1. Leadership Transition

    September 30, 2013 by nick.halley


    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

  2. South African Quality Institutes Latest News

    September 24, 2013 by ahmed

    South African Quality Institute (SAQI) www.saqi.co.za is the national body that co-ordinates the Quality effort in South Africa. Their monthly newsletter is an excellent source of information to keep up with the latest quality issues in South Africa.

    September 2013:

    • Evolution in the process approach by Dr Alastair Walker
    • Abolishing the Standard-Based Mind-set with ISO 9001, by T D Nelson
    • Creativity, Part 2:  Finding Creative Space, by James H. Harrington
    • Lean thinking in Health Care, by Jaques Snyders
    • Who is the customer of your document?, by Paul Naysmith
    • Intelligence: it’s about type and not how much, by Dr Richard Hayward

    Click here to download this newsletter.

    August 2013:

    • Evolution in management system standards, by Dr Alastair Walker
    • 5S housekeeping in service industries, by Jacques Snyders
    • Performance improvement creativity, part I: waking up Oscar, by H. James Harrington
    • Absenteeism: eroding company profits, by CGF Research Institute
    • Grown-ups guiding children fire-fighters, by Dr Richard Hayward

    Click here to download this newsletter.

    July 2013:

    • ISO9001 and the PDCA cycle, by Paul Harding
    • Is Perfection the Enemy of Good?, by H. James Harrington
    • Our social responsibility duties in quality audits, By Paul Naysmith
    • Boardroom domination – treating minority shareholders fairly, by CGF Research Institute
    • Listen to the coach and win!, Dr Richard Hayward

    Click here to download this newsletter.

  3. 20 years of learning, nine key changes in performance excellence

    September 12, 2013 by ahmed

    On August 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act, aiming to improve U.S. competitiveness and create sustainable economy. The programme was named after Malcolm Baldrige, for his contribution to long-term improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of government. Malcolm Baldrige served as Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until 1987 Baldrige

    Baldrige Award and Baldrige Programme have guided organisations on their journeys toward continuous improvement and business excellence through seven criteria:
    1- Leadership
    2- Strategic planning
    3- Customer focus
    4- Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management
    5- Workforce focus
    6- Operations focus
    7- Results

    After 25 years, Baldrige Performance Excellence programme have helped thousands of organisations to develop and maintain a world-class operations around the world. According to research conducted by the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research there are at least 8 countries follow an exact copy of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and 9 follow a tailored version of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.

    Dr. Harry Hertz, Director, Baldrige Performance Excellence Programme, after 21 years in Baldrige programme 18 of them as a programme director, decided to retire on the 25th anniversary for Baldrige programme.

    In the blog below Harry shares his 20-years insights that summarise some of the key performance characteristics of Baldrige role-model organisations.

    I always find the annual Baldrige Quest for Excellence Conference to be more than a mere gathering of people to discuss topics of common interest. It is an energy-rich experience. The 25th anniversary event was all that and more because of the combination of celebratory gala, Baldrige Award ceremony, and Quest for Excellence Conference.
    Each year I use this April column to share some of my insights from the conference presentations. Since this is my last Quest for Excellence Conference as director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, I’ve decided to share two groups of insights. The first set is derived from the presentations given by our four 2012 Baldrige Award recipients; the second set is insights learned during the 20 years that I have been attending the conferences.

    The 25th Annual Quest for Excellence
    These are challenging times for all organizations. The unique blend of Baldrige Award recipients in 2012 (Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control—large manufacturing; MESA—small business/manufacturing; North Mississippi Health Services—large health care system; and the City of Irving, Texas— municipal government) allowed me to observe a set of commonalities that represent “universal truths” that are independent of sector. Although the following two key themes were not necessarily stated directly in conference presentations, I found a profound commonality in the mindsets and operations of the very different enterprises.

    1. The importance of relationships and transparency. These two concepts—relationships and transparency—are foundational to the sustainability of an organization or enterprise. Role-model organizations strive to build strong and supportive relationships with employees, customers, partners, and key suppliers. A key to building these strong relationships is transparency and openness in all aspects of the relationship. If transparency and relationships are strong, trust between people and organizations is built, and there is a basis for both longevity in the relationship and commitment to allegiance and support through periods of change.

    2. The logic chain of purpose ? employee ? customer ? strategy (implementation). With a clear, meaningful, and well-communicated sense of purpose, an organization can gain an enduring sense of commitment from employees. That commitment leads to employees building strong customer relationships and loyalty. Furthermore, that loyalty from employees and customers engenders support at all levels in both groups for the organization’s strategy and its implementation. This is particularly important in times of rapidly changing external environments that require agility, trust, and commitment as strategy and, therefore, strategy implementation change.

    20 years of learning
    As stated above, because this is my last opportunity as director of the Baldrige Program to reflect on what I have learned in 20 years of attending Baldrige Quest for Excellence conferences, I am taking advantage of this occasion to share some of my “20-year” insights. I believe the following themes summarize some of the key changes in the evolving challenges, complexity, and definition of performance excellence. This list also summarizes some of the key performance characteristics of Baldrige role-model organizations. I present the nine themes in roughly chronological order from the early 1990s through the new millennium and current decade.

    1. From individual criteria categories to the interaction of categories: In the early 1990s, a role-model business was characterized by outstanding performance in the individual categories of the Baldrige criteria. Since the mid-1990s, outstanding organizations have excelled not only in the individual categories, but also in the interaction among and alignment of the categories. For example, human resource or workforce plans and workforce development needs and opportunities should align with the organization’s strategic plan. Results should measure progress in key areas related to implementation of those plans and workforce development outcomes in those areas. Strategic planning should incorporate voice-of-the-customer input, which, in turn, might affect workforce development opportunities.

