1. Boiling the ocean: How a manufacturer leveraged the criteria to improve its supply chain

    February 8, 2014 by nick.halley

    Originally Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey on Blogrige: The Official Baldrige blog.

    How to Boil the Ocean

    In 2012, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) participated in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program. As part of the program, John Varley and the other Fellows were given homework: identify a significant challenge in their organizations and use the principles of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to achieve significant improvement.

    Varley, vice president for Quality and Mission Success–at the 2012 Baldrige Award recipient that designs, develops, manufactures, and supports advanced combat, missile, rocket, and sensor systems for the U.S. and foreign military–knew that MFC’s most significant area of improvement was the supply chain. Over the past year, the economy had hit the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and its contractors hard, and as spending became tighter, the smaller subcontractors in the industry–those who support the large contractors–were hit the hardest.

    According to Steven Sessions, supplier quality director and deputy, Quality Mission and Success, MFC has a multitier supply chain, with suppliers who have subcontractors and so forth, so there are several tiers of suppliers that support MFC. Sessions says when the economy began to squeeze the lower-level, smaller contractors, the tendency was not to lay off the person who created the parts but the person who was in charge of checking the quality of the parts. MFC has contractual relationships with the first line of its supply chain, but how do you assess the risk with lower-level tiers that farm out parts of their work?

    Sessions said that MFC was already working on strategies to address supply chain issues when his colleague came back from a Baldrige Executive Fellows session with the idea for a project that “was pretty startling to colleagues.” Varley’s project focused on how to improve the entire DOD supply chain.

    “[Such a project] was closer to boiling the ocean,” Sessions says. “We have 2,000+ suppliers, and now we would be taking on a project to help companies that are competitors improve their own organizations.”

    “John’s premise was that we either all improve together or all decline together because we are so integrated,” Sessions says. “It was an interesting insight. We tried to figure out how to use the Malcolm Baldrige [Criteria] model to open up doors to companies that five years ago you would never have thought would open their doors to share processes, tools, and techniques on how to improve the DOD supply chain.”

    Sessions added that years ago, the top DOD suppliers like Lockheed Martin were very distinct entities, but now they often act as partners in some programs, competitors in others, and suppliers in still others.

    Based on the Baldrige Criteria, a strategy called Senior Leadership Engagement and Benchmarking was developed by MFC, and MFC’s senior leaders set out to meet with the senior leaders of the other top DOC contractors, getting their commitment around the strategy that we all go up or down together.

    The sharing-ideas strategy really took off, with more than 18 major DOD suppliers and others standing in line to take part, Sessions says.

    “The Malcolm Baldrige Award has made the whole effort take off to the point now where we’re having to leverage seasoned people with more people in the organization in order to keep up with requests,” Sessions says. “The interesting part is that we started out thinking that we are going to be . . . helping [other DOD contractors] improve, and we’ve been able to do that. But out of it, we gained a lot of insight into areas in which we can improve our journey as well. What started out as boiling the ocean, materialized into a real partnership and relationship with some significant companies that are coming up with ideas on how to improve the supply chain that any one of us by ourselves probably would not have been able to achieve.”

    Sessions says that MFC is working on other strategies to improve the overall DOD supply chain in the long term; for example, staff members are working on how to prevent counterfeit parts from getting into its systems. In close alignment with its customer, MFC is teaming with others in the industry to solve this complex, difficult problem.

    Benchmarking Against the Best

    “The Malcolm Baldrige model is a very structured approach to improving your business,” Sessions says, but MFC didn’t turn to the Baldrige Criteria because it needed a framework for improvement. MFC had already won a host of awards, including awards from the Baldrige-based Sterling Award in Florida and Texas Quality Award.

    MFC decided that we wanted to get a good, solid, independent benchmark of where MFC was relevant to its performance, Session says. As they decided whom and how to benchmark, they brought forward the ”world-class” Baldrige Criteria. “We had several ideas of how to benchmark,” he says. “But we wanted to be benchmarked by the best of the best. Our focus was to [apply for the Baldrige Award and] get a site visit and get the outcome of where we stood and where we could improve some more.”

