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Wednesday , January 24 , 2018

(Steps toward a Baldrige score of 300).

© Paul Arveson 1998

Performance Graph

The above figure shows a hypothetical record of efforts by a mediocre 'baseline' Government agency to achieve a score of 300 on the Baldrige-based Inspector General's Assessment that will be conducted in the year 2001. This is a goal that probably can be achieved, at least in some parts of the organization, by that time. It represents the "early stages of a systematic approach" and "deployment in at least half of the major functions in the organization". This level of deployment is expected to begin to show a few positive trends in the most important strategic outcome metrics such as customer satisfaction and business results.

The figure also illustrates in generic terms the basic features of a measurement-based management system:

  • definition of a quantitative metric ("Score");
  • a target value
  • a target date;
  • a periodic measurement cycle.

The measurement system tracks the metric at recurring intervals to identify the trend over time, and it displays the data to managers to permit them to assess the progress toward success. (In addition there may be some estimate of the degree of statistical variability in measurements that should be considered insignificant, such as error bars.) The use of quantitative data may permit measurements to be compared across business units, as well as across time.

In terms of the Government Performance and Results Act , the main deficiency in most 'baseline' agencies is a lack of data. We do not have any systematic way to collect or record measurements of indicators to allow managers to make faster and better decisions, to identify processes in need of improvement, to identify best practices and expand them, or to assess the level of deployment of strategic actions. We need to collect appropriate kinds of data to measure performance and results relative to the strategic plan. If the data are aggregated and appropriately weighted, they can be used to prepare an estimate of the Baldrige score prior to the actual Inspector General's assessment. This will allow managers to identify deficiencies in advance, and focus improvement efforts on those deficiencies.

This discussion does not deal with specific strategic activities other than the overall strategic measurement system itself. It is based on the premise that "you can't improve what you can't measure", and that business process improvements are a key to future success of the strategic plan -- indeed, the whole purpose of making measurements is to improve various aspects of the organization's activities.

The following seven steps are suggested in order to achive "Baldrige 300":

1. The whole theory of performance measurement and assessment needs to be explained, justified and adapted to the mission, values and culture of the organization in order to achieve sufficient buy-in for success.

2. We need to link the strategic plan with a measurement system. This requires the general strategic themes to be translated into strategic action project plans, with assigned leadership, teams, budgets, schedules, goals and targets. We can then monitor the level of deployment and resulting outcomes of any strategic action. The measurements will provide feedback to managers to aid in aligning their efforts to the strategic plan.

3. The Balanced Scorecard has been selected by many Government agencies as an appropriate general structure for a strategic measurement and management system. It requires measurements in diverse perspectives, such as learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial results.

4. In order to make the measurements, metrics and targets need to be defined. These metrics are basically of two types: specific measures of effectiveness of each mission, and generic measures of efficiency and effectiveness of common support processes. Defining metrics is a difficult and labor-intensive task to be done by managers in each mission functional unit, but once they are defined, this step is done.

5. In order to collect the data on these metrics, a data collection process must be defined. Collecting the data will be labor-intensive, but it can be facilitated by use of existing administative personnel, e.g. financial assistants and secretaries. Data collection should begin prior to business process improvement efforts, in order to provide baseline data for comparisons across time.

6. The agency's intranet, in conjunction with a database system, will facilitate data collection and reporting. (This assumes that the Intranet is deployed and employees are familiar with its usage prior to deployment of the performance measurement data collection process). Aggregated data will be analyzed and displayed in appropriate ways for feedback, and assessment relative to targets. The generic measurements can also be used to benchmark different mission units or agencies against each other to identify best practices and areas to focus improvement efforts.

7. The ultimate goal is to provide an integrated, highly visible, continuously-operating strategically-aligned performance-based management system that is deployed throughout the entire agency.