A Little Wordplay

I know that the Baldrige Excellence Framework is written in a “neutral” manner to avoid language that might sound judgmental or even too glowing. That’s why poorly trending results are described as, “adverse,” rather than “abysmal.” And even improving trends are merely described as “beneficial.”

However, I wonder sometimes if we could have a companion framework that interjected some emotionally-charged language to fire up the procrastinators who tolerate mediocrity in their organizations with comparisons to averages. And maybe give new energy to those leaders committed to a journey of performance excellence.

Work with me here. For the former group, what if we asked instead in 1.1a(2), “How do Senior Leaders promote an organizational environment where a commitment to legal and ethical behavior goes as far as no one being put in prison for their actions?”

In 1.1b we could ask, “How do senior leaders discourage frank, two-way communication?” The corresponding note might reference shooting the messenger, promoting the yes-men and yes-women, and enforcing that Closed Door Policy.

And in 1.1c(1) we’d ask, “How do senior leaders create an environment for success now and until they get their golden severance package after they’ve put their organizations at risk due to bad decisions and lack of transparency?”

Now for the latter group of leaders already committed to a performance excellence journey, what if we added some encouraging, even lofty, language? In 1.1b, we could ask, “How do senior leaders take a direct role in keeping the workforce jazzed about achieving high performance and providing outstanding customer service?”

In 1.1c(1), we could ask, “How do senior leaders create and reinforce an organizational culture where employees flourish and offer their best ideas, taking intelligent risks to contribute innovation?”

And in 1.2c(2), the question could read, “How do your senior leaders role model for their workforce the importance of improving their key communities?”

What questions might you change to infuse them with some challenges and some passion?

Regardless of the language, the Baldrige Excellence Framework’s appeal is its comprehensiveness. It focuses on the organization’s people and processes on improving the results that are most important to its success and those it serves.

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