    Sessions says, “As we began to understand the [Baldrige Criteria], we found that it was very similar to our own vision for improvement that we had been using over the past 10 years. . . . The reason people model themselves around the Malcolm Baldrige model is to get that kind of proven, world-class performance. . . . We’ve seen dramatic achievements across the business because our senior leaders had the right premises to line up with the Malcolm Baldrige model.”

    Frank McManus, senior quality leader, MFC, says that when MFC chose to begin using the Baldrige Criteria, “Our leaders wanted us to get not so much the award but the feedback. Having the site visit, with examiners coming to various facilities [and those examiners] representing many different industries and experiences and getting that kind of view [became a] vantage point of how we’re operating and continuously improving.”

    “The examiners were the carrot,” he added; receiving their feedback was incredibly valuable.

    The Right Metrics and Why the Baldrige Criteria

    Sessions said the MFC business model was structured very similarly to the Baldrige Criteria–very focused on the customer and aligned with leadership and every aspect of the organization. A Strategic Enterprise Leadership Counsel reviews the MFC business model to ensure that it aligns with both customer and business needs.

    Key to the MFC business model is having the right metrics to drive performance that align with customers and are tied to every level of the workforce. Similarly, Session says, the Malcolm Baldrige model focuses on customers, with each operational focus tied into a metric system that is aligned with strategic planning and customer needs.

    “That’s the beauty of [such a model],” says Session. “It’s very easy for our leadership team to see where areas for improvement are needed because of the instrumentation we have from the smallest of teams to 16 sites, and it rolls up from all of those organizations to the top. . . . We are very process focused with data-driven decisions, and our customer is the primary focus area. We know if we get it right for the customer, our business will follow. The Malcolm Baldrige model follows all these same tenets–always focusing on the customer with robust processes and data-driven decisions. It was a natural fit.”

    For other organizations, Sessions says the value of the Baldrige Criteria is the structured framework and focus on the customer. “Sometimes companies get too inwardly focused and end up losing sight of [what the customer really needs]. Comparing yourself with other industries and what’s considered the best of the best brings insights.”

    Sessions said that when MFC started with the Baldrige Criteria, “We literally had to flip all of our metrics upside down.” Its performance had gotten so good that it was focusing on just the 1% of parts that were coming in bad, for example. To complete its application for theMalcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, MFC had to flip its model to show the good parts of its supply chain, and this led to interesting observations.

    “When you start to benchmark yourself, it makes you look at metrics differently,” Sessions says. “The whole organization was pretty astonished when it started to pull together metrics in one place [for its Baldrige Award application]. It makes you look back and forward in how you have been performing on your journey and where it would take you. That’s the value [of writing a Baldrige Award application]–that reflection and insight on where we go next.”


  2. The Sponsor as the face of organisational change

    November 25, 2013 by nick.halley

    A large proportion of projects are not given enough executive level attention. Due to this, a large number of projects ultimately fail, as they move further and further away from the business’ core competencies, and strategic alignment between business and project breaks down. In order to overcome this, effective organizations recognize project sponsorship as a key part in any project. It is very important to have active sponsors who support change. Sponsors establish direction for the future, communicate through vision, and forge aligned, high performance teams.

    Dr. H. James Harrington, CEO and Douglas Nelson of Harrington Associates, have written a white paper explaining further how an effective sponsor, who sits at an executive level, can help eliminate the barriers to change and ensure the rapid and effective implementation of project outcomes. Commissioned by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the white paper, outlines characteristics and skills of a strong sponsor, including; power, sense of urgency, vision, public role, private role, and leverage. It includes a small but effective tool for assessing the suitability of a person for a sponsor role.

    The following statement from Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide (PMI, 2013b) provides the foundational concept for this whitepaper.

    “A sponsor provides resources required for change and has the ultimate responsibility for the program or project, building commitment for the change particularly at the senior management level across the organization. Direct responsibility and accountability for the change needs to be clearly defined and accepted at an appropriately high level within an organization. Consequently, the sponsor for a change effort should be someone who has sufficient authority, influence, power, enthusiasm, and time to ensure that any conflicts that could impede the change are resolved in a timely and appropriate fashion.”

