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Global Insights Archive
Survive and Thrive in 2009:
Baldrige Excellence Shows the Way


We are where we are. There is no point in trying to figure out which combination of
forces—globalization, disruptive technologies, resource depletion, market failures,
political failures—got us here. Our goal is to survive, and thrive. This requires
intelligent, resolute action.

Baldrige can help. This is a crisis, and an opportunity. An opportunity to shed the
baggage of past failures and bureaucratic inertia and rethink, and revise, how and
why you do what you do. And in the process, get leaner, faster, smarter, and more
resilient than the competition. A smart focus on Baldrige can make this period of
turmoil work to your advantage.

Here are three Baldrige-based survival strategies that will not only position your
organization to survive the current crisis, but will lay the foundation for sustainable
excellence in the years ahead.

Survival Strategy 1: Smoke out non-value-added activities

It is likely that you have persistent, hidden waste buried across your organization.
This waste often takes the form of work activities that are ill-designed, poorly
executed, and lack relevance to internal and external customers. This waste may
be a burden during good times, but is now a potential organization killer.
Fortunately, the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence give you a map to
find and eliminate these activities. Put an internal team together to assess each
activity against the specific, actionable criteria in Category 6, Process
Management. Test each activity against the Criteria and it will soon become clear
which processes are not creating meaningful value. The Criteria will ensure that
your analysis is based on data and knowledge, and not unsupportable opinions.

Survival Strategy 2: Measure what matters and improve
efficiency

Success factors change. Organizational strengths may become fatal weaknesses.
Performance indicators and balanced scorecards become stale. It is important
during this time of transition to revisit your entire performance analysis and
measurement framework. We suggest that you bring together your key decision
makers for a roll-up-the-sleeves workshop and work through each result areas in
the Baldrige Results Category. Our view is that any gap in this area is a potential
game-changer—you cannot afford to have blind spots in your performance
measurement system. Work with Category 7, Results, in a truly open, inquisitive
process, and you will be much closer to where you need to be as a leadership
team.

Survival Strategy 3: Build employee engagement

The third key survival strategy is evident: build true engagement among your
employees. This is a critical theme that we have often addressed in these
newsletters. Category 5, Workforce Focus, essentially codifies the leading edge of
validated management practice in the area of workforce management, based on
the open source experience and feedback of a cast of thousands. As we said
earlier, you are where you are, and there is no point in casting blame for the
workforce problems that you are faced with. You just need to get better, fast. Get
teams of your best people working together NOW to assess and analyze every
aspect of your employee management practices and systems against the
Category 5 Criteria. The results will speak for themselves and point the way
toward a new start.