Are You Ready for a CEO Self-Assessment?
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” But is it ever the right time to pursue excellence?
In the past few weeks, we’ve heard from two different organizations that have decided not to use the Baldrige Excellence Framework to drive improvement. Neither was a surprise to us. The first has been dragging their feet for over a year, always finding excuses for “now” not being the right time. The second was immediately detected when we shared our lessons learned in working with 20 clients ultimately named as Baldrige Award recipients. The CEO wouldn’t make eye contact with us when we stated that leading the journey cannot be delegated. This set of CEOs has chosen to avoid using the framework to avoid having to acknowledge problems in their organizations.
What a contrast this has been with the two CEOs we’ve been working with to prepare their organization for their Baldrige site visits this week. Both organizations have been on the journey to performance excellence for years. The CEOs describe the great value they’ve received from the objective, the non-prescriptive feedback they’ve received during that time, and they realize that the feedback received after a site visit will be even more actionable. This set of CEOs committed to using the Baldrige Excellence Framework to solve problems and become better organizations.
What’s the difference between these two sets of CEOs, and which group would you fall into?
A CEO Self-Assessment
1. How do you react when someone points out areas in your organization that aren’t performing as well as they could or should?
a. I brush it off because they can’t possibly know my organization as well as I do.
b. I ask for the data that supports that and then ask for their suggestions.
2. I’m able to keep my organization focused,
a. But the urgent usually takes over the longer-term important objectives. We’re in constant firefighting mode.
b. And we’ve slowly moved from being very reactive to more proactive in our improvement.
3. In my organization,
a. I still struggle with breaking down silos to make improvements in cross-functional projects.
b. I enjoy our culture of teamwork. People really work well together.
4. In my organization,
a. I often get blindsided by a serious customer complaint or employee issue.
b. People regularly stop me to talk about concerns or things they’re excited about.
5. I use comparative data to
a. Ensure that were above state and national averages.
b. Establish stretch goals to compare ourselves against top quartile or top decile performance.
6. I consider our strategic plan to be
a. Highly confidential because we’re in a very competitive industry.
b. Something we shared with all employees so they can identify how they contribute to our most important objectives.
7. I rely on
a. The Senior Leaders to come up with the best ideas. They’re the most educated.
b. Getting ideas from every employee at every level. The people closest to the work understand the issues.
8. I expect
a. People to come in prepared to do their jobs.
b. To invest in training on tools and methodologies, and to give people time to use them to improve their work.
9. I want improvement,
a. But we’ve tried PDCA, TQM, Six Sigma, and/or Lean. Nothing has really stuck.
b. And I know that improvement takes time, and we’re staying the course.
10. I expect high performance.
a. That’s why you only get so many chances to screw up before you’re gone.
b. But I encourage people to take intelligent risks knowing that every effort won’t be successful.
If you answered mostly “a,” then you’re with the first set of CEOs who want to avoid being challenged to address the problems in their organizations.
If you answered mostly “b,” then you’re with the second set of CEOs who sincerely want to lead their organization to better performance. You might already be using the Baldrige Excellence Framework. If you’re not, we encourage you to check it out. You sound like just the kind of leader who would embrace it. https://www.nist.gov/baldrige
However, our bottom line is, the pursuit of excellence isn’t for the faint of heart!