    Read the white paper HERE hosted by PMI.


  3. How Mindfulness impacts organisational performance

    November 16, 2013 by nick.halley

    Mindfulness has moved from a largely obscure practice to a mainstream organisational idea in some leading organisations. This purposeful, flexible, and open state of attention and awareness of the present moment has become a significant talking point. The reason? Mindfulness is linked to higher level functioning and people’s increased ability to focus their attention in a dynamic, task-focused way. Its advocates are convinced that it increases performance and it is this link to performance that will be explored.

    What makes mindfulness particularly relevant for work places interested is that it can be trained through mindfulness meditation practice. It is not a genetic trait that some have and others don’t, and instead there is increasing evidence that even brief mindfulness training helps people improve their memory and cognitive ability.

    Researchers are still working on establishing a solid empirical link between mindfulness and organisational performance, but  leaders in top organisations such as Google and Apple have begun implementing mindfulness initiatives for their employees.

    What is mindfulness about?

    Mindfulness is about paying attention with a particular intention: this intention is based on your willingness to give up pre-judgement and certainty, and to bring into your experience of the present moment:

    • A deep curiosity to discover something new,
    • An openness to notice things about the situation, including negative or unpleasant ones, and
    • The flexibility to accept change in the environment or within yourself, rather than resist it.

    How do you become mindful?

    Everyone can practise mindfulness. There are a few things that enable you to become mindful, such as:

    • Slow down.
    • Notice five things about you, or about the situation, good or bad.
    • Ask yourself: What can I learn about the situation?
    • Only then take action.

    This approach is an antidote to overly complex and dynamic environments – it helps people stay present and therefore choose more effective action.

    Mindfulness vs. positive thinking

    The crucial component in developing mindfulness consists of becoming aware of the entire range of thoughts and feelings within you, as you evaluate what is happening in the situation. Counter intuitively, mindfulness enables positive changes in performance not by focusing on the positive, or on those aspects of a situation that you like or appreciate, but by becoming ever more able to welcome into your experience all thoughts and feelings, both positive and negative.

    This is particularly hard during stressful situations. Most people don’t like feeling stressed, and instead avoid the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that are inevitably part of experiencing stress. This can take inconspicuous forms, for instance, by reacting to an unwelcome voicemail by checking email, or by eating a packet of crisps. The problem: by shutting out of our experience those thoughts or feelings that we deem ‘negative’, we shut ourselves off from noticing aspects about such an unwelcome message that are potentially useful, for example, the tone of voice with which the caller conveyed the message. Noticing whether the caller sounded frustrated or disappointed may help us respond more appropriately, and put to good use the information conveyed through the caller’s tone of voice.

    Practising mindfulness at the individual level is hence akin to developing a mental muscle; more specifically, it is about practising the capacity to become aware, and subsequently use, all information available to you, especially information you would have otherwise shied away from. This is where the power of mindfulness lies: rather than focusing on positive thinking at the expense of noticing what it is that may make you experience stress (and the associated tunnel vision or defensiveness), mindfulness enables you to choose the most effective action in the moment, based on a careful evaluation of all intelligence available to you in the situation.

    Organisational influences on mindfulness

    A question asked less often is: How is an employee’s personal mindfulness practice affected by organisational circumstances?

    This is pertinent to organisational decision-makers because – as ever-keen students of organisational performance, we know that many situational factors influence employee performance (competing demands, job fit between a person’s skills and motivation and the task at hand etc.).

    It is an important question to ponder before going ahead and bringing mindfulness into an organisation also because we understand that mindfulness is more beneficial for task performance when the work environment is complex and dynamic (as opposed to an environment where routine jobs need to be performed on a daily basis).

    A research study presented at the Academy of Management’s annual conference in Orlando in2013, carried out by Jochen Reb and colleagues at Singapore Management University, dealt with precisely this question: how do organisational factors impact employee mindfulness?

