I was talking to a group that was overwhelmingly business people; one member of the audience came up to me afterward and said he was a staff member on a congressional committee. And he said, “Everything that you’re talking about applies to us in government.” And people from universities have come up to me to say that everything that I was talking about applies to them as well.

So in all sectors of the economy, you’re seeing organizations facing more complex challenges in their operating environments today?

Right. That’s really it. We’re all facing these new challenges. To respond effectively—to remain effective organizations—we all have to get better. Depending on the kind of business that you’re in and the kind of organization you are, you may be facing pressures from around the world, even in health care.

We all use the phrase world-class pretty loosely, but the truth is that there is international competition in a great number of sectors today. So we actually have to be world-class. We have to figure out how to get significantly better in ways that we didn’t have to do before.

Everyone wants to get better—that’s all very nice. But the truth is, we have to get better in this more open, friction-free environment. We have to get better if we’re going to stay in the game. So that’s why it’s important to understand this question of where great performance really comes from. Whether it’s for individuals or organizations, the basic principles are the same.

You’ve written that a lot of organizations are not good in the area of developing employees for high performance. Would you please elaborate on that?

Sure. In general, most companies just don’t do a very good job of what a lot of them call leadership development. Whatever you call it, they don’t do a very good job of developing employees. They want everybody to do their job well, and they figure they’ll just observe who does their job well and then give them bigger jobs. What I see happening in recent years is that a lot of companies are realizing that isn’t enough. They realize they need a good strong program of developing employees. They look to the handful of companies that have taken this seriously for a long time. And they’re all getting with the program now and trying to catch up.

That’s in general. The specific issue is that the principles of deliberate practice that I talk about in the book seem to be completely forgotten at most organizations. When I say forgotten, I mean everybody sort of knows them: everybody understands when they’re watching a sports team or listening to a great musician how those people got so good—through the principles of deliberate practice. Yet when they get to work, they don’t apply those principles to individuals or to the organization. What I’m going to argue in my presentation is that the organizations that do apply those principles perform much, much better. The same principles apply to performance of individuals and organizations, and I’ll give examples of each.

Why do you think that organizations are short-sighted in this area or just aren’t making the effort?

In my experience, it’s because they feel they can’t afford to have people not performing. Deliberate practice is an activity separate from the actual performance of the work. There are ways to practice in the work, but real deliberate practice is an activity separate from the work.

Again, when you look at sports and music, that’s obvious. Musicians may spend 95 percent of their time practicing and 5 percent performing; for an NFL football player it’s a similar ratio: 95 percent of his time practicing, 5 percent actually performing the activity that he gets paid for. But in business, we all feel that we can’t take time off from actually doing our work in order to practice for doing our work better.

So most companies don’t do it. The best ones realize that it isn’t an expense when you do that; it’s an investment. And it pays off. A leap of faith is required the first time you start down that road. Even though you may be convinced, you don’t know for sure that it’s actually going to pay off. So a lot of managers just feel they can’t afford it. The best ones understand they not only can afford it, but they really have to do it.

You’ve written that you’ve been surprised by strong interest in your book by some groups of people you assumed would already be aware of how best to improve their performance. Would you please give some examples?

Sure. At the individual level, I got a call from the manager of the bookstore at the Juilliard School in New York to come in and sign copies of the book. I said, “Sure,” but I thought, “If there’s one group of people in the world who do not need this book, it’s the students at the Juilliard School—they got there because they understand deeply everything I talk about in the book.” The manager later told me that it’s the bestselling title they’ve ever carried in that store. So that began to tell me that even the people who understand these principles the best are the ones who want to understand them even better. They want to know how great performance works and why.

A different example but similar in some ways: I was asked to talk to an audience of one thousand brain surgeons. I thought, “These are the smartest people you can think of, and they do this incredibly difficult thing.” So I was worried about how that would go. Well, they loved hearing about what it takes to improve performance. Afterward, those brain surgeons were lined up out the door for me to sign their books. I thought, “This is telling us something—that the people who presumably understand these things got as good as they are because they keep wanting to get better. That’s an interesting lesson.”

