1. Applying Baldrige model in schools to deliver extraordinary results

    April 7, 2016 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Blogrige by Christine Schaefer

    During the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s 28th Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference, national role models in every sector have showcased their best practices. They’ve also shared candid stories of their organization’s “journeys” of improvement using the Baldrige framework.

    Charter School of San Diego (CSSD)

    Speaking as the founder, president, and CEO of the Charter School of San Diego (CSSD) before a mixed-sector audience of hundreds, Mary Searcy Bixby commanded attention with a soft voice and a powerful story. CSSD’s story was told in part by individual students and their teachers via video clips at the start of the leadership presentation. “It is [our school’s] dream that someday performance excellence will be found in every place in America so that every student has an opportunity to be challenged, to be successful, to transform,” said Bixby.

    She told the Quest for Excellence attendees, “It is an honor to be here with people who have arrived at a point in their careers and their creation of organizations where status quo is not good enough, where good is not good enough, where excellence is what we’re all looking for.”

    Bixby’s school was the first charter school authorized by San Diego County’s public school district. At its founding more than 20 years ago, she explained, she was challenged by the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce’s business roundtable for education to “create a workforce that had a client-centeredness.” Reflecting such a focus on students today, CSSD educators create and carry out personalized plans to support each student’s educational goals. In addition, the school is designed around small learning centers to provide a strong focus on each student.

    Bixby also founded the Altus Institute, a network of charter schools that acts as a resource for sharing innovations in education and provides a model for education reform. Through the Altus Institute, the model for CSSD has been replicated three times, she noted, with CSSD serving as the anchor school.

    The Context

    More than 35,000 students have been served to date by CSSD, which celebrated its 20th year of educating students in the 2014-2015 school year.

    “Every day there are students coming to us who have lost all motivation, have lost hope, and cannot understand what it takes to be successful in school,” said Bixby. In that context, she explained the school’s core competency, which it has defined as “transforming lives” to suggest wider impact than some might expect of a school. “When you think of a school, you say, ‘OK, that’s the delivery of instruction,’” she explained. “We do so much more than that. … we look at the whole child. Every student is important to us. And we know that we’re not only affecting that student but their family and their community.”

    In the 2014-2015 school year, CSSD served about 4,600 students. The 2015-2016 school year budget of about $23.7 million supports a current workforce of 192 employees, with teachers working at 18 learning center sites dispersed across the county. Sixty-nine percent of CSSD’s students are socioeconomically disadvantaged, as defined by their qualifying for free and reduced-price meals at school based on household income. Twenty-eight percent of CSSD students have parents who have not graduated from high school, and 32 languages are spoken in the homes of the CSSD student body.

    What’s more, 60 percent of enrolling CSSD students arrive behind in school credits—some are three to four years behind in English language courses and as many as seven years behind in mathematics. In regard to such cases, Bixby said, “As we expanded into different communities, we learned that there are kids who just need a different learning environment.” She added, “How can we logically apply a cookie-cutter policy to every single student when they all have different needs? And that’s what we try to address.”

    Innovation and Leadership from the Start

    From CSSD’s inception, as described by Bixby, there was a great focus on fostering innovation. “We concentrated on creating a culture where innovation was a part of our spirit, of our charism,” she said. “It was a part of how we did business every day.”

    “We believed,” continued Bixby, “that if an organization was high-performing, was quality-centered, that it would have excellent results, and so we began our journey.” After about ten years of operationalizing that hypothesis, Bixby recalled, the school leaders decided they needed something more. Introduced to the Baldrige framework by business leaders in the community, Bixby and her school embraced it.

    Bixby referred to her school’s definition of leadership as part of its “uniqueness”: “It’s not about the individual. People need to be trained—taught—that they have ideas that are valuable,” she said. “Those people on the front lines can tell us how best to meet the needs of our customer… So we started with a definition of leadership that embraced everyone in the organization.”

    Later in her presentation, Bixby pointed out that CSSD’s Leadership Management System (pictured below) incorporates all of the categories of the Education Criteria for Performance (the self-assessment questions that are part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework), rather than separating “Leadership.”


    Baldrige Lessons

    Bixby said the Baldrige approach and framework helped her overcome a “constraint” in her leadership: “I never understood strategic planning until I got into Baldrige,” she said. “Strategic planning isn’t real until you see it every day in the scorecards, until you can take data [in] real time and see how that data is fitting into your strategic plan—until every single employee in the organization can articulate how their work relates directly to the strategic plan.”

    In speaking of the challenge her school once faced in building data-driven systems to support planning for student learning, Bixby spoke of the value of cross-sector learning as part of the Baldrige community. The school learned that “it wasn’t essential to have the same type of business,” she said. “What was essential was to do that sharing where we learned from other organizations.”

    Extraordinary Results

    Among school results Bixby highlighted, data show that 98 percent of CSSD students either graduate from the school or move forward to others to complete high school. The school also boasts a 99 percent satisfaction level (based on surveys of students and parents). In benchmarking its performance to track and guide its results, CSSD uses as comparisons the customer satisfaction results of two big businesses with reputations for customer focus and satisfaction: Nordstrom’s and Marriott (as the parent organization of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, a two-time recipient of the Baldrige Award).

    Bixby also shared that CCSD’s student dropout rate is better than the California state and national averages despite the fact that a significant proportion of the charter school’s students are considered at high risk of dropping out.

    In regard to those results, Bixby again emphasized the importance of teachers having real-time data readily available to guide their instructional decisions to promote individual students’ learning.

    Workforce Engagement through Baldrige

    “One of the constraints that I know people come across is … that they can’t get everybody in their organization on board” with adopting the Baldrige framework, said Bixby. “Many people say, ‘Baldrige is such a good idea. How do we get everybody on board?’”

    In response to such questions, she offered this insight: “We believe there is a tremendous connection between culture and Baldrige. As you’re working on Baldrige, you are working on creating exceptional cultures among the workforce, parents, the vendors, everybody that comes into contact with your school. We talk about the fact that anyone that comes into contact with [our school] at all is going to have a part in [our core competency of] transforming a life.”

    In her conclusion, Bixby said, “We have a commitment to the future generation because we know that America’s economic future—the health of our children and our grandchildren, the defense of those American values that we support—is dependent upon all kids in every neighborhood, urban or rural. We are committed to that, and Baldrige has helped us on our journey.”

  2. The ONE metric which tells you if your product’s got Mojo

    April 3, 2016 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Linkedin by Amit Somani

    It is every product manager’s dream that their users love their creation. Does your product have mojo? Google defines mojo as follows:


    Most analyse all sorts of metrics to see whether their product has got mojo. Some look at repeat visitation, user engagement, session time, organic growth, virality coefficient etc. These are all fabulous metrics and you can’t live without them. Yet, there is one super simple metric that tells you whether you have a product that users love.

    Its called Net Promoter Score (NPS).

    Users need to answer a single question that asks them if they would recommend your product. That’s it. They give you scores ranging from 0 (worst, no way) to 10 (best, have asked my mom to buy it). Based on the rating, NPS can be calculated as:

    NPS = Promoters [# of ratings of 9, 10]- Detractors [# of ratings 0 thru 6]/ Total

    Don’t let the simplicity of the formula fool you. It is quite profound. And here’s why:

    It captures people that *love* your product less the ones that don’t. The key ingredient is Promoters who rate you 9 or 10. Those users don’t just like your product; they don’t just think it’s cute; they don’t just think it’s a nice to have but they LOVE it and would put their stamp of approval recommending it to their near and dear ones. As soon as a user is willing to put themselves on the line for YOUR product or a service, you’ve got a winner. Users pay you for your product with money, time and trust. And when they are willing to evangelise your product, it’s priceless!

    Still not buying it? Well, think of how many products that you would recommend to others that you have used in the last month? Last year? Probably less than a handful. It is an elite, exclusive club.

    Let me point out of some of the companies that have scored high NPS scores year after year. They include the likes of Nike, Apple, American Express, Costco, Netflix, Starbucks, etc. All these score over 60% on NPS. Some of them are over 70%. That’s astounding. That’s not just 60-70 people voting 9, 10. That’s 60-70 *more* people voting at the highest level compared to people that vote 6 or lower. That’s staggering. It is no surprise that these are legendary brands.

    Does NPS have any correlation to the core business?
    NPS has a direct impact on several business metrics. By definition, it is a measure of ‘Customer Satisfaction’. In many studies, customer satisfaction has shown itself to be directly correlated to revenue.

    NPS also has a direct correlation with your marketing effectiveness. It gives you an understanding of the otherwise fuzzy word-of-mouth quotient for your product. The higher the NPS is trending, the lower your cost of acquisition (CAC) should be. It can also be a leading indicator for customer churn, which will have a direct impact on your revenue. Last but not the least, it helps you get a sense of the elusive Lifetime Value (LTV).

    How and when should you measure NPS?
    Just ensure you a pick a random, statistically significant set of users to poll. You need to pose this question to them right after they have experienced your product. It is important to ask them while the entire experience is fresh in their mind. That’s it. If you are an Ecommerce portal, you might ask them right after they have bought something. If you are an airline, you might ask them right after they have completed a flight with you.