    Jochen Reb and his colleagues have carried out a research programme that examines what aspects of mindfulness drive employee performance. In an earlier study, Reb and colleagues found that an organisational leader’s mindfulness affects employee performance because the leader’s mindfulness helps foster employees’ psychological need satisfaction (in other words, their autonomy at work, their perceptions of competence, and the relationship quality with others at work).

    In the study examining the effect of organisational factors on employee mindfulness, (which is forthcoming in the journal Mindfulness), Reb et al discovered that several organisational factors strongly affect the employees’ mindfulness: constraints such as poor equipment, conflicting demands, the employee’s autonomy, and also people factors such as supervisor support. Reb and his colleagues go on to demonstrate that the employees’ mindfulness, as measured by their awareness and attention at work, strongly affect their well-being and their performance at work.

    Implications for raising performance using mindfulness

    What does this mean for people pondering to raise performance through mindfulness training in work settings? Rather than focusing exclusively on helping individual employees to practise mindfulness, we can also make organisations more mindful by (mindfully!) examining contextual factors at work that facilitate or hamper a mindful task focus amongst workers.

    The verdict

    It is early days in understanding how organisations can benefit. More work is needed to understand the organisational constraints affecting mindfulness and its link with performance. We need to widen our lens in this field and shift our focus away from zooming exclusively in on the individual and her cultivation of mindfulness, and towards helping leaders in organisations support their employees more effectively (through mindfulness-based approaches and others) and/or removing situational constraints that make it difficult to practice mindfulness as much as possible. In this way we have a better chance of successfully bringing mindfulness into our organisations.

    This article was republished from Dr. Jutta Tobias at Think: Cranfield


    Dr Jutta Tobias is a lecturer at Cranfield’s Centre for Business Performance. She has a broad interest in behaviour change to help improve people’s performance at work

    Cranfield’s Praxis Centre offers  a 2 day mindfulness open programme, The Mindful Executive: cognitive decision making for the wise  leader and a mindfulness practice is taught on their Fearless Leadership programme.

    For more information contact Mary Mills on +44(0)1234754502, email m.k.mills@cranfield.ac.uk or visit Think: Cranfield


  4. Leadership Transition

    September 30, 2013 by nick.halley

    Insights

    Transition into a new leadership role can be a turbulent path whether you are facing the new role yourself, or an executive leadership change is to occur within your organization. According to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board Company study almost half of all new executives under perform during this transitional period. This lack of productivity can be avoided by both sides of the arrangement by fulfilling and acting upon several focus points.

    The article below by Robert G. Fangmeyer, Acting Director of Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, gives ten excellent focus point for a leader to concentrate on during his/her transition into the role. In addition he gives a further 5 key points, that outline what an organization should provide in order to assist the new executive leader into their new role.


    Let me start by introducing myself to those who don’t know me: I am the acting director of the Baldrige Program. My career at NIST began in 1991, in the agency’s Office of Workforce Management. I came to NIST with many years of small business/service industry experience, an MBA, a very strong customer focus, and an innate desire and drive to improve whatever activity, process, or project in which I was involved. That attitude led me to join the Baldrige Program in 1997. During my tenure in Baldrige, I have held multiple positions: staff member, team leader, supervisor, senior program analyst, deputy director, and now acting director. I have been a leader of the efforts to transform the Baldrige Program’s business model, business plan, and organizational relationships in the post-federal-funding environment and have played a leading role in the development of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the design, development, and implementation of the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, as well as in international Baldrige activities.

    I have obviously, for personal reasons, been focusing on transitions for the last few months, reflecting on both leadership and organizational perspectives. I have synthesized thoughts from my readings on the subject into guidance for myself and others who may be facing transitions in their own leadership roles or in witnessing leadership transitions in their organizations. Chances are pretty good that you fit into one of those two categories: according to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board Company study, the average large organization replaces 12% of its senior executives annually.

    That study also found that 46% of leaders underperform during the course of their transitions. Beliefs about that time period in which new leaders must fulfill expectations placed on them during the transition vary widely. In a 2011 Corporate Board Member/RHR International study of 246 board members, 55% of respondents said that a new CEO has up to two years to deliver on expectations, and 28% believed such leaders should be given a longer time period. In contrast, 15% believed that a new CEO has only one year to deliver, and 1% said just six months. I am personally thankful that only a small fraction will be quick to judge the success or failure of the new Baldrige director!

