Performance Excellence Process
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Global Insights Archive
Nothing Happens Without Your Champions
by Craig A. Anderson
April 2006

"What is the commitment we need to make?"

Good question. Any organization considering Baldrige must ask what internal
resources will be required to achieve results. Our response? Let us see who your
Champions are and we will let you know.

Your Champion Team in Action
Simply put, your Champion Team is your internal Baldrige leadership team. This
Team must include the 7 Category Leads (persons responsible for achieving
Baldrige Excellence in each of the 7 Baldrige Performance Categories) and
preferably 1-2 members of the senior leadership team. The purpose of the
Champion Team is to (1) coordinate and support the work that will occur within
each Performance Category and (2) provide intense, ongoing connection between
the Baldrige initiative and the existing leadership and management structures and
systems.

Champion Teams and Category Teams
Your Champion Team guides the work of your Category Teams. Category Teams
are the operational arms of your Champion Team. The role of each Category
Team is straightforward: develop a master understanding of the relevant Baldrige
Criteria, identify gaps between the Criteria and the current performance, and
develop and implement appropriate strategies. The work of the Category Teams
is vitally important to get to the level of detailed needed for implementation. How
much detail is needed? A lot! Click here to see an excellent implementation plan
developed by Category Teams working on a Baldrige implementation at the
Indonesian equivalent of the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). This
organization is now in early implementation and is aiming to become a model for
governance and accountability within Indonesia.

Your Champion Team Bridges Theory and Results
Baldrige Excellence is based on the theory (proven many times over) that when
you integrate all the key drivers of organizational performance management in one
holistic framework, you can manage your organization as a unified system, not as
a collection of separate activities, functions, and sub-units. In practice, this means
that you will reduce waste and improve results because all parts of your
organization will work together more effectively. The results of this more effective
approach will show up in your balanced scorecard (Category 7), that tracks
progress in all key areas including customer results, product and service results,
financial results, human resource results, etc. Your Champion Team, operating as
the hub for all Baldrige activities across your organization, is ideally positioned to
ensure that this integration will be reflected at every step of your implementation.

Elements of a Great Champion Team
So what makes a great Champion Team? First, members must have a deep
working understanding of the Baldrige system.
Many organizations that are
serious about improvement encourage key employees to participate in one of the
many excellent state level Baldrige-based Award Programs. But even if this option
is not available, the open source nature of the Baldrige system means that there is
a wealth of information and best practices available for self-study and
self-assessment against the Criteria.

Second, beyond the technical knowledge,
Champion Team members must
possess a blend of strong interpersonal skills
including the ability to listen
and understand, the humility to accept and overcome legitimate resistance, the
ability to communicate openly and effectively, and the capacity to maintain a sense
of humor and optimism in the face of the inevitable problems that will crop up.

Finally,
your Champion Team itself must operate as a high performing
organization, with a clear vision and mission
that aligns the efforts of its
members and achieves measurable results for customers and stakeholders. The
entire organization is the customer of your Champion Team. Use the same
principles of Customer Satisfaction that are included in the Baldrige Criteria to
evaluate the performance of your Champion Team: analyze the customers, define
the requirements, measure performance and satisfaction, and make your
customers part of your system of success. This is an excellent philosophy for any
Team to maintain, in any circumstance.