Tuesday, September 30, 2003

More news from the Virginia Forum for Excellence

Back from the conference; very worthwhile.

I attended Chris W.'s session on collaborative organizational assessments using a Baldrige-based criteria. Yeh, some of us might have thought it was familiar. Chris did a great job telling our story. I think it got folks to think about alternatives to application-based assessments.

Also attended the awards ceremony. There was recognition of former award recipients, including the Coast Guard Finance Center. And, the ceremony highlighted this year's recipients. Of note, there were no "medallion" recipients, the highest level of SPQA recognition. There were two recipients of the Plaque for Progress in Performance Excellence:

The awards ceremony was very nice (the meal was great... okay, it was chicken, but I happen to love chicken... with a dark sauce, mashed potatoes, veggies... and wonderful carrot cake) although a little subdued. I was sitting with a friend of mine from graduate school (okay, we will not talk about how long ago that was); her organization, Prince William County's Department of Social Services, received the plaque last year. She commented that last year with every announcement there were hoots & howls; each recipient had brought lots of folks from the organization. She said PWC DSS brought more than 30 people last year (even this year, with the organization not receiving and recognition, they brought nearly a dozen folks).

The recipient organizations appeared to have brought only a few people this year -- the senior leaders. You know what this tells me: that these organizations haven't really driven and understanding and excitement of the Criteria down into the organization: only the senior leaders really care.

I think this is emblematic of many award applicants: that we really haven't figured out a way to get this down into the organization. Sure, our CPC process is a great start with this. But if we do the CPC with just the senior leaders, we haven't driven down into the organization to get a broad understanding of the Criteria.

With round two of the CPC's, perhaps it might be right in certain units to do a cross-functional/cross-level CPC: have key people from different levels of the organization partipate in the collaborative assessement.

One of the earlies facilitated self-assessments done in the Coast Guard was in the spring of 1977 at SUPRTCEN E-City as they were participating in the mandatary, MLCA-mandated, Baldrige-based self assessment. We were using the full Criteria (and I'm not saying we go back to that), but the group brought together for the self-assessment was from all levels of the organization and included petty officers and members of the Chief's Mess and the Ward Room. Open discussion. And a learning by all.

I've participated in other cross-functional assessments, and every time it has worked well. Now, this isn't to say it's appropriate every time. If a unit's senior leadership has no understanding of the Criteria, I'm not sure I'd go with a cross-functional group; I'd stay with the senior leaders.

Second thought: do cascading collaborative assessments. This would take more time, but do faciliated assessments at all levels of the organization. First for the unit, then with divisions, and then, maybe with branches.

The follow-up would be the deployment of cascading 2-4-7 throughout the organization.

Your thoughts? Post here, or drop me a line.

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