How Do You Know?

We’ve been working with a new client for the past 6 months.  We’ve never seen a CEO and other senior leaders so quickly embrace the Baldrige Excellence Framework and the Core Values and Concepts.  In fact, in nearly every leadership meeting, the CEO challenges the group with, “How Do You Know?”  This was one of the key illuminating moments for him at the Quest for Excellence Conference in April.  We told him how much this would please the originator, Dr. Harry Hertz, Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program for Performance Excellence.

This organization is already a good organization with high levels of customer satisfaction, a very engaged workforce, and strong financial performance.  But being good isn’t sufficient for them. They want to be a great organization and have a way to prove it.  That’s what excites them about using the Baldrige Excellence Framework and ultimately submitting an application.

In the meantime, they’re also excited about making some of their processes more systematic, creating clearer focus around a shorter list of strategic objectives and aligning everyone in the organization with those, and identifying ways to measure “How do you know?”

In a recent off-site meeting with the senior leaders and all of the organization’s middle managers (along with some invited guests including customers and partners), the CEO and other senior leaders talked about the current culture and the culture of the future that the Baldrige journey will help form.  A key focus of this meeting was the value of feedback – at both an organizational and a personal level.

Several comments in the sessions resonated with us. “When people stop giving you feedback, it’s because they’ve stopped caring about you.”  “Perfection is not the goal. Progress is.”  What also struck us was a comment from one of the guests for whom this was his first exposure to Baldrige.  He said, “Baldrige is a culture of self-reflection, getting past the psychological barriers of receiving and appreciating the feedback.”

There are so many Baldrige-based programs through the Alliance. https://www.baldrigealliance.org/  What’s keeping you and your organization from taking advantage of the feedback they offer?  Are you comfortable with “good enough,” or do you think you’re already excellent?  I’ll repeat that eye-opening question, “How do you know?”

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