With regard to organizations, I’ve had a few experiences that I’ll tell about at the Quest conference. A medical products company decided to prepare for the introduction of a new product using the principles, taking employees away from selling in order to practice and prepare. This was a gamble. You take them out of the field and train them while they’re doing deliberate practice. The results were almost literally off the charts. I’ll explain that in detail in my presentation.

For those organizations whose leaders say, “We don’t have the resources to really invest in our employees, especially to take them off the front line,” how would you make the argument to invest in their workforce?

I would hope that it wouldn’t be a tough sell. When you look at the companies that are famous for investing in their workforces, they tend to be great performers.

One objection that I’ve encountered in companies is managers saying that in today’s environment, young people especially are just not going to stay with them for long. “I can train them, but I’m training them for my competitors,” they say.

But then they discover, “If I don’t offer the training, I won’t attract the best people in the first place.” The other thing they discover is that a lot of those people will stay longer than they expected them to because they like what the place is doing for them.

You’re still going to lose some good people. That’s inevitable. But you’re going to get better people and you’re going to keep them longer than if you didn’t offer the development. So I think it’s actually an easy sell.

What are some other things that you’re focusing on now–and in your next book–that may help organizations improve their performance?

The title of the new book is Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will. It begins with the question, In a few years, what will people do better than computers? It turns out to be a very sobering question because the more you look into it, the more it looks like it’s going to be hard to find things that people do better than computers.

Very intelligent people have said that artificial intelligence can threaten the existence of humanity. Even if you don’t think machines are going to rise up and kill all the humans, there are still mainstream people now who are thinking that for the first time in history, technology may actually eliminate some jobs faster than it creates new ones. So the question becomes, What will people do? What will be the high-value work, what will make organizations great and highly successful, and what will earn a rising living standard for people in a world where computers do more and more stuff—better, faster, cheaper than people can do that stuff?

My answer is, Don’t look for the answer the way people have always done it, which is by asking, What is it that computers inherently can’t do? That won’t get us anywhere. Focus instead on what we as human beings are hard-wired to want to do with other people and get from other people—what is in our deepest nature that we want to do with one another and for one another? If we focus on that, then we’ll be doing stuff that will always have high value, which comes from our deepest and most essential human traits—developing empathy, working in groups, solving problems together, telling stories, building relationships. The best organizations now are focusing on exactly those things. We see empathy-development programs in particular at many organizations.

The research on what makes groups effective—what makes teams effective—shows that it’s all about social sensitivity. It has little to do with the IQ of the team members. It really is important for organizations to understand this in order to perform better.

To hear Colvin’s keynote presentation at the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® Conference on Wednesday, April 15, in Baltimore, MD, register for the conference now.

Posted in Baldrige Events, Workforce Focus | Tagged | Leave a comment

Leading from the Back

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

A shepherd is a person who tends, herds, feeds, or guards herds of sheep. Because sheep shepherdeat grass, clover, and other pasture plants, they can’t stay stagnate in one pasture for too long. The environment changes, and to maintain their health and productivity, the sheep must move from pasture to pasture; thus the importance of the shepherd–keep the flock intact, protect it from predators, and guide it to new horizons so that it can continue to grow. But does the shepherd lead the flock from the front or the back?

Obviously, shepherds have been “leading from the back” for more than 5,000 years (talk about opportunities for cycles of improvement), in one of the oldest professions known to man. Shepherds guide the flock, allowing individuals or small groups to go here and there, testing new ground or new spots to feed, but all moving in the same direction.

So, why am I writing about it here? Because in an upcoming Quest for Excellence® presentation, Kevin Unger, PhD, FACHE, president and CEO, Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies of University of Colorado Health (formerly Poudre Valley Health System), will be discussing senior leaders’ roles in decreasing costs and improving outcomes while leading from the back.

According to Unger, there is great value for senior leaders to take a shepherding role–guiding their workforce, actively participating in improvement, and involving all senior leaders (including physicians) but giving the workforce opportunities to take initiative. For example, “Senior leaders create a focus on action through their active involvement in improvement team initiatives, but the involvement does not mean solving the problems for the teams,” said Unger. He adds, no improvement methodology can be successful if it is not consistently applied–or supported by senior leadership, and front-line staff can problem-solve.