    Whatever the time period for achieving high performance, all new leaders strive to attain that performance and to do so quickly. Let me share with you what I learned about what leaders should focus on during the transition to a new role, what organizations can do to help a new leader make the transition, and finally, the different types of situations leaders may find in moving to a new organization.

    Leader’s Focus

    I found ten areas for a leader to consider for an early focus during his or her transition. While I have assimilated information from various sources, of particular note is the book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. I present the list of ten with some sense of priority, but do not consider it sequential:

    1. Check fit.

    This area is almost a prerequisite. Make sure you and the organization are compatible. Understand the organization’s culture—what it values and how it performs its work. Make sure you understand the drivers of the organization and the organization’s industry and that you can adapt to and address them. Make sure you understand the organization’s strategic challenges, strategic advantages, and core competencies.

    2. Accelerate your learning.

    Speed up your learning curve. Learn all you can about the organization’s products, customer and workforce relationships, internal politics, and work systems and processes. How does the organization gather, disseminate, and use its knowledge?

    3. Enhance self-awareness.

    Understand your personal strengths, your weaknesses, and your blind spots. Build mechanisms to rely on others for help in areas of lesser personal capability or interest. Listen to what others say about you, and use the information for personal growth.

    4. Promote yourself.

    Make the break from your old job. This is particularly challenging if you are remaining with the same organization. What has made you successful to date may not make you successful in your new job. Different skills and relationships may be required. More of the same may not be the right answer.

    5. Exercise personal discipline.

    You can’t do it all. Decide where you will place your early focus. Do not engage in areas that will not accelerate or allow your early understanding of organizational situation and needs. Rely on others to help you.

    6. Put people first.

    As a leader you are dependent on a lot of other people. Making it clear that you value them highly is critical. Develop a relationship with your boss early. Listen to the ideas of colleagues before making early pronouncements. Understand the ideas and personalities of people reporting to you, and then build your own team. Use the team effectively as an advice and counsel network. Processes are critical to organizational success, but people make the processes succeed or fail. Your colleagues and your boss have a vested interest in your success, because your success facilitates their success.

    7. Be human; get personal.

    Great leaders care about their colleagues. They show interest (without prying) in the personal lives of their colleagues and also share information about their own personal life. Leaders should be outstanding executives and outstanding, caring human beings.

    8. Seek early wins; accelerate everyone.

    Be proactive in establishing some short-term goals that colleagues can achieve with you. Recognize them for their success. Early wins for you become wins for them and accelerate your mutual respect and sense of pride.

    9. Achieve alignment and focus.

    Determine strategic priorities and share them. Align the organization to achieve the priorities. Bring structure into alignment with strategy. Demonstrate your commitment to the strategy by involving yourself in assuring adequate resources, displaying ongoing involvement, and reviewing progress regularly.

    10. Build community.

    Personally engage with key stakeholders. Show allegiance to important partners. Build a personal relationship with key customers. Be visible in the community.

    Helping the New Leader

    Senior leadership transitions are a regular occurrence in large organizations. The organization should be prepared for these transitions and should strive to ensure the success of the new leader. Obviously, this begins with good succession planning and leadership development programs; but how does the organization best help the leader immediately after her or his appointment? According to the Corporate Executive Board Company, the best organizations help new leaders succeed by providing the following:

    1. Organizational knowledge:

    Help the new executive understand organizational culture, business model, and current organizational capabilities.

    2. Assistance with key stakeholders:

    Identify; share background information, including any challenges; and make introductions to key stakeholders.

    3. Expectations:

    Inform the leader of the organization’s expectations of him or her. Make clear the leader’s role relative to direct reports and peers.

    4. Strategic guidance:

    Inform the leader of strategic priorities that come from the organization and of transition priorities that need to be executed.

    Based on the information I shared above, I would add a fifth:

    5. Patience:

    Allow the new executive enough time to learn, adapt, and assimilate. How much time to allow will depend on many factors.

