Friday, February 21, 2020



The 3 P’s: Starting Points for Integrating Baldrige

Where do you start? You want to make your organization more competitive, better able to meet customer needs, less inclined to mistakes, but you’ve been doing things the same way for years and you’re not sure where to begin.

When I get this question, I suggest starting with one or more of the 3 P’s: processes, people, or planning.

Start with…

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Can Baldrige Play with (Social) Madness?

If you’re even relatively active with social media, you’ve probably heard of the Social Madness competition that Capital One Spark Business is putting on.  Social Madness lets businesses showcase their social media skills in a tournament-style competition, played in a series of local and nationwide rounds.  Companies compete by collecting the most online votes at and the most new connections on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  The winner, theoretically, has the most social influence, as they are determined based on the highest number of followers, fans, and “likes.”  The companies are sorted by size, paired off against each other in a bracket, and the fans get to decide who wins.  Now in round three, many big names are still in the game, including Target, Burt’s Bees, Fandango, Whole Foods, and Remington Arms.

Not to derail the subject, but have any of you heard of the EFQM Good Practice competition?  In a similar tone to the Social Madness project, EQFM promotes leading organizations to expose their good practices, key objectives, and the elements that were implemented in order to succeed.  They’re looking to promote sharing of best practices to benefit all organizations.  A video and report need to be submitted for each entry, and must detail deployment and assessment methods, in addition to how the particular organization will move forward with next steps.  This year’s winner was SUE Vodokanal of St. Petersburg for their work in attracting a younger audience to understand the environmental impact of water consumption and create conditions for sustainable development.  “Our objective is to attract the active Internet audience (mainly the young people who will have to make important decisions in some 5-10 years) to the environmental and water consumption issues.”  Other big names in the competition included Maersk, Virgin Media, and…

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Simulated Design of Experiments to Solve Difficult Problems

Hospitals seeking to improve health care delivery often face the challenge of implementing process changes without benefit of tests of change that could clearly demonstrate success and identify potential risks.  In particular, the disruption of already strained processes can severely affect patient quality of care and safety, thereby constraining the ability to test proposed improvements.  For one faced with the uncertainty of success, risk aversion can limit the range of change considered and derail otherwise successful quality improvement efforts.

Alleviating this problem, simulation and design of experiments (DOE) provide a powerful approach to quality management and process improvement in hospitals.  DOE is a stepwise, statistically based method that efficiently guides the identification and selection of changes that collectively will optimize performance.  Typically, this involves iterative testing of different factors, settings, and configurations, using the results of successive tests to further refine the product or process.  When properly done, a DOE approach produces more precise results while using many fewer experimental runs than other methods (e.g., one factor at a time, or trial and error).  The outcome is a robust design that better meets customer specifications and production and delivery constraints.  A more detailed overview of DOE is provided in Chapter 19, Accurate and Reliable Measurement Systems and Advanced Tools.

A designed, experimental approach is not new to healthcare.  For example, medical researchers use a carefully designed series of experiments to optimize medical divides and drug formulations.  However, a traditional DOE in a hospital requires time-consuming, real-life testing of multiple factors or process variables that cannot easily be done within controlled, protected environments,…

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Acknowledging Excellence – Pal’s Sudden Service

In 2001, Pal’s Sudden Service was the first restaurant company of any size to earn the Baldrige National Quality Award, and was the first in Tennessee to be twice awarded the Tennessee Quality Excellence Award.  Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) recently ran their bi-monthly publication (which has over 60,000 subscribers) highlighting how Pal’s metrics are “nearly unheard of in the food service world.” They aren’t stingy about sharing the secrets to their success either; every month they share their success stories with the Pal’s Business Excellence Institute (BEI), which sees hundreds of business leaders come through its doors annually.  K&N Management, another food service operation and 2010 Baldrige Award recipient, has visited the BEI 13 times in the past nine years!  At this point, you may be asking yourself, who, or what, is Pal’s?

