Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon
OK, you ask, what could the G8, a distinguished Harvard professor, and the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence possibly have in common? It all started with an HBR blog post by Rosabeth Moss Kanter after the G8 Forum in Paris late in May. Professor Kanter needs no introduction to the business community or readers of the Harvard Business Review. But did you know that she served as a member of the Baldrige Board of Overseers and has written a foreword for Baldrige 20/20, our new executive guide to Baldrige to be published in August?
But back to the topic at hand. The Forum focused on the power and challenges of the internet. Some interesting facts cited by Professor Kanter include the findings of a McKinsey study that internet economic output is bigger than Spain and growing faster than Brazil. Seventeen thousand people are employed by eBay, but 1.3 million people earn a living from it. With these and other facts as background, Professor Kanter’s blog post made the point that four things never change (and here is where I bring the Baldrige Criteria to bear):
1. A great customer experience differentiates winners from losers.Winners are made not by their internet technology, but by the quality of their customer experience. That is why the Baldrige Criteria are so focused on customer satisfaction, satisfaction relative to competitors, and engagement to build a longer term relationship.
2. The human side is critical to the use of technology. Points were made that the biggest barrier to the spread of e-technology use in education and health care is the professionals discomfort with their use. That is why the Baldrige Criteria specifically ask how you ensure that hardware and software are user-friendly.
3. Money needs to change hands. The point was for all that internet provides “free,” people still need to earn a living for what they produce. That is why Financial and Market Outcomes is now the last item of 17 in the Baldrige Criteria, the bottom line for any enterprise.
4. Government and business still talk past each other. The point is it’s still about social, legal, and ethical responsibility and that is the responsibility of business and government collectively, in internet or any other commerce. That is why the Baldrige Criteria start with Senior Leadership and Governance and Societal Responsibilities. It does not get more basic than those primary concepts for conducting ethical business.
So there you have it. The world and business change at a rapid pace, but basic principles still are bedrock. That is why the Baldrige Criteria are about strategy, innovation, and good common business sense. Your thoughts are welcomed!