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Monday, June 9, 2014

Five Guidelines For Effectively Using Excellence Award Programs To Your Benefit

ASQ has introduced their new CEO, Bill Troy, who will continue to blog like Paul Borawski. In Bill’s first post he announced that ASQ has been awarded the Excellence level of achievement for the 2014 Wisconsin Forward Award. The Wisconsin Forward Award is essentially the state-level equivalent of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the U.S. Bill has asked the ASQ’s influential voices about their experience with excellence award programs like these.

I think we can all agree that an excellence award for the sake of an award is not beneficial. However, many organizations around the world are turning to excellence award programs for more than just the recognition such programs offered. Companies realize that the awards also offer models and tools for implementing a quality strategy, benchmarking best practices, performing self-assessments and, ultimately, achieving improvements.

Many organizations are effectively using excellence award programs to advance their journey to attain quality leadership. Here are some guidelines for effectively using excellence award programs:

1. Do it to drive excellence, not to win the award.
Many organizations have gotten off track by making the award the ultimate goal. This can result in gaming the system to look better than you actually are. In the meantime, the organizations lose sight of their true purpose of providing value adding products and services to customers.

2. Use a long term focus.
Once and done is almost always a wasted effort. It is not enough to reach award winning levels of quality leadership. The real goal is to sustain quality leadership performance. Most excellence award winning organizations will self-assess and apply multiple times over several years. They recognize that achieving and sustaining quality leadership is a journey.

3. Use the feedback.
It is always amazing when an organization goes all the way through the process of compiling and submitting an application and then ignores the feedback they receive from the evaluation process. This is the gold nugget. This can be some of the best advice an organization will ever receive from a team of industry leading experts. Smart organizations use this feedback as a major component of strