1. Automobiles, Blind Spots, and Organizational Strategy

    December 8, 2017 by ahmed

    rear-view-mirror

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    Fall 2017
    How does an organization identify its potential blind spots? This is one of the most common questions I hear from people conducting strategic planning processes.

    To begin answering the question, I have a simple analogy that can be used as a springboard to organizational strategy. That is, today’s cars are equipped with three rearview mirrors and often a backup camera. The mirrors and camera let you visualize what is behind you, a place you have already been. They identify “competitors” from within your clear line of sight, but they do not tell you much about them. They are your “in-industry” competitors. Some cars have an embedded blind spot mirror in the outside mirrors. The blind spot mirrors allow a view of those close to you, potentially ready to overtake you. This is an important piece of trend data that puts you on the alert and identifies competitors from within your industry who might be ready to speed ahead and overtake your leadership position. However, what you really want to know is what lies ahead!You can look out your front windshield and see the road immediately ahead or use GPS to see the road a few miles or even hours ahead (the short-term horizon). This is all helpful information, but you really want to be able to look a year or two ahead and know what road you should be on and what the traffic (competition) will look like. Will you be on the same old roads or a new road (new products and services)? As a driver today, you want to know if you will be driving a car or using another mode of transportation entirely (deriving from new industry competitors or new travel modes within your industry). Will your competition be driverless cars or a hyperloop? Can you predict those new competitors today and plan accordingly? Can you even identify those non-industry competitors? These are the real blind spots you want to know as part of strategic planning, not the extrapolated data from a “rearview mirror.”At each stage of this blind spot analogy, you were broadening your view, eventually redefining your industry from personally driven automobiles to people moving. This could lead your organization to a major shift in “product line” and services, if you want to sustain the organization and its competitive position.

    The 2017-2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework describes blind spots as arising from incorrect, incomplete, obsolete, or biased assumptions or conclusions that cause gaps, vulnerabilities, risks, or weaknesses in your understanding of the competitive environment and strategic challenges your organization faces. Blind spots may arise from new or replacement offerings or business models coming from inside or outside your industry (as you currently define it). To conclude the analogy, competition could come from driverless cars or driverless car services that take you from chosen point to point (a new business model) or from outside your industry (significant changes in mass transport or hyperloops, for example).

    Where do we find the wisdom to recognize that our industry is people moving, not automobile manufacturing? How do we find what Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, called the “unknown unknowns”? Kodak invented the digital camera but believed it was in the film industry/printing business, not the business to create memories that could best be shared online, digitally. It even realized that a “Kodak moment” was worth sharing but did not see far enough ahead to predict the business model for future sharing.

    In the remainder of this column, I will explore common traps that lead to blind spots, then explore some don’t do’s, and finally, how to look for blind spots.

    Blind Spot Traps
    I have identified seven common traps that lead to blind spots. Many of the traps arise from the work of Professor Bettina Büchel at IMD.

    1. Seeing what we expect to see: This is the theory of incongruence. We don’t see what is incongruent with our current beliefs and frame of reference. I remember seeing a video in which we were asked to count the number of times a basketball was passed; none of us noticed that a gorilla was walking among the players because we were so focused on basketball. We pay selective attention to our area of focus.
    2. Misjudging industry boundaries: We narrowly define our industry based on our current products or services and how they are used today.
    3. Failing to identify emerging competition: We don’t see emerging competition because they do not do things exactly as we do. They are tackling a different problem from our “blinders-on” perspective.
    4. Falling out of touch with customers: We think we know what our customers need and want. We have been serving them for many years and believe in their loyalty. We do not seek their input on changing needs or unmet desires.
    5. Overemphasizing competitors’ visible competence: We focus on our competitors’ current offerings and assume they will continue unchanged. We do not think about the research and development they may be doing on a disruptive product, service, or business model.
    6. Allowing organizational taboos or prohibitions to limit our thoughts: Our practices or policies can limit our thinking. We fail to question practices and policies that may be outdated or incongruent with current technology or regulation.
    7. Relying on history: This is the way we have always done things. We let our historical patterns guide our future.

    In essence, we fall into rigidity traps, rather than questioning the status quo.

    Blind Spot “Don’t Do’s”
    Before discussing what you should do to identify blind spots, let’s look at some “don’t do’s” that organizations engage in.

    1. Don’t be a slave to strategy: In a world where technology, business models, economics, and global political environments are in a constant state of evolution, organizations need to be agile. Slavishly adhering to a strategy created several years ago can take an organization down a path toward obsolescence. An organization can devote years to an outdated strategy, achieve it, and fail as an organization. And if the organization does not fail, achieving an outdated strategy could lead to the conclusion that developing strategy is useless. Today, strategic plans need to be regularly reviewed and modified as conditions and opportunities warrant. The approach should be toward strategic thinking, not strategic planning as a periodic event.
    2. Don’t focus on fear: While a healthy respect for all sources of competition is important, fear should be turned into opportunity. Fear can stifle breakthrough thinking. Confront organizational challenges and seek to capitalize on them through disruptive ideas and new solutions, not extensions of old ideas. Explore new capabilities needed to pursue opportunities. As suggested by Clark in an HBR blog, war-game your potential failures. Perform a pre-mortem. Assume the idea will fail and look for options to avoid the failure.
    3. Don’t trust: Don’t rely on sources that we tend to give undue weight. Don’t trust the wisdom of the crowd. Group-think can lead to consensing on a safe path, rather than expressing bold ideas. Brainstorm with all opinions valued. Don’t trust instincts, seek data and careful analysis of implications. Perceptions can be clouded by personal biases. Don’t trust minimizers. It is easy to deny problems and assume things will get better. It is also easy to assume things are better than they appear. Don’t trust individual experts. Experts can get it wrong and different experts have different opinions and ideas. Seek the thoughts of multiple experts.

    Blind Spot Identification
    Finally, let’s explore the processes you should use to seek and identify potential blind spots.

    1. Explore upcoming technologies: Are any emerging technologies capable of being exploited for your next generation products or services? Are there emerging technologies that could create new industries that challenge yours? Are there new technologies that could generate add-ons to your existing offerings? If yes, would it be an intelligent risk for you to invest early and capitalize on your brand recognition to be a first entrant.
    2. Assess global trends: Investigate global changes in demographics, political environments, regulation, production and purchasing capabilities, and markets. Are there any major shifts likely that could impact your marketplace positively or negatively?
    3. Get out of your comfort zone: Break tradition. Shake up the norm. Try to identify and test your implicit assumptions. Take your leadership team to totally different surroundings. Get you news from a different source that has a different focus than your normal channel. Talk to people that you wouldn’t normally interact with. For example, if you are a physicist, talk to an economist or social scientist or industrial engineer. Ask probing questions. Try to talk to someone new on a regular basis.
    4. Seek employee input broadly: Discuss potential game-changing ideas with employees at all levels of the organization. Solicit and listen to their reactions. Solicit other ideas from them. Bring people together from different parts of the organization and different job functions to brainstorm together and to share what they are hearing or reading outside the confines of their workplace.
    5. Talk to your customers: Ask your customers about their unmet needs and desires. Talk to your customers’ customers to gain additional insight. Observe your customers in action to understand their behaviors and frustrations. Look for creative solutions.
    6. Broaden your field of view: Don’t assume companies or organizations will remain in current industry boundaries. Look at adjacent industries and benchmark what they are doing. Ask yourself what business are you really in (e.g. automobile manufacturing or people moving)? What is the ultimate goal or impact of your product or service for the user? Given global and technology trends is there a new business model you should pursue?

    Final Thoughts
    To find blind spots you need to look broadly and not be constrained by current biases and boundaries. You need to trust instincts less because they harbor your current biases. You need to seek new and different sources of information and synthesize what you learn. Verify your conclusions. Plan a specific course of action. Continue monitoring trends and your progress. Stay agile. Look not just straight ahead, but around corners.


  2. Baldrige Award Winners 2017

    November 17, 2017 by ahmed

    Baldrige_Winners_2017

    Originally posted on Commerce.gov

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross named two small businesses, one city government, and two health care organizations as the 2017 recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Baldrige Award is a Presidential-level honor, recognizing exemplary practices among American organizations and businesses including an unceasing drive for radical innovation, thoughtful leadership, and administrative improvement. This year’s awardees are proven success stories, providing a rubric for other businesses across the country to follow.

    “This program is about much more than recognizing successful organizations or winning a single award,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The organizations which are given the Baldrige Award embody the competitive spirit which drives the American economy forward.”

    The 2017 honorees are located in five different states, including the first Baldrige Award winner from Hawaii, a repeat winner from Alaska, and the first utility company to win the award.

    The 2017 Baldrige Award recipients-listed with their category-are:

    • Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, Bristol, TN, small business sector
    • Stellar Solutions, Palo Alto, CA, small business sector
    • City of Fort Collins, Fort Collins, CO, nonprofit sector
    • Castle Medical Center, Kailua, HI, health care sector
    • Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, AK, health care sector

    “When companies implement the ground-tested Baldrige approach, they create organizations that employees and customers love, that continually improve, and that produce innovative and outstanding results,” continued Secretary Ross.