Pal’s Sudden Service runs 23 double-drive-through restaurants in Tennessee and Virginia, and averages about $2 million per unit since its conception in 1956.  When they aren’t busy winning awards (Pal’s was also just awarded a prestigious international award for the visual appearance and navigation of their website by the International Academy of Visual Arts), Pal’s is heavily focused on delivering excellent customer service.  With their double-sided buildings, they can serve a customer at the drive-through every 18 seconds.  Even at this rate, they make only one mistake every 3,500 orders, and maintain a customer satisfaction score around 98%.  Their unique training methodology may be the culprit here; at Pal’s, every leader needs to have a coaching and training target every single day.  Whether their goals are about motivating the crew or supporting new employees in training, they are constantly making efforts to improve and drive business forward.  In addition to leadership support, employees are constantly getting tested and certified with performance tests.  They’ve implemented training tracking software, which will monitor each…

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Ames Rubber – Still Bouncing Along

Back in 1993, Ames Rubber Corporation was the small business category recipient of the Mac Baldrige Quality Award. Founded in 1949, Ames was experiencing annual sales of about $45-50 million around the time they won. These were primarily sales of rubber rollers that feed paper into printers, copiers, and typewriters, but they were also producing highly specialized parts to protect the trans-axle of front-wheel-drive vehicles. The company is incredibly focused on customer satisfaction; the entire organizational strategy is designed to ensure that the customer is driving business. For example, all of the company’s products are made to order to customer design and specification.

At the time, Xerox was Ames’ prime customer, and then-President Joel Marvil knew that Xerox was transforming themselves with a new concept, “Leadership Through Quality.” Ames decided to undertake a similar effort, brought in Xerox for help with training, and executed their “Excellence through Total Quality” program. By the time their training effort was completed a year later, over 17,000 training hours had been undertaken by the organization, successfully prepping them for a new challenge. Two strategy guides were developed: a nine-step Quality Improvement Process, and a six-step Problem-Solving Process.

Pareto charts helped to isolate and track the company’s greatest problems, and tracking systems were developed to monitor defects throughout the production lines. For Xerox, Ames’ largest customer, the defect rate dropped from over 30,000 parts per million in 1989 to just 11 by 1993. During that same time period, internal productivity increased by 48%. In 1993 alone, team ideas saved the company over $3 million. Ames even had the foresight in ’93…

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Strategic Quality Planning, Improvement, and Control

Quality can be applied as a strategic tool by developing a quality niche that focuses on one or a small number of quality dimensions throughout the universal processes of planning, improvement, and control. Seldom is it advisable, or even possible, to pursue all eight (performance, features, reliability, conformance, durability, serviceability, aesthetics, and perceived quality) of the quality dimensions simultaneously. This is because of both resource allocation toward quality and trade-offs that may be inherent among the dimensions. Similarly, objectives and activities should be aligned so that quality initially planned into a processed product is consistent with and reinforced by day-to-day control and longer-term improvement efforts. As pointed out by Porter (1996), “strategy involves creating ‘fit’ among a company’s activities.” When developing a quality niche strategy, specific, conscious choices must be made. The key is to discover which quality dimensions are most important to your customers and which are poorly met by competing products and firms.

Quality Strategy Failures in Processing

It is instructive to consider quality strategy failures as they relate to processing-based companies and the lessons they suggest.

  • Failure to measure the correct dimensions. Injected drugs marketed on the presumption that efficacy is the driving factor in determining value may be superseded by less effective formulations that take into consideration the convenience of oral, dermal, or nasal administration. As pointed out by…

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Xerox Corporation

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Joseph M. Juran’s book, The Architect of Quality (2004).  In this piece, he is reflecting on particularly interesting past clients that he had worked with, specifically Xerox.  Xerox was a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient in 1989, then again in 1997, and is still going strong today.

Xerox Corporation

Xerox produced and marketed the first xerographic copier, a machine that outperformed every copying process then in existence.  The patents gave the company a monopoly and enabled it to grow in sales and profits at a rate seldom matched in financial history.

Prior to the 1980s, my contacts with Xerox were brief.  Some Xerox managers had attended my courses.  On at least one occasion (1963), I conducted a five-day training course for managers and engineers at the company offices in Rochester, New York.  Then, in the early 1980s I was drawn into a most serious problem—Xerox’s sales were hemorrhaging, and the reason was poor quality.

