Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
Throughout the almost 30-year history of the Baldrige Award, high-achieving organizations that might already be tops in their industries have been attracted to the idea of winning this highest, national, Presidential award for organizational performance excellence—another feather in their caps and highlight for customers and investors. But often, the journey to the award becomes something more. The journey becomes less about the award and more about what was learned along the way.
At the upcoming 29th Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference, Allison Carter, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Public Sector LLP, will be sharing what the Baldrige journey meant to this consulting practice that was already considered at the top of its game among peer organizations.
“We started our [Baldrige] process focused on the award. After a few years of developing Baldrige applications, we realized that if we really embraced the Criteria across our business, we would start to see some major improvements in the business. That makes sense whether you want to win an award or not, right?” asked Carter. “It started out about the award, and it ended up becoming about improving the business.”
Carter said her Quest presentation will focus on the importance of and how to identify gaps in business operations using the Baldrige Excellence Framework.
The process that PwC Public Sector used was to first look at the questions within the Criteria and flag those for further investigation that staff were not able to answer or were answering in different ways, she said. She added that the step of identifying gaps first was important to save a lot of time and headaches, especially if your organization moves to the Site Visit Review of the Baldrige Award process. It was also important to consider what you’re currently doing and how that might stack up with other organizations, Carter said.
“A pitfall that many organizations may run into is something we found. . . . They pick up the Criteria to start writing an application, and they think we’ll just submit and we’ll win an award. And then they quickly realize after one or two times of doing that, a smarter approach is to first figure out where your gaps are and implement initiatives to address those gaps before ever submitting an application. So you’re not wasting your time, and you are focused instead on improving your operations using Baldrige standards.”
An example of a success that PwC Public Sector has had using gap assessment methodology and looking at its Baldrige feedback was an integrated dashboard. Carter said the organization collects a lot of data on different things and uses that data to measure performance, but these data were housed in several different systems owned by several different people.
“There wasn’t one place to go for all that information in one view to use it for effective decision making,” she said. “You could look at system A and system B and patch all of that together and start using it to make decisions, but it would have been much easier if that data was consolidated in one place–not only to look at everything all at once but to compare your performance over time.”
She said PwC Public Sector Practice created a dashboard that pulled all of the information from these areas and systems into one dashboard that staff members could then use to get a holistic view of the metrics that were important to the business and to enhance the ability to make good decisions based on that data.
Other top tips from using Baldrige that the organization has implemented follow:
- Don’t look at Baldrige as an awards program. Look at it as an opportunity to improve your business. “It ultimately is an award, and everybody likes to win awards, but you should be focusing on Baldrige as an opportunity for improving and enhancing business,” said Carter.
- When writing an application, it can’t be aspirational; it has to reflect reality. “It’s easy to write a Baldrige application about what you think you should be doing or what you want to do, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect how you’re operating, which is why identification of gaps is so important,” she added.
At the upcoming Quest for Excellence Conference, in addition to learning about a structured methodology that participants can use for gap identification, Carter said she’ll also be sharing some leading practices that PwC Public Sector Practice uncovered through its own gap identification process.
She added that using the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria “helps you to achieve a higher level of integration and coordination across your business that you wouldn’t necessarily get from using another framework like Lean/Six Sigma. Integration is really a key beneficial factor of using Baldrige.”
To learn more, register now for the 29th Annual Quest for Excellence Conference, which will feature the 2016 Baldrige Award recipients and many more national role models sharing their best practices.