    The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages the Baldrige Award in cooperation with the private sector. An independent board of examiners recommended this year’s Baldrige Award recipients from a field of 24 applicants after evaluating them in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Excellence Framework: leadership; strategy; customers; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce; operations; and results. An organization may compete for the award in one of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit (including government agencies).

    “This year’s honorees demonstrate clearly that organizations of all kinds can achieve sustainable high performance,” said Robert Fangmeyer, director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. “The missions for these organizations are dramatically different, but they share a laser focus on doing the right things for their customers, employees and communities using the Baldrige framework. The payoff is great operational and business results.”

    To date, nearly 1,700 U.S. organizations have applied for the Baldrige Award, and there are more than 30 independent Baldrige-based state and regional award programs covering nearly all 50 states. Internationally, there are nearly 80 programs based in whole, or in part, on the Baldrige Program. In addition, many organizations use the Baldrige framework as a leadership and management guide to drive improvement and innovation strategies without applying for any of these awards.

    Over the years, millions of copies of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, the core of the Baldrige framework, have been distributed or downloaded. This widespread acceptance and use both nationally and globally has dramatically impacted all types of organizations.

    For example, below are achievements by the 2017 Baldrige Award winners.

    • The City of Fort Collins’ has a “Aaa” credit rating and ranks in the top 10 percent of cities nationally as a place to live and work, and for quality of culture and recreation, job opportunities, air quality and attractiveness. It ranks in the top 1 percent for drinking water quality and emergency preparedness.
    • Bristol Tennessee Essential Services is an electricity and fiber services utility company that serves 33,000 customers with only 68 employees. It offers the fastest internet available in the United States at 10 Gigabits per second, has implemented efficiencies that saved its customers approximately $70 million over the last 40 years, and has customer satisfaction levels approaching 100 percent on many products and performance measures.
    • Stellar Solutions is a woman-owned small business specializing in technical expertise and management of aerospace programs with a vision of helping every employee achieve their dream job. Stellar’s revenue has grown from a rate of 1.18 percent in 2013 to 6.81 percent in 2016, and from 2013 to 2016, 100 percent of customers say they would recommend the company to others. In addition to its core services, the company operates a humanitarian R&D program called QuakeFinder focused on the goal of developing technology and methods to forecast earthquakes worldwide.
    • Southcentral Foundation won its first Baldrige Award in 2011. It is a nonprofit, health care organization owned, managed, and driven by Alaskan Native “customers-owners” who live within a 107,000-square-mile area, including 55 villages reachable only by plane. Its unique health care delivery system combining mind, body and cultural measures of wellness produces 90th-percentile rankings for screenings such as diabetes, cardiovascular health and cervical cancer, as well as numerous other health care outcomes and quality measures.
    • Castle Medical Center is a 160-bed acute care facility and community hospital system on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu. Between 2014 and 2016, it improved performance by 12 percent on composite measures of safety, evidence-based care and mortality related to its clinical care processes. The health care organization ranks in the top 10 percent for disease prevention and treatment programs.

    The Baldrige judges also may recognize applicants’ best practices in one or more of the Baldrige Criteria categories by organizations that are candidates for the award but are not selected as winners.

    This year, the judges have chosen four organizations for this honor (listed with the categories for which they are acknowledged):

    • Donor Alliance, Denver, CO, Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management (category 4) and Operations (category 6)
    • Howard Community College, Columbia, MD, Customers (category 3) and Operations (category 6)
    • Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio, TX, Leadership (category 1) and Strategy (category 2)
    • Tri County Tech, Bartlesville, OK, Leadership (category 1) and Workforce (category 5)

    The 2017 Baldrige Awards will be presented at an April 2018 ceremony during the Baldrige Program’s 30th annual Quest for Excellence® conference, which will be held in Baltimore, MD.

    The Baldrige Program raises awareness about the importance of performance excellence in driving the U.S. and global economies; provides organizational assessments, training, tools and criteria; educates leaders in businesses, schools, health care organizations and government and nonprofit organizations; shares the best practices of national role models; and recognizes those role models with the Baldrige Award. The Baldrige Program is a public-private partnership managed by NIST and funded in part through user fees, with some support from the Baldrige Foundation.

    The Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 and is not given for specific products or services. Since the first group was recognized in 1988, 118 awards have been presented to 110 organizations (including eight repeat winners).


