As it came time to write our monthly Baldrige In Brief, my heart was heavy and my mind was full of the images from Texas and Louisiana in the midst of Hurricane Harvey. So much devastation and complete disruption of normal life is almost impossible to fathom. And it’s difficult to be in a situation where the only aid we can give is through donations rather than personally helping with the rescue and recovery efforts.
One story kept coming to mind. It was captured in an article in the August 2009 issue of ASQ’s Quality Progress, “Watershed Moment.” It described the amazing story of Cargill Corn Milling’s (CCM’s) operations that were ravaged along with 700 other businesses in June 2008 when the Cedar River crested at 31.2 feet – 20 feet above flood stage – and inundated the town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
CCM suffered an estimated $100 million in damages to its facilities. However, only four months after the flood, CCM hosted a Baldrige site visit and later received the Baldrige National Quality Award that same year. We can only hope that many of the organizations impacted by Harvey have the same rigorous quality focus and robust processes built into their emergency preparedness and recovery systems.
Many people new to the Baldrige Excellence Framework are surprised to see Criteria requirements around emergency preparedness, security and cybersecurity, and business continuity. However, these are critical components of a framework that includes core values and concepts of visionary leadership, customer-focused excellence, valuing people, and focus on success. While no amount of preparation can prevent natural and man-made disasters, excellent organizations like CCM have anticipated them, identified appropriate responses, conducted training and drills to test their systems, and leveraging their organizational agility to respond.
And as we offer aid to the victims of Harvey, let’s also take a moment to reflect on the readiness of our own organizations to face such daunting challenges.