How the Cheermudgeon Started His Birthday Celebration

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 Credit card frauda 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?


About Barbara Fischer

NIST Baldrige
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4 Responses to How the Cheermudgeon Started His Birthday Celebration

  1. Harry uses the phrase ‘Baldrige framework principles’ in his post. I’ve been wondering about the ‘principles’ idea recently (as I design and write a post graduate business excellence qualification that will rely heavily on Baldrige).
    Are there any Baldrige principles? Is the idea of ‘principles’ at odds with ‘non prescriptive?
    I don’t believe that Baldrige is principle based. it’s not a belief system. Does using language that implies it is confusing, and does that give the Baldrige deniers more ammunition? I’d love to read some opinion!
    Malcolm Macpherson

  2. Michael Voss says:

    Interesting question Malcolm.
    While the criteria categories and items themselves are non-prescriptive, asking ‘What’ or ‘How’, there is a lot of ‘prescription’ elsewhere – for example in the notes – e.g. reference to lean. Also the values, or ‘principles’ which have been found to be ‘common’ to all (excellent) organisations, are prescriptive – telling you how you need to behave. The language is confusing, as it is in many instances where trying to learn new things. There is a dilemma here – if we choose a term that has been used before then people may leap to the wrong conclusion about what is actually meant. Choosing a new word/term means we will have to define it, but then it may appear to be ‘confusing’ (in our current it-has-to-be-intuitive world)- hence the reason why the glossary is there and is so important. Whatever language is used will create its detractors anddeniers. It is healthy that we have different approaches to expressing the values of succeessful organisations, and on-going debate that leads to the two yearly update cycle.
    The criteria will always be complex since our organsations are far from being simple, but this should be no excuse for using confusing language. If we look at the most signficant changes in the recent past most have been to improve flow/clarity and simplify language. This work needs to continue or otherwise the Baldrige deniers will have more ammunition. Afterall we do need to listen to the voice of the customer.

  3. Malcolm,
    It’s good to hear from you. Are you and yours safe and sound in New Zealand?
    In my opinion, the Baldrige Core Values are the principles of Baldrige. I encourage leaders considering a Baldrige journey to read the Core Values only. If they believe that they align with what is important to their organization and what they aspire to for the organization, then the Criteria are an appropriate “road map” to help them get there.
    I think Baldrige is unique in having this belief system. The Core Values help leaders determine whether Baldrige is appropriate for them…though I cannot imagine an organization that would argue that any of the Core Values are inappropriate. But it makes a compelling case for “Why Baldrige?”

  4. Harry Hertz says:

    You all caught me in a non-careful use of language. When we write criteria language we always try to be very accurate and careful in our use of words. I probably tend to be less careful when I am blogging. Watching every word is a chore; blogging should be fun. (That’s not to say I don’t love criteria writing.)
    With that as a general comment, let me be specific about this blog post. I agree with Paul that the Baldrige “principles” are the Core Values and Concepts. However, when I referred to “Baldrige framework principles”, in my mind I was thinking about some of the terms that are a consistent thread through the criteria items, like core competencies, innovation, and organizational learning.I don’t see these terms as prescriptive, but part of a systems approach to organizational performance management. I hope this helps.
    And Malcolm we are all thinking of you in New Zealand and hope you are managing to cope and start to recover.

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