  3. Singapore Quality Award Winners 2017

    November 6, 2017 by ahmed

    SQA2017

    Three organisations – two local food companies and a provider of utility services – win this year’s Business Excellence Awards for the first time. The other three winners are two government agencies and a local eco-friendly industrial packaging solutions provider.

    Singapore Quality Award (SQA)
    Defence Science and Technology Agency – introduction video clip
    Ministry of Manpower – introduction video clip
    Neo Group Limited (Catering) – introduction video clip
    Select Group Pte Ltd – introduction video clip
    SP Services Ltd – introduction video clip

    Innovation Excellence Award (IEA)
    Greenpac (S) Pte Ltd – introduction video clip

    First-time winners, Neo Group (Catering), Select Group and SP Services join the ranks of DSTA, MOM and Greenpac who are past recipients of various BE Awards. To date, there are 112 BE Award winners, who have attained superior performance and demonstrated commitment in harnessing innovation, developing people and delivering excellent service, since the inception of the BE initiative in 1994. The BE Awards are conferred by the Singapore Quality Award (SQA) Governing Council and administered by SPRING Singapore.

    A critical enabler to build capabilities and capture new market opportunities
    The BE framework was streamlined last year to keep pace with evolving management and technological trends. Organisations have to pursue the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) as a foundation before deepening niche capabilities in Innovation, People and Service. The refreshed framework serves to maintain its relevance and value as a holistic tool for organisations of different growth stages to establish strong business fundamentals and capitalise on new opportunities.

    The SQC certification is an endorsement of a company’s robust management capabilities and commitment to delivering value to its stakeholders. The unified branding under SQC serves as a trust mark of quality and excellence for Singapore-based organisations, boosting their competitiveness in domestic and global markets. To date, more than 1,800 organisations are on the BE journey.

    “In the face of a fast-changing global economic landscape, business excellence has become more crucial for organisations now than before. To help them navigate through these changes, the independent validation process that organisations go through using the BE framework provides them with an external perspective – enabling them to assess where they stand in relation to their local and overseas counterparts, and identify the gaps that need to be filled in order to achieve sustainable growth,” said Professor Cham Tao Soon, Chairman, SQA Governing Council.

    “The assurance of quality that BE provides of a business’ products and services, as well as soundness of its management practices are important for Singapore companies looking to seize growth opportunities locally and overseas. Organisations should leverage the BE initiative to fine-tune their management systems and develop capabilities to be better positioned to scale, grow and compete,” said Mr Poon Hong Yuen, Chief Executive, SPRING Singapore.


  4. EFQM Excellence Award winners 2017 and 14 new success stories

    November 4, 2017 by ahmed

    EFQM_logo

    EFQM Award winners 2017

    In the pursuit for excellence 2017 was a very challenging year for many organisations around the world. Business excellence awards are the most prestigious awards any organisation can achieve, it recognises organisations which have demonstrated excellence in all areas of operation. Below are the EFQM business excellence award winners of 2017.

    • EFQM Excellence Award Winner
      • Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
      • Glasgow Housing Association
      • Robert Bosch GMBH
    • EFQM Global Excellence Prize Winner in Harnessing Creativity & Innovation
      • Bosch Car Multimedia Portugal
    • EFQM Global Excellence Prize Winner in Adding Value for Customers, Developing Organisational Capabilities & Leading with Vision, Inspiration & Integrity
      • Bosch Rodes Plant
    • EFQM Global Excellence Prize Winner in Leading With Vision, Inspiration & Integrity & Succeeding Through the Talent Of People
      • Geriatric Health Centres of the City of Graz (GGZ)
    • EFQM Global Excellence Prize Winner in Adding Value for Customers
      • Hospital Universitario Infanta Elena (HUIE)
      • Sanitas Hospitals
      • Tarsus Belediyes
    • EFQM Global Excellence Award Highly Commended
      • Mando Corporation Poland
      • West Lothian Council

    Download the full recognition book in PDF

    14 Success story of EFQM award winners
    Discover the success stories that made those organisations recognised at various EFQM levels of Excellence.


  5. Baldrige Principles Bring Organizational Change, Learning to National Guard

    August 31, 2017 by ahmed

    Idaho_Army_National_Guard

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Dawn Marie Bailey

    What are the benefits and challenges of starting a Baldrige-based program from scratch in your organization?Lt. Col. Rory Thompson started such a program at the Idaho Army National Guard. In this blog, he shares his experiences on how he has been working from within to encourage a defense organization to implement Baldrige’s learning principles to achieve organizational performance excellence.

