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From Single Entity to Integrated System:
Leverage Your Workforce with Baldrige Excellence
Craig A. Anderson
April 2008

We are no longer a hospital; we are now a health care system! We were gratified
to hear this insight during a recent client meeting, but it is even more gratifying to
envision the benefits that lie ahead for all of us if a critical mass of organizations in
all industries would embrace this understanding. For just as a financial "multiplier
effect" recycles the benefits of an additional dollar of spending and investment
many times, so too a commitment to Baldrige Excellence recycles benefits across
organizations and industries.

The key to gaining leverage? "Get granular" by understanding and optimizing your
workforce at a level of detail that you normally would not consider. This is not a
bean-counting exercise. Rather, getting granular means truly analyzing the
dynamics that drive your people and your work processes. It is (dangerously) easy
to lay out a grand strategy that ignores the fundamental mechanics of how things
actually work. Baldrige, by bringing together a fact-based approach to
management within a holistic system, serves as the ideal platform to multiply your
return on management investment.  

Here are three keys to leveraging the skills and capabilities within your
organization through Baldrige Excellence:

Map Your Workforce
Improvement happens one person, one process at a time. Before you can
leverage your resources, you must understand these resources. Go beyond
traditional thinking about "competencies" to focus on the quality of the interactions
of each of your employees with their work processes, customers, colleagues, and
other elements of the system. Just as you develop a process map that describes
your workflow, create an employee map that details how each employee interacts
with your system. You will not get this right the first time, but start the process and
the supporting dialogue. Disconnect this effort from any formal appraisal process;
your goal here is strictly to find opportunities to leverage underutilized resources.
As you map out your employee interactions with your work processes, focus on
understanding the impact on all key stakeholders: customers, suppliers, partners,
etc.

Identify Leverage Points
Use your granular understanding of your people and processes to identify leverage
points; that is, areas where improvements can ripple through multiple parts of your
system. Find employees who have a big upside in terms of their ability to
contribute to the system. Use Category 5, Workforce Focus, in the Baldrige
Criteria as a guide here to help you unlock your thinking about your people and
their work. Innovation is a key goal here: develop systems that encourage and
support innovation at all levels, but make sure that you also have the systems to
sustain the gains. Strive to see your workforce in a new way, as a unified system
that is capable of so much more performance than it is currently achieving.

Track Progress
Leveraging your workforce is important; make sure this is reflected in your
management system. Set clear expectations based on your analysis of key
leverage points in your workforce, and track progress to adjust and recalibrate as
you move forward. A common view is that globalization and relentless cost
pressures will lead inevitably to a common standard of mediocrity in goods and
services; if so, what an opportunity! Leverage the skills and capabilities of your
workforce in a Baldrige-guided system and you will find opportunities you never
imagined for delighting customers and enhancing performance. But again, like all
worthwhile efforts, it takes innovation and industry to succeed; focus on the journey,
not just the destination, and you will achieve the results you are looking for.