“The visibility of senior leaders is necessary for engaging the workforce in performance improvements,” he said. Senior leadership, including physician leadership, need to be engaged for successful improvements to take place.

His presentation goal is to give audience members (and especially senior leaders) practical ideas on how to become more involved with improvement initiatives without undermining the work of improvement teams. Specifically, he will focus on what senior leaders can do to be actively engaged in both decreasing costs and improving clinical outcomes.

Unger says that Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies learned from its Baldrige journey (it received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2008) the importance of continuous improvement. According to Unger, using the Baldrige Excellence Framework (1) assists in identifying areas where your organization can focus improvement initiatives, (2) provides a structured framework for making system improvements and creating focus, and (3) is a disciplined approach for identifying areas of strengths to build upon.

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.

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Award Recipients, Baldrige Criteria, Health Care, Leadership, Performance Results, Uncategorized, Workforce Focus | Leave a comment

Creating an Organizational Scorecard for the United States Golf Association

Posted by Christine Schaefer

Every year a new cohort of Baldrige Executive Fellows gains intensive knowledge about leading organizations to excellence through cross-sector, peer-to-peer learning hosted at the sites of Baldrige Award recipients. The following interview with Rand Jerris, Ph.D., highlights how a recent Baldrige Fellow applied learning from the leadership-development program to bolster the performance measurement practices of his own organization. Jerris is the senior managing director of public services for the United States Golf Association.

1. Tell us about your organization’s work and your leadership role.

Created in 1894, the United States Golf Association (USGA) is the governing body for golf in the United States and Mexico. Together with The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, we write and interpret the Rules of Golf for golfers around the world, including rules of play, equipment standards, and a code of amateur status. The USGA also maintains a handicap and course rating system that makes the game fair and enjoyable for golfers of differing abilities. The association has also developed strategic goals of making golf more sustainable environmentally and economically, as well as making it more welcoming to a wider, more diverse population of participants and fans.

Our most visible activities are our 14 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, and U.S. Senior Open Championships, as well as the recently announced U.S. Senior Women’s Open, which will launch in 2018. First contested in 1895, the U.S. Open is among the premier events in golf; it is also the economic engine that fuels our investment in the game, generating well over half of our $200 million in annual revenue. With such resources, we are able to support substantive programs that advance the game’s economic and environmental sustainability, as well as programs that make golf welcoming for all audiences. We’re proud to have invested more than $1 billion in the game over the past 12 years.

In my role as senior managing director of public services, I oversee the association’s sustainability and community programs, as well as the USGA Museum (the oldest sports museum in the United States).

USGA Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History at the USGA headquarters in Far Hills, NJ

USGA Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History at the USGA headquarters in Far Hills, NJ. Image used with permission; copyright USGA/John Mummert.

I spend a majority of my time engaged in strategic and operational planning. For the past three years, I’ve led our efforts to improve organizational effectiveness and to create a culture of continuous improvement. While we’re unlikely to pursue a national Baldrige Award anytime soon, we have found that the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence provide an outstanding framework for elevating our performance.

2. Would you please describe your journey to date toward organizational improvement?

Together with the members of our leadership team, I am thrilled with all that we have accomplished over the past three years. While we had existed for more than 116 years, we had never had a formal strategic plan until 2012 (substantively revised in 2014). Since starting our journey in 2012, we’ve also aligned our team behind a renewed mission statement. We’ve articulated our core values for the first time, with active participation by more than 200 members of our staff. We’ve identified, with clarity and purpose, our key customers and initiated key customer feedback mechanisms for all core programs. Last fall, we gathered every member of our staff from around the country for the first time and staged an all-staff retreat to build alignment around our strategic plan, our values (Lead, Serve, Inspire) and a new brand vision. We also conducted our first-ever employee engagement survey. It’s been quite a ride—and the results have been dramatic (and measurable!).

Most recently, we created and introduced a scorecard of organizational measures for the first time. This has been a transformational process. When we started our journey three years ago with the help of Bo McBee (former chair of the Judges Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award), it’s fair to say that the organization was focused on activities, rather than results. In those first days of working with Bo, we conducted interviews with departmental leaders across the USGA. A few of the questions focused on outcomes and measures (e.g., Are you having a good year? How do you know? What metrics do you use to evaluate your progress?). The response most frequently given went something like this: “We don’t have measures; we’re not a corporation.” In our mission-driven culture focused on service to the game, the very notion of metrics and measurement was foreign. Yet we intuitively understood that any organization—for-profit or not-for-profit—could benefit from a clearly articulated set of measures that reflected our strategic priorities.

3. How did you identify the most relevant and reliable measures of your organization’s performance for the scorecard you’ve developed?

The organizational scorecard that we developed is structured around the four core pillars of our strategic plan: Championships, Governance, Health of the Game, and Community. Our Championships pillar centers on the concept of inspiration—how can we elevate our championships to inspire present and future golfers, as well as golf fans around the world? The Governance pillar speaks to the integrity of the game and reflects one of our foundational purposes—to ensure that the game is fair for all who play, and that skill, not technology, determines success on the golf course. The Health of the Game pillar speaks to the sustainability of golf, in particular, to the economic and environmental viability of golf courses. Finally, our Community pillar guides our efforts to foster a game that is accessible and welcoming to all who wish to play. A fifth section of our scorecard speaks to the effectiveness of our operational activities (“support functions,” in USGA parlance).

In considering the metrics that would be most meaningful to our staff and most effective in capturing our desired outcomes, we found it helpful to think about various categories of measurements: metrics that speak to the reach of our programs; metrics that reflect customer satisfaction; metrics that capture engagement with our programs, and as such are reflections of the quality of our programs; metrics that reflect the effectiveness of our products and standards; and metrics that reflect the brand of our programs, which we view as essential to their sustainability.

4. What are some of the key indicators that you chose?

Reach metrics are common within our Championships strategy; for example, these measure the size of the television audience for the U.S. Open (measured in gross ratings points) and the number of users engaged with the digital products that surround our championships (unique visitors to USOPEN.com, as well as the “Championships” tab of USGA.org). Customer satisfaction scores are also critical for our championships because we want to ensure that the best players in the world have the best experiences when they compete in a USGA championship—it’s essential to our efforts to attract the strongest fields. Finally, because significant percentages of annual revenue derive from ticket sales and corporate hospitality sales, we measure customer satisfaction for key spectator audiences at each of our championships.

Engagement metrics speak to the adoption rates of our programs. Within our Governance strategy, for example, we need to know that golfers—from beginners to experts—are engaging with Rules education content. Another key initiative is the international growth of a single handicap and course rating system, so that a golfer from Australia can play a golfer from Austria and a golfer from Argentina and have a fair and fun match. For this to happen, the golf courses in each of these nations must have a course rating that is determined with a consistent and accurate formula. So we’ll measure the number of golf courses worldwide that have a formal USGA course rating.

Among our engagement metrics, none may be more significant than measuring the percentage of golf courses that have reduced maintained and irrigated acreage. As we look out 25 to 50 years at the future of golf, the USGA believes that the most significant threat to the game is water—the cost of water, access to water, and the availability of water. In some regions of the country (southern California being the prime example), water issues are so extreme today that golf courses are being shuttered. Having studied the issue and the various mitigation strategies, we believe that there is one lever that has more impact than any other: reducing the amount of land we irrigate as an industry. To this end, we are elevating awareness of the issue aggressively, and we need to understand how individual golf facilities are responding.

An illustrative example of an effectiveness measure can be found in the governance section of our scorecard: the average correlation coefficient of skill factors on the PGA Tour. As noted above, one of our fundamental responsibilities in setting and maintaining golf equipment performance standards—an important component of USGA Rules—is to ensure that technology never replaces skill as the primary determinant of success in the game. In other words, we don’t want you to be able to buy a better score. To this end, we invest more than $5 million annually through the work of the USGA Research and Test Center to test golf equipment for conformance to established standards (e.g., clubhead size and length; the coefficient of restitution for clubface materials; the size, weight, and initial velocity of golf balls; etc.).

Photo of Mechanical Golfer inside USGA Research and Test Center

Mechanical golfer inside the USGA Research and Test Center at the USGA Headquarters. Image used with permission; copyright USGA/Matt Rainey.

To confirm that these standards are effective and to understand if new materials or designs are providing unfair advantages, we measure the correlation between discrete skills (driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation, average puts per hole, etc.) and overall performance on the PGA Tour—the world’s premier league and the stage on which the world’s most skilled players appear (measured by position of finish). Elevating this metric to the organizational scorecard ensures that we keep a close watch on this correlation.

Finally, we have brand metrics, which speak to the relevancy of our organization and its programs. While we are recognized as the “governing body” for golf, the truth is that we hold no legal authority. Golfers choose to play by USGA Rules and choose to play with conforming equipment only because they respect the game and they respect the USGA. For us to be effective, we need to know that we are relevant to golfers—and we believe that the best measures of relevancy are brand metrics.

5. What was the hardest part of this undertaking, and what resources or learning were you able to leverage to overcome challenges?

Of the many opportunities that we first identified to improve organizational performance, the one that we feared could cause the most disruption was the introduction of organizational measures. It was clear that some within the organization viewed the adoption of measures as another step toward the “corporatization” of the USGA in which we would progress from being a nonprofit organization driven solely by the good of the game to become a for-profit entity focused purely on the bottom line. There were also those who feared that the introduction of metrics would jeopardize individual job security. From such sentiments, we understood that cultural evolution—building an environment of trust across the organization—would be critical for the success of these efforts.

The formal path toward creating an organizational scorecard began with a capstone project that I completed as a Baldrige Fellow in 2013–2014—an invaluable program enhanced by the involvement of Harry Hertz (Baldrige director emeritus) and Bob Fangmeyer (Baldrige director); the talented facilitation of Pat Hilton of the Baldrige staff; and the contributions of Bob L. Barnett as executive in residence. [Editor’s note: As a former member of the Baldrige Program’s Board of Overseers, Barnett played a key role in establishing the Baldrige Fellows program.] Through the Fellows program, I was first exposed to the power of organizational metrics. I would never have imagined that Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (2012 Baldrige Award recipient in manufacturing) or Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital (2010 Baldrige Award recipient in health care) could have much relevance to the USGA, but exposure to their measurement-driven cultures opened my eyes to the power of metrics. The success of Lockheed Martin demonstrated clearly how metrics could be aligned from the organizational level to the individual level to drive both continuous improvement and results. From Advocate Good Samaritan, we learned that a system that advocates complete transparency around metrics to all key customers (patients, their families, their doctors, and all employees) can create a powerful alignment of customer satisfaction and employee engagement that, literally, saves lives.

6. After your organization’s senior leadership team approved a final set of measures for the scorecard, how was the tool introduced and rolled out to the workforce?

To improve internal communications, foster greater alignment across the organization, and ultimately impact employee engagement, our executive director, Mike Davis, introduced a quarterly calendar of “town hall meetings” when he assumed his responsibilities in early 2011. We leverage these town halls to communicate important news about the organization, to solicit questions and feedback from the staff, and to advance initiatives for organizational improvement. One particular theme has been incorporated into every meeting for the past three years: our strategic plan. It is also our intention to elevate discussion of our core values at every town hall following their introduction last December.

It was only appropriate, then, that the formal introduction of the scorecard occurred at our most recent town hall in mid-February (where we also discussed the results of our first employee engagement survey). A member of our staff (but not a member of our leadership team) introduced the scorecard, discussing its structure, demonstrating specific measures, and explaining its purpose for driving organizational improvement. At the end of the meeting, a hard copy of the scorecard, including 2014 baselines, was distributed to every member of the staff; the scorecard also has been posted to our employee intranet site. The first revision of the scorecard, incorporating data through February 28 (the close of our first quarter), was posted to the intranet on March 16. Naturally, the scorecard has also been shared with our board, which will use it to evaluate the annual performance of the leadership team moving forward.

7. How does your organization collect and report relevant results?

As noted above, we initially thought that our greatest challenge might come from employee resistance to measurement. Thus far, this has not proven to be the case—the great majority of staff members are excited and eager to engage.

Rather, the greatest challenge has proven to be the time and effort required to build a system that supports the aggregation and reporting of data on a regular basis. As a small (300 employees) nonprofit organization, we do not have a centralized technology platform (e.g., a customer relationship management database) that supports the centralization of data for our key activities. Our solution—perhaps temporary—is manual and simple: an extensive Excel spreadsheet that sits behind a single-page report.

We realized quickly that the maintenance of the scorecard (and associated Excel spreadsheet) would require considerable effort. To support this work, we restructured the responsibilities of a member of our staff (manager level), and that person is now held accountable for working with individual department leaders or their team members who have been assigned ownership for reporting individual metrics. This latter point should not be taken lightly: We have come to understand that each metric needs to be assigned an owner, and that each owner has individual accountability for ensuring that the system or tool is in place to collect the necessary data and ensuring that the data is being reported.

For example, one of our organizational priorities is to drive greater diversity and inclusion in golf. To this end, we are seeking to understand the penetration of our core programs to diverse audiences, in particular, women and persons of color. As we do so, we recognize that we need to start the actual collection of information on gender and ethnicity, so we realize that we need to introduce relevant questions into championship entry forms, volunteer and committee biographical forms, program registration forms and systems, etc. It’s one thing to say you are going to measure diversity and inclusion in core programs, but it’s a far more complicated process to ensure that the data are actually being collected, aggregated, reported—and, we hope, used to drive improvement.

Finally, for the scorecard to be effective as we roll it out, there is also the need for baseline data. Once we had identified the relevant metrics, assigned ownership, and confirmed the processes for collecting and reporting data, we made an effort to identify relevant 2014 baselines. In some cases, this required staff members to revisit 2014 records and documents to reconstruct data, but the effort has proven worthwhile. In the end, the scorecard contains only five metrics for which a 2014 baseline could not be established, but more than 30 where baselines could be identified.

8. How do you see the scorecard evolving in the future?

As work on the scorecard proceeded, one of the primary challenges was to build alignment across the leadership team as to the metrics that matter most. Based on my conversations with colleagues in other organizations and other industries who had embarked on similar efforts, I learned quickly that this was no cause for concern. Indeed, everyone I spoke to about the process assured me that selecting the best metrics is the hardest part of the project. But I also learned another important lesson that I shared over and over with my colleagues on our leadership team, that is, that it’s far more important to get started with good metrics than to wait to identify the perfect metrics. In fact, I learned that you cannot truly understand what the perfect metrics might be until you get started. The key is to identify measures that you think are appropriate and then be willing and open to refining once you start to use the results and understand how they are impacting the operation. In and of itself, the process of selecting metrics is a process that can and should be subject to continuous improvement. So as we move forward, I fully expect that continuous assessment and refinement of our metrics will occur.

As we get underway, I also have my eye on identifying relevant external benchmarks. While it is one thing to have the ability to compare the performance of the U.S. Open against the Women’s Open, it would be another to be able to benchmark the U.S. Open against other elite tournaments in golf or, even better, against the very best championships in all sports. Unfortunately, the golf industry does not yet have a culture of transparency, so it is hard to find relevant industry data. But we’re committed not to let this prevent us from trying. One of our objectives for the near future is to initiate an industry-wide dialogue about improving the game and bringer greater value to golfers. And we’re going to suggest that the sharing of data across the industry might be a powerful way to drive change for our industry.

Posted in Leadership, Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management, Nonprofit, Performance Results, Strategic Planning | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Support Use of the Baldrige Framework?

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

Why the American Hospital Association (AHA) believes that using the Baldrige Health Care Criteria can help hospitals get better faster was explained recently in an audio podcast by Gene O’Dell, vice president for strategic planning and performance excellence for AHA.

“From a hospital perspective, using the Baldrige model can help you achieve better patient ahaodellsatisfaction, clinical outcomes that are aligned with patient requirements, workforce satisfaction, . . . greater efficiencies and operational performance, and improved execution of your strategies,” said O’Dell.

