A Cheer for Getting Older

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

Some of my friends commented that Harry the “Cheermudgeon” was too “mudgeonly” in my most recent Blogrige post. So, I decided it was time to cheer. Here is a cheer to getting older. The topic came to me this past week, when I was given a senior citizen Thursday discount at the girls 2015local supermarket without asking for it — despite the fact that I don’t look a day over thirty! (I didn’t know the discount even existed until my wife told me.)

Another great joy of getting older is substituting grand-parenting for parenting. This summer we had the pleasure of giving our kids a break and hosting our granddaughters (in shifts with some overlap) for almost three weeks. At the end we were exhausted, but it was awesome! They are three, six, and ten years old and a real change after raising two sons.

Naturally, we were totally focused on exceeding our customers’ expectations! However, we also had the opportunity to utilize three additionally important categories of the Baldrige Excellence Framework: Strategy (category 2), Operations (category 6), and, of course, Results (category 7).  A focus on work systems allowed us to consider all that was important, make sure we were prepared for our assignment, and delight our customers! (It also gives me another opportunity to show how work systems can be applied in all “businesses”.)

I defined our key work systems as: provision of room and board, entertainment, daily close-out (aka bedtime), and emergency preparedness. We quickly decided that room and board would be an internal work process involving our own staff (my wife and me), entertainment would involve ourselves and external suppliers, daily close-out was also an internal work process, and emergency preparedness would involve us and a key external supplier.

External suppliers for entertainment included several local parks and pools/splash facilities, a large amusement park, a local carousel and puppet theater, a museum, and Wolf Trap National Park for a Disney concert. We contracted much of the entertainment to those best equipped to provide them efficiently and more cost effectively than if we decided to develop in-house resources!

With three children in the house, emergency preparedness comprised prevention — providing a safe “work” environment (our work process) — and also preparing for disasters. Disaster preparation involved having a pediatrician on call 24/7, even though our good Baldrige friend Don Lighter fortunately never had to be notified that he was on speed dial!

And now for the results! I have to admit to being in the early stages of reporting results. We have no trends or comparison data, but we have measured what was important. Customer engagement was high and repeat business is anticipated by our loyal customers. Workforce satisfaction is high, although it dipped during a prolonged three year-old temper tantrum and on a few daily close-outs. Supplier performance was a consistent 9 or 10. We had one “accident” that resulted in the involvement of an unanticipated supplier, a plumber. We had no emergencies and never needed to call on our medical supplier.

Oh, and one possible unintended consequence of our customer engagement might have happened. We might have victimized a key stakeholder — parents who had to re-introduce more stringent customer engagement processes!

I hope you had a good summer and that your work systems performed well!

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5 Responses to A Cheer for Getting Older

  1. Bill Anderson says:

    As an old-timer myself, I prefer the mudgeonly Harry to the old geezer, as – from a 63-year-old on the prairie.

  2. Tedd Snyder says:

    Given that your grandchildren are still young, as a part of your strategy, do you anticipate a need to develop a future core competency involving social media, to either assist your young customers in using it (thus enhancing your brand image with them) or (possibly to prevent emergencies), limit their access to it? Will you use social media, before a future visit, to communicate and build alignment with your key partners (parents), and to anticipate and adapt product and service offerings to meet your young customers’ requirements? Will you use data and information gathered through social media to monitor your young customers comments about your day to day operations in order to resolve complaints promptly and effectively? Or is social media a topic for a future update on your grandchildren…?

  3. Jan Englert says:

    Delightful perspective from the one and only Harry! Being Gramma Jan to 5 BOYS who have now aged into ranges from 6-14, I can certainly use this example to apply to grandparenting some preteens and one teen! Will have to work on the providing entertainment part (there are a few OFIs for this age group), but exceeding expectations usually comes through post-meal scoring …am aiming for the highest band! Recently received a “2000” on a scale of 1-10 for my ribs! Guess the way to a teen boy is through a system God designed! (The digestive one). Much cheer & joy to all the grandparents in our Baldrige family..,

    • Harry “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon” says:

      Thanks Jan and others who have written me to give further “Baldrige” interpretations of grand-parenting!

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