    “If defense organizations in the United States are to navigate the complexity of today’s unpredictable security environment and attain competence in organizational adaptability, innovation, integration, and process improvement, what new ways of thinking and acting are available to achieve these objectives?” asked Thompson, PMP, G3, Idaho Army National Guard Strategic Planning Manager, in his paper (submitted at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom) “How Can Defense Organizations Sustain a Competitive Advantage in the Security Marketplace? An Analysis of the Idaho Army National Guard’s Implementation of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.”

    He found these news ways of thinking and acting through applying principles of the Baldrige Framework and the Army Communities of Excellence (ACOE) Program, which is based on Baldrige.

    According to Thompson, he volunteered to attend training and develop the organization’s Baldrige program because in his previous positions, he kept experiencing the same general problems. “We lacked defined systematic processes to manage operational work effectively to meet our customers’ or stakeholders’ requirements, or we had a defined process but no means to evaluate it to determine ways to improve,” he said.

    “In these instances,” Thompson added, “the organization was inadvertently accepting higher amounts of unnecessary risk or contributing to rework and waste. I found myself questioning processes and wondering how or why we seemed to jump from crisis to crisis. Based on the Baldrige-based training from the Army National Guard ACOE program, I began to frame problems from a systems perspective. In other words, I relied less on individual process management and began working on organizational process management. The point is that organizational behavior and reinforcing systems play a critical part, and until we can address system issues, the processes people manage will continue to return the same result.”

    The Idaho Army National Guard began its journey to become a learning organization in 2014 with its first application to the Army ACOE program. It used the Baldrige Framework as an organizational management and maturity model to achieve the following:

    • Provide high-quality services to customers, partners, and stakeholders
    • Guide and facilitate organizational learning as a method to increase efficiency and organizational effectiveness
    • Empower the workforce to contribute to quality
    • Manage complexity and risk

    In his paper, Rory writes that the Idaho Army National Guard’s initial priority was “to influence organizational culture and human behavior through an organizational design modification that adjusted the common military functional management model to a matrix management model. The objective for the design modification was to break down barriers of communication and enable departmental cross-talk and sharing of information.”

    The next priority was to set the conditions for a learning organization. According to his paper, “The primary objective of the organizational learning model was to provide a reference point for the workforce to view learning from feedback as it occurs at tactical, operational and strategic levels of work. The secondary objective was to reinforce how the Idaho Army National Guard supports a climate for learning and information sharing. The tertiary objective was to ensure that paths of learning were available at the operational, tactical, and strategic levels of operation.”

    “As we became more familiar with the concepts of the Baldrige Framework and overcame some initial hurdles, we have had great successes, and we will continue, as is the beauty of the Baldrige Criteria [with the Baldrige Framework],” said Thompson.

    One of his favorite recent examples of successes in using Baldrige and other continuous improvement training programs are employees calling him or contacting him directly wanting to get involved, get trained, and start effecting positive change, he said. In addition, new methods to communicate externally and internally to the workforce, customers, partners, and stakeholders have emerged; these include an external website, internal podcasts, external and internal social media platforms, a new brand and logo, and new organizational strategy layered with Baldrige concepts. There’s even been more “workforce engagement and willingness to explore better ways of doing things,” Thompson added.

    “The overall experience is and has been critical to my organizational management/leadership skills,” said Thompson. “This [Baldrige] framework has opened doors I had no idea existed. The moment I became involved in Baldrige, my eyes and mind opened to at first what was confusing and different, but as I learned the framework, I began to view organizational management from a much different perspective. As I learned more about the Baldrige framework, I began to see gaps in my own ability to manage organizations.”

    Inspired by his learning, Thompson became an examiner with Performance Excellence Northwest, a Baldrige-based program and member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence that covers the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. He also earned a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and went to PROSCI Change Management training, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training, and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training.

    Thompson offers advice for others who may be trying to start an internal Baldrige program, but he warns that there is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach because there are simply too many external and internal organizational variables.

    “There is no set timetable, and the organization will cue you in when it is ready to press harder. You should manage expectations early; however, you are not out to win an award. The award is a byproduct of a relatively mature system,” he said.

    Some general advice follows:

    • Start the program small, and be careful not to “upset” the traditional ways of doing things.
    • Try to select those for your implementation team who have some leverage and longevity in the organization, and who show a natural inclination towards continuous improvement and quality.
    • Get small wins with your team to help build momentum.
    • Find a balance between controlling implementation and stifling innovation.
    • Eventually work Baldrige concepts into the strategy without upending the overall structure.
    • Speak the language your organization understands. Do integrate Baldrige concepts but avoid using specific Baldrige terminology.