The Xerox machines were seriously failure-prone, and there were other quality problems as well.  Xerox’s chief response had been to create a field service force to restore service, but the customers were not satisfied; they wanted no service interruptions.  The depth of this feeling was not known to the Xerox senior managers.  Their “instrument panel” kept them up to date on their dazzling financial…

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Marketing Customer Service

In our dynamic business world, where consumers are constantly revising their preferences and trying to make their own small businesses (their homes) run smoothly, business leaders need to ensure their company is honing its services to those evolving customer needs. Revisiting the Baldrige Criteria can keep us in check by reminding us how important it is to respect customer individuality. As explained in its customer focus section,

“Knowledge of customers, customer groups, market segments, former customers, and potential customers allows your organization to tailor product offerings, to support and tailor your marketing strategies, to develop more customer-focused workforce culture, to develop new business, and to ensure organizational sustainability.”

This certainly seems pretty straightforward, but the knowledge of your customers, and development for customer-focused workforce culture are carrying heavier weight than ever in today’s economy, and business leaders need to act fast to keep up. The meaning of customer respect and service is essentially becoming a leading marketing asset for businesses aspiring for success, versus just a “good idea.” Quality customer service can have a greater impact on your business than quality marketing.

Author of Leadership Matters: CEO Survival Guide, Mike Myatt, is an expert in business leadership and recently contributed in Forbes magazine about the absolute need for companies and organizations to utilize the opportunity this generation holds for prosperity in a customer-focused business plan. “People like to be helped, not sold,” he wrote. “One-size-fits-all methodologies in sales are suffering whether you realize it or…

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How ST Microelectronics Maintains their Edge

Awards, rankings, and scores have long been a means to recognize performance. That performance is driven by motivation; the tangible inspiration that can takes its shape in a framed employee-of-the-month certificate on the wall of a twenty-seventh-floor cubical. Motivation for recognition is what drives employees and executives of companies big and small. Honors keep ambition fresh; they give people something to shoot for. But, it is important for recipients of impressive merit to preserve their worthy reputation––even if down the road, they experience recipient-replacement, over and over.

Thirteen years ago, ST Microelectronics earned the Malcolm Baldrige award for their excellence in manufacturing quality, and since then, the company has yet to reclaim it. Despite dusty traces on their quality credential, ST has been doing remarkably well, financially, having nearly doubled their 2010 revenue last year ($353 to $638 million). Sure, handfuls of companies prosper financially without adherence to quality-excellence––why might ST’s success still have a connection to the Baldrige Criteria?

In a world where smart phones are becoming nearly essential to professional and social life (some may argue for safety, too) there seems to be this (semi)permanent opportunity––in some ways, obligation––for services and providers to constantly improve the make-up of tabs, pads, phones, and computers. That is to say, technology is constantly evolving and improving to a degree where consumers have become experts on a subject that seemed so new in 1999, when ST received their Award.

Last month, ST released a patented technology…

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Quality and Sustainability: An Introduction

Organizations large and small that have gained success in the past and want to thrive in the future are being challenged to find – and capitalize upon – opportunities to meet their own strategic goals while also meeting societal needs. More and more organizations are being encouraged to look at the entire landscape unfolding before them, from a perspective of a balanced array of outcomes characterized by the new “triple bottom line” of people, planet, and profits (Savitz and Weber 2006). As we go forward into the twenty-first century, organizations cannot focus only on profits and their bottom line; they also must take into consideration people and our planet. Quality Management has always taken people into consideration; now as we go forward a third dimension has been added that encompasses environment sustainability and stewardship.

Quality and environmental sustainability are becoming increasingly interdependent. Organizations of all sizes are looking at ways to increase efficiencies and productivity without compromising the integrity of the environment. As a result, as we see it, there is a paradigm shift evolving within the quality management arena as quality and environmental sustainability are merging toward a partnership. This partnership makes perfect sense; the performance excellence we strive for in a business environment extends to the larger, natural environment that provides the context in which businesses operate.

The partnership accelerated with the creation of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 14000 Environmental Management System, a companion system to ISO 9000. Within increased environmental awareness, organizations are looking for innovative ways to reach their strategic goals while keeping within societal and environmental…

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