Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon
Yes, I am another year older (and closer to retirement). I am looking forward to celebrating my birthday with my wife and friends this weekend, which is always special and nice. And a couple of my favorite meals are planned, together with dinner at a great restaurant. I am happy! However, the day began with a phone call from the fraud unit at Master Card. Apparently they detected suspicious use of my card at a box store and a restaurant in Massachusetts. The charges weren’t high, but indeed they weren’t mine. My card had not been stolen, but a merchant (or employee) where I used the card had duplicated the magnetic stripe information after swiping my card. The fraud unit was unbelievably customer-focused, assuring me I would be credited for all the inappropriate charges and then offering me the names and phone numbers (to save me the trouble) of the the companies that automatically bill the credit card.
So what does this have to do with the Baldrige Criteria? Actually, let me make one more unrelated observation first and then draw it all together (in my own twisted way)! I recently read a blog posting on the CBS business network, BNET, about the three keys to thriving as a company today. The third was connecting with your customers to build true loyalty. Detecting the fraudulent use of my card was effective use of technology, data, and analysis (Category 4 addresses that), but volunteering phone numbers of companies is definitely relationship-building that goes above and beyond. While the annoyance of needing to get a new credit card is real, my credit card provider has gained my loyalty for how the situation was handled. And the person I spoke with lives in my son’s town and talked with me about a sub shop where I recently charged a food purchase. Connecting with the customer! This is a wonderful example of the focus on customer engagement in Category 3 of the Criteria, Customer Focus.
Now, the other two keys to thriving: 1. you can’t be pretty good at everything anymore, and 2. in an era of turmoil stick with what you believe in. Point #1 in my opinion deals squarely with strategic advantages and core competencies. These topics are central to understanding and practicing Baldrige framework principles. They are threads that are part of the systematic approach to organizational management. Sustaining an organization requires close attention to your core competencies because they will provide your strategic advantage. And building on your strategic advantages is a differentiator for ongoing success. Being pretty good at everything will not deliver ongoing success in a competitive, global marketplace.
How about sticking with what you believe in? How about sticking with Baldrige? It is not the latest management fad, that comes and goes. It is a framework that has withstood the test of time and it is a framework that evolves to always reflect the leading edge of validated management practice and the changing nature of the competitiveness landscape. It is something you can believe in and focus on for continued success.
What is your organization sticking with in these tough times?