Written by David Boulay Ph.D, IMEC President
What standards do you use to ensure your organization is functioning effectively?
We are reliant on standards in every way. We assume that we are adding a full gallon of gasoline as we fill up at the pump. We assume that we get the right amount of our favorite meats and cheeses when we ask for a pound at the deli counter. And, we plan to start meetings on time because we asked the team to arrive at the same time. Much of our lives rely on measurement and standards. Yet, we often take those standards for granted.
What about leading your organization? What standards do you use to ensure your organization is functioning effectively? Or, are you taking it for granted that you even have a standard?
Standards create strong and consistent practices; practices that lead to repeatable results and the creation of successful organizations. These practices fall into a handful of key areas such as leadership/strategy, customer, operations, workforce, and knowledge management. To understand our standards for these areas, we need to ask only two basic questions; "what are the key results” and "how do we achieve those results”? These two questions can be asked in several ways to explore the many facets of each key area.
The answers tell a story of your current organization standards. A medical professional uses a MRI to take a 3D view of the body. Ask yourself the right set of questions and the answers give you a 3D view of how your organization operates.
To build your standard of excellence you should use a set of questions common for any organization. This common set of questions already exists. The Baldrige Criteria is an integrated framework that guides understanding into any organization regardless of size or sector. There is nothing more comprehensive to help you better understand your organization.
Documenting responses to this standard builds a basis of communication for employees, customers, and stakeholders. You deepen their understanding of your organization. You create a baseline to continually improve in a fact-based and coordinated approach. And, you can benchmark with others to integrate best practices. This is how you build a standard of enterprise excellence.
Today’s economy is full of challenges and uncertainties. It takes courage to deeply explore, understand, and create enterprise excellence. Can you afford to take your standards for granted any longer?
I’d like to see your standard of excellence and understand where it is taking your organization.
As an interesting side note, like with weights and measures to ensure we receive the right amount of product, and like the atomic clock that keeps us on the same standard of time, the Baldrige Framework is housed at the U.S. Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The NIST mission is to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology. It certainly is at the right place to guide the standards of enterprise excellence for our nation.
David Boulay is the President of IMEC, the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center for Illinois and resource for the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award.