AHA, which is a sponsor of the 2015–2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework (Health Care), sees the Baldrige sponsorship in alignment with its own performance excellence journey, Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence Initiative, and strategic plan, including strategies to reduce cost and improve care and population health. As a framework sponsor, AHA provided a digital copy of the framework to all of its members and encourages its use for improvement.

“Baldrige is the overall organizing framework that can identify where there are problems,” said O’Dell. “Think of Baldrige like a map that will show the organization where . . . Six Sigma, Lean, and other tools should be deployed. . . . If an organization deploys [such tools] without an overall map as Baldrige, it would be like taking a trip in a car but not having a map to know the way.”

According to O’Dell, organizations—no matter their size or the type of services they offer—can use the Baldrige framework to answer three simple questions:

  • Is your organization doing as well as it could?
  • How do you know?
  • What should your organization improve or change?

“Baldrige helps you to integrate the organization to better align a patient’s requirements with the systems that will deliver what patients want and ensure those are linked to clinical outcomes,” he said. “Baldrige helps focus you on the core values, giving you a systems perspective that is process dependent, not people dependent; visionary leadership, with leaders focused on the future and changing the business model not just running the business. But [the Baldrige framework] has a patient-focused excellence component, too, delivering ever-improving, high-quality health care to patients. And it also really values people. An engaged workforce that finds personal meaning and motivation in their work, and when they receive positive interpersonal and workplace support this really improves the entire organization.”

Added O’Dell, “When you speak with Baldrige Award winners, while they’re honored to have received the award, the real reward is how the process has improved and continues to improve their organizations. . . . Because, you see, pursuing performance improvement is not a destination, it’s but a journey, and more importantly you don’t have to apply for an award to get started in evaluating your organization and identifying areas for improvement.”

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Criteria, Health Care, Leadership, Performance Results, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Word Is Out and It Starts with “H”

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

There have been many studies and articles over the years about characteristics of successful CEO’s. I tried to summarize some of these characteristics, with a Baldrige spin, super CEOin 2013 with A Sense of Comity. Certainly, key characteristics include setting a vision, communicating and listening, and building trust.

A topic that I have not seen discussed over the years is what executives value in their most senior leader. That topic has recently been explored in a survey of more than 1,750 executives in 19 markets worldwide and was summarized in an HBR blog by Leslie Gaines-Ross.  There were three characteristics that were valued most highly. I’ll start with numbers two and three. They are visibility and persuasiveness. 81% of global executives believed that their CEO’s had to have a visible public profile for their company to be highly regarded.  Furthermore, the CEO must convey the company’s story in a convincing manner in both traditional communication vehicles and in digital social media. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence started emphasizing this latter vehicle for CEO communication in 2013.

The number one attribute that executives value in their CEO is humility. And only one out of four CEO’s in the study were described as humble by their executives. However, the study found that highly regarded CEO’s were six times as likely to be described as humble than their less highly regarded peers. Why is such value placed on humility? Because humble leaders are believed to demonstrate many of the other important leadership attributes: motivating and empowering employees, developing shared values, and listening well. They build a supportive organizational culture.

These characteristics of humble CEO’s are supported by a recent article in the Financial Post (Canada). It quotes a study of 63 companies by Yi Amy Ou, an assistant professor at National University of Singapore’s business school. She reported that organizations led by humble CEO’s increased engagement and improved performance throughout the organization. Some additional data on the benefits of a humble CEO from the article:

  • Ego is the culprit of over one-third of all failed business decisions.
  • More than half of businesspeople estimate that egos cost firms between 6 and 15% of their revenues.
  • According to Jim Collins, great leaders possess a rare combination of humility and perseverance.

The Baldrige Quest for Excellence conference on April 12-15, 2015 provides an opportunity to hear from and interact with some role model CEO’s, including the four 2014 Baldrige award winners and Katherine Gottlieb from Southcentral Foundation, who will be recognized for her visionary leadership and will be delivering a keynote presentation.

Whether you can join us or not, how is your organization doing on the “H” word?

Posted in Leadership | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments