The Baldrige Approach to Innovation

May 10, 2015 by ahmed

Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

The Baldrige Excellence Framework, as a systems perspective, has taken a holistic approach to the important topic of innovation. This perspective comprises a Core Value and Concept, Managing for Innovation, and numerous considerations within the Baldrige Criteria. Together, the Baldrige approach to innovation emphasizes both cultural/people aspects and process aspects of achieving successful innovation and provides the linkages to ensure process and people are aligned.

Baldrige defines innovation as making meaningful (breakthrough) change to improve products, processes, or organizational effectiveness and create new value for stakeholders. Managing for Innovation, as the words imply, requires a combination of people and process. Your organization should be led and managed so that identifying opportunities for innovation become part of the learning culture. Systematic processes for identifying those opportunities should reach across your entire organization.

The Baldrige Criteria start the focus on innovation by asking how senior leaders create an environment for innovation (culture) and a focus on action to achieve innovation. In Strategy Development, the Criteria ask how your strategy development process stimulates and incorporates innovation through identification of strategic opportunities and selection of those that are intelligent risks worth pursuing. Next the Criteria ask about the use of organizational performance review findings as a mechanism for identifying opportunities for innovation and how you manage organizational knowledge to stimulate innovation. How does your workforce performance management system reinforce intelligent risk taking to achieve innovation? What is your operational process for managing innovation? What are the results of your innovation process? The outcome of the Baldrige approach to innovation is obvious. Innovation takes a systems perspective that involves leaders, all employees, and processes in coordination.

So, you might ask what led to this blog post? It was triggered by a recent HBR post entitled, “Is Innovation More About People or Process?” Andrea Ovans concludes that it is both after giving some good examples from IDEO, Procter & Gamble, Intel, and others. She also cites a number of resources for people starting innovation efforts. Take a look at “Build an Innovation Engine in 90 Days” to see how to rapidly bring people and process together. (And for a very different approach to innovation, not recommended by me as the approach of choice, check out Political Activism and Innovation.)

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