    Situational Understanding

    “Change takes place no matter what deters it. . . . There must be measured, laborious preparation for change to avoid chaos.” —Plato

    Over time and frequently at transitions in leadership every organization will change. If organizations do not thoughtfully implement strategic change—and sometimes even if they do—change will happen to them rather than through them, and that is much more challenging to handle. A key component to being comfortable in a new organization and driving necessary change is to make sure there is a common purpose and shared values between the organization and yourself. You must know what changes have occurred recently and learn of change that is needed.

    It is vital that, upon entering a new organization, the new leader understands the current organizational situation. Michael D. Watkins has characterized the five possible situations with a STARS model to help leaders assess the situation and tailor their initial strategies. The five situations are Start-up, Turnaround, Accelerated growth, Realignment, and Sustaining success. In some cases, the leader may face a combination of these situations. I believe the national Baldrige Enterprise exhibits several of these situations simultaneously at the current time as we improve alignment across the Baldrige system and seek growth opportunities for all.

    In this summary of key factors for new leaders to consider, I hope to help myself and the Baldrige Program during this transition and to help others facing a similar leadership transition. In addition, I hope existing leaders will consider these insights in helping their organizations prepare for the inevitable leadership transitions of the future.

    In coming months, we will return to a regular Insights column. I have asked Harry Hertz, the former director and now director emeritus of the Baldrige Program to continue to share his thoughts in this space with me. We look forward to contributing our ongoing insights on the road to performance excellence!


    For further information on Baldrige and this blog post refer to http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/insights.cfm


  5. 40 Lessons to Learn from Southwest

    August 30, 2011 by
    southwestairlines

    Southwest Airlines is the largest airline in the US, based on domestic passengers carried and one of the most profitable airline companies (at least in the US). On 18th June 2011 Southwest celebrated their 40th anniversary of being in business. To highlight its success Southwest Airlines published 40 lessons to learn in their in-flight magazine “Spirit”.

    The 40 lessons details many of the best practices that are often highlighted by business authors and consultants. In my opinion, the one thing that is clearly different is that Southwest Airlines does not just talk about these concepts, they apply them every day and every time.

    These lessons are universal and if you learn and apply them then you can be successful as well. So read the article and use it as checklist for  "how are we are doing".

    The 40 lessons are below and you can download the full article from here.

    Ahmed Abbas
    BPIR.com


    40 Lessons to Learn from Southwest Airlines 

    1. Keep the idea simple enough to draw on a napkin.

    2. A legend is an asset.

    3. Hire a good lawyer.

    4. Raise more money than you think you need. Now double it.

    5. Crazy is no liability.

    6. Find Executives who look like they walked off the set of "The Expendables".

    7. Target the overcharged and underserved.

    8. Be the good guy.

    9. Two strikes is one hit away from a home run.

    10. Recognize your luck.

    11. Lack of money makes you frugal.

    12. Gain talk equity.

    13. Promote from within.

    14. If the zeitgeist works for you, use it.

    15. Invent your own Culture and put a top person in charge of it.

    16. A Culture has its own language.

    17. The legal part is never over.

    18. Have a recognizable home.

    19. A crisis can contain the germ of a big idea.

    20. Simplicity has value.

    21. It doesn’t hurt to look like a toy.

    22. Remember your chief mission.

    23. Instead of whining, give a lollipop.

    24. It helps to have an extroverted Leader.

    25. Get into fun advertising wars.

    26. Take your business, not yourself, seriously.

    27. See your business as a cause.

    28. Put the worker first.

    29. Sweat the small stuff, but try not to lawyer it.

    30. Beware of imitators, but take them as a compliment.

    31. The Web ain’t cool, it’s a tool.

    32. Set and renew noble expectations.

    33. Increasing size should make you a force for good.

    34. Get green.

    35. It’s about Customer Service, not "scalability."

    36. Listen to advice, then celebrate it.

    37. Pick your peaks and stick to them.

    38. Manage permanence.

    39. Never rest on your laurels or you will get a thorn in your, um, butt.

    40. It’s OK to be unprofitable for a year.