    2. From alignment to integration: Outstanding organizations moved from aligning key processes and measuring the related results to integrating key processes, with active feedback from in-process measures and outcomes results. Such organizations moved from consistency among and sequential focus on processes to harmonization of plans, processes, information, resource decisions, and results. Integration has meant that the components of organizational performance are being managed as an interconnected system.

    3. Succession planning: We started to see a clear focus on succession planning by senior leaders, with the specific intent of grooming the next generation of leaders of the organization. Furthermore, this succession planning cascaded through the organization with development of “leaders” at all levels of the organization. Coupled with this change was a new focus on knowledge management, capturing the intrinsic and extrinsic knowledge of the organization and its workforce in order to enhance organizational sustainability.

    4. Ethics: With ethics scandals seeming to constantly be in business headlines, role-model organizations with no significant ethics issues or challenges nonetheless strengthened their ethics programs. Senior leaders’ communications addressed ethics on a regular basis, hotlines and ombudsperson positions were established, and regular ethics training sessions relevant to specific business issues were instituted.

    5. Strategic advantages and challenges: Strategic plans started to have a foundation based on a clear understanding of an organization’s strategic challenges and advantages, addressing those challenges, and building on the strategic advantages the organization enjoyed in its marketplace. Internal communication and transparency improved both here and in the area of organizational ethics. If the workforce better understood the organization’s operating environment, its members could contribute more effectively, both operationally and strategically.

    6. From satisfaction to engagement: A change in focus from satisfaction to engagement seemed to occur among role-model organizations simultaneously for their workforce and their customers. Organizations were realizing that engagement was a true differentiator in the marketplace; building employee and customer loyalty and retention was a key contributor to organizational sustainability. The cost of hiring and training a new employee far exceeded the cost of continuing to develop an existing employee, and the cost of acquiring new customers was much greater than building a relationship and enhancing business with an existing customer.

    7. Core competencies: Leading organizations started identifying their organizational core competencies, those that related to intellectual property that they wanted to protect and those that formed the basis of any strategic advantage they enjoyed in the marketplace. They also started looking at core competencies they would need in the future to sustain the organization. Core competencies factored into strategic decisions, such as work that would be outsourced and work that would be accomplished by the organization’s employees.

    8. Workforce capability and capacity: The next area to achieve focus from role-model organizations was workforce capability and capacity. Closely related to core competency and work considerations are the decisions about the workforce expertise needed (capability) and the numbers of people needed with particular skill sets or cross-training (capacity). The challenge was to balance capability and capacity needs both now and looking into the future, with a focus on retraining and development needs, as well as growth areas. Where a decline in workforce was indicated, the challenge was planning so that natural attrition would suffice.

    9. Innovation: This focus area for the 2013–2014 Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence arose from the changes we are seeing in role-model organizations. They are embracing a culture of innovation and establishing strategic processes for investment as well as processes for identifying totally new approaches to products, processes, and business models. Innovation has become a driver of sustainability for these organizations.

    Looking at this nine-step series of changes in organizational performance characteristics, I see one conclusion as inevitable: Leading a successful enterprise and achieving sustainability involves increasing complexity. The challenge going forward is to embrace this complexity in a manner that allows agility and simplicity in implementing change. I believe our country’s economic future hinges on it!

  4. Journey to Excellence: Iredell-Statesville Schools

    September 2, 2013 by ahmed

    In the past five years, the US economy has been suffering and this has of course resulted in there being a number of cuts in various governmental departments and one of them was the education sector.

    New infrastructure, supplies and programmes to improve teaching at such a time seemed impossible. However, even in such hard times, there has been a ray of hope– the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. The Baldrige criteria have helped to change Iredell-Statesville Schools from being average to high performing schools.

    Iredell-Statesville Schools in North Carolina is a district of thirty-six schools, that was struggling against a measly graduation rate and a high dropout percentage. However, ISS still had a dream to reach the top ten ranked districts in the state.

    By 2008, the picture had turned around, with the help of innovative programmes like the early-college programme designed for people who are the first in their family to go to college, other imaginative methods like a differentiated diploma (letting a student graduate with less than the customary credits at ISS).

    As a result ISS won the 2008 Baldrige Award, although funding was still a problem. Dropout rates became very low and the graduation rate soared to eighty percent. This improvement allowed ISS to apply to a grant to the US Department of Education later to solve the funding problem.

    Baldrige processes have been highly effective for ISS and turned their performance around, which is evidence that everybody has the potential; one only needs to apply business excellence frameworks properly to bring out the potential.

    Below is a blog post from Blogrige (the official Baldrige blog) on Iredell-Statesville Schools’s Business Excellence journey

    It’s no surprise to anyone that the economy has been bad. And in the education sector, where healthy budgets mean that teachers have the needed supplies and students have the adequate guidance to learn, a bad economy can be especially bad.

    The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program has been interviewing past Baldrige Award recipients to ask if they are still using the Criteria for Performance Excellence and what the Criteria have done for them; we call these interviews “success stories

    At Iredell-Statesville Schools (ISS) in North Carolina, a 2008 Baldrige Award winner, the economy’s impact on the budget has been bad, but with the help of the Criteria, senior leaders have put processes in place and tightened up those processes. This has helped the district to be more competitive for grants and embed its culture of continuous improvement.

    “Our district’s commitment to quality has served us well,” says Brady Johnson, superintendent, Iredell-Statesville Schools. “This is particularly true in the wake of the recession. In spite of draconian budget cuts, and the loss of 11 percent of our workforce, our students’ performance continues to improve. I attribute this to our focus on the Baldrige Criteria and our commitment to continuous improvement.”

    Read more about ISS’s story. (See right-hand column and scroll down to the story “A Vision to be Among the Best.”).