Best Practices Identified Along the Way

May 28, 2019 by BPIR.com Limited

Article contributed orginally posted by Dawn Bailey on Blogrige

Imagine that your organization is identified as a role-model for the United States. After the well-earned celebration, would you sit on your laurels or look for new ways to continuously improve to find new best practices to adapt, implement, and share.

Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES), a 2017 Baldrige Award recipient, never stopped on its journey of continuous improvement, and at the upcoming Quest for Excellence® Conference in April, Leslie Blevins, public relations and communications manager, will share some best practices in a session titled “Our Journey and Best Practices Identified Along the Way.”

In a recent exchange (captured below), Blevins described her upcoming presentation and her perspective on the Baldrige Framework.

What will participants learn at your conference session?

BTES has been on a journey of continuous improvement for over thirty years—and we’ve learned a lot! I’ll be sharing our journey during my session and talking about our biggest lessons learned. Participants will learn ideas on how to implement their values, create a focus for their entire organization, and manage customer inquiries, among other topics. We will also discuss BTES’s high workforce retention rates and performance appraisal process.

What are your top tips for using Baldrige resources?

One of the first things that we suggest to organizations is to become involved with your state or regional Baldrige-based program. (See Alliance for Performance Excellence.) We have seen the great value in sending employees each year to be on the Board of Examiners with our state program—the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence. If a company is interested in Baldrige, having someone on its staff trained as an examiner is the first step. Second, for BTES,

Baldrige isn’t just a tool we use. It is how we run our business.

The good thing about Baldrige is that it can work for any business at any stage. If you are just starting out with Baldrige, start with the Organizational Profile and work your way in. Don’t feel like you have to answer every single question the first time.

Third—and this is one of the things that we will discuss during my session—create a focus for your organization. We do a lot of things at BTES, and prior to us creating what we call our “Key Success Factors,” we didn’t have a way to tie everything together. (Think of that arrow graphic in the Baldrige Framework [Steps toward Mature Processes] that discusses integration—our arrows were pointing in every direction.) Once we created a focus around safety, reliability, and financial outcomes, we were able to quickly align our processes and integrate everything we do back to what is most important to us.

What’s happened at your organization since receiving the Baldrige Award?

We’ve continued to improve. We’ve continued striving towards excellence. The moment we think that we’ve hit the pinnacle is the moment we start rolling down the hill, so we keep pushing, keep improving. As we move along in our journey, we will continue to fill out a Baldrige application every year to use internally so that we never back up, never lose our momentum in moving forward, in getting better. Being the best and exceeding our customers’ expectations means that every day we’ve got to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today.

Can you share an example of your success?

BTES continues to look at how we can improve our products and services. We currently offer Internet speeds of 10 Gigabits per second to our customers, which is available to every business and home in our service area. Our focus on improvement shows in our safety results, our continued decrease of electric outage minutes, and our superior financial and marketplace results, which have left over $70 million in our customers’ pockets over the last 40 years.

What do you think are a few key reasons that organizations in your sector can benefit from using the Baldrige Excellence Framework?

The Baldrige Framework asks really good questions. Answering those questions makes an organization take a hard look at what it is doing and why. Other utilities could benefit from using the Framework because it helps to standardize processes, put a focus on the organization’s customers, and ask for data to back up decision making. The Framework takes an organization from reacting to problems as they arise to being proactive in improvements.

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