    As for the frequency, you should do it with different cohorts ever so often. For most young companies, I recommend doing it monthly or quarterly. Don’t look at just the absolute score but look at how you are trending month on month.

    Does NPS only work for Consumer (B2C) companies?
    NPS can work for any company. It could be B2C, B2B, online, or even offline companies.

    In fact, you can make this notion work for even your employment brand – aka Employee NPS. Let’s say you survey your employees and ask them would they recommend this as a place for their friends to work? No wonder, companies that get most of their hires through referrals are often the best places to work at.

    Where all can you apply NPS ?
    Once you get the basic score, you can get quite granular with NPS. You can break it down to various parts of your experience. For example, you may ask how was our on-boarding or signup process? Or, how was the post sales process? How about the NPS for the call centre?

    You may apply NPS to users acquired through different marketing channels. It may be interesting to see the NPS differences of users acquired from Facebook vs. say Google or Apple.

    One should view the NPS as a framework. You can define and apply in your business context as appropriate.

    What is NPS not good for?

    NPS is a great, simple, single metric for customer delight. NPS can act as a bellwether sign to the health of your product or service. It does depend on effective and random sampling and hence may not be representative of all users. It is also not a replacement for any of your usual, granular marketing and product metrics. You still need to measure conversion rates, user engagement, referrals, user retention, etc.

    Go ahead and implement NPS. It will take you little time to do it and give you a phenomenal return on investment. Use the NPS as leading indicator and in conjunction with your other metrics. Once you try it, I am confident you will be a Promoter for NPS!

  3. The Importance of Leadership and the “Best Kept Secret” for using a Baldrige application

    April 2, 2016 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Blogrige by Dawn Marie Bailey

    Dr. Katherine Gottlieb, president/CEO of Baldrige Award recipient Southcentral Foundation (SF) and recipient of the 2015 Harry S. Hertz Leadership Award, knows a thing or two about leadership. During her tenure, she and her organization have not only racked up corporate, program, and individual awards, but Gottlieb has received quite a few leadership awards, too, including the Bridge Builders of Anchorage “Excellence in Community Service Award,” the Alaska Public Health Association’s Alaska Meritorious Health Service Award, and an Alaska Pacific University honorary doctorate in public service.

    In preparation for her presentation on leadership at the 28th annual Quest for Excellence Conference, I asked her all about leadership.

    Why has leadership been important to you, your organization?

    The importance of leadership has been demonstrated in multiple ways:

    • first, in creating an organization that has an environment of trust and transparency, where customers and employees feel like they own the successes of the system;
    • second, leadership has guided the organization through systematic changes quickly, without causing fatigue;
    • third, the successful buy-in of leadership for the adoption of change, and the use of the Baldrige tools to drive systematic change and innovation; and
    • last, by leadership honoring customer and employee beliefs, values, and traditions.

    Can you share a story of leadership that has shaped your current success?

    There are so many stories to share. Trust can be earned through building relationships and creating an environment of trust by building an infrastructure based on a Vision and Mission, which is built on goals, objectives, and operational principles; this is what ties together all of SCF. And this includes governance, executive leadership, and all employees.

    What are your top tips for using Baldrige tools to support leadership?

    The Baldrige Excellence Framework as a tool doesn’t tell an organization what to do—it asks questions that drive systematic improvement and change that may be adapted to the culture of an organization.

    When an organization believes it has reached the top of successful change, Baldrige encourages the people to take even more steps through suggested opportunities for improvements. By following these steps to improvement, an organization may develop a means for delegation of authority, leading to higher employee and customer satisfaction.

    Baldrige is a journey, a tool that may be used for years after an award is won. It is universal and may be used for all types of businesses to reach for best practices and succeed.

    What else might participants learn at your conference session?

    We are choosing to attend the Quest for Excellence® conference to continue to grow and keep up with the latest innovative ways for improvement. We continue to interact with and visit other organizations that have won the Baldrige Award.

    We have hired and placed people on our organizational development team to continue to remind us of those things learned while instructing and teaching others.

    And I believe SF has found the best kept secret on how to utilize the Baldrige application—we plan to share this at the workshop.

    What are a few key reasons that organization in your sector can benefit from using the Baldrige Excellence Framework?

    It is all about the strengths of the tool and putting it to work:

    • Systematic change with innovation equals sustainability for the organization.
    • Utilizing a tool that is more than “words”; Baldrige drives innovation.
    • Baldrige ensures that all staff members use the same language and continue to grow one with another toward best practices.