Performance Excellence Process
Baldrige Workshops
Global Insights Archive
Unlocking the Value of Your Baldrige Feedback Report:
Five Keys to Understanding and Improving Results
Craig A. Anderson
September 2008

As state and national performance excellence award cycles wind down, teams of
examiners are wrapping up their feedback reports. These reports, reflecting
hundreds of hours of independent, expert analysis, can provide a solid foundation
for breakthrough improvement. To assist in this process, we have identified five
keys to maximizing the value of your feedback report.

1. Understand the context of the report
Understand the context of the feedback report. The report was put together by a
virtual team that has never met in person and will be choppy and at times difficult to
read. But go beyond these distractions and focus on the content. Each word in the
final feedback report is there for a reason, and you will be a better organization by
adopting an aggressive and positive response to each comment, especially the
opportunities for improvement (OFIs).

2. Look for hidden opportunities
Pay special attention to any comments that refer to information that was missing
from the application. In many cases, these comments may be thin in content (it is
much easier for examiners to write substantive comments on what is actually IN the
application!), but the most promising OFIs often "hide" squarely in these gaps.

3. Value to you depends on the value you invest
The value of the feedback report is truly a reflection of the value you put into the
application process. Examiners would love to give you frank and useful feedback
regarding your approach in all key areas, but this is difficult if you respond to "how"
questions with "off the shelf" answers. As you review the comments, ask yourself if
your responses went deep enough into the details to enable meaningful feedback.
Rather than tell us that you are using "XYZ" software, tell us how this software
actually impacts your key work processes and adds value to your customers and
stakeholders.

4. Avoid drowning in the learning whirlpool
It is safe to say that an experienced examiner could write up a learning OFI for
each page of an application. The assessment process forces a specific focus on
evidence of learning; the reality is that organizational and personal learning are
immature processes in most organizations today. Make sure you do not drown in
the whirlpool of learning OFIs that will come your way in the feedback report.
Applicants that grasp the importance of learning as a core process across all
parts of the organization will see the learning OFIs as a lifesaver; organizations
that do not "get" learning will drown in the whirlpool.

5. Keep results comments in perspective
Generally speaking, results are harder to assess and score than process items,
and results comments are harder to write. Results are graded on a tougher scale;
the 30-45% scoring band requires that "results are reported for many areas of
importance to the accomplishment of your organization's mission," while the same
scoring band for process items only requires that your approach be "in the early
stages of alignment with your basic organizational needs." Further, the
Levels-Trends-Comparisons-Integration (LeTCI) scoring dimensions put a specific
focus on the difficult challenges of obtaining relevant comparative results and
documenting the integration of your results across your enterprise. The majority of
applicants will not be at a level of maturity to respond effectively in these areas.
The point? Stay the course and do not become discouraged by low results scores;
focus on improving your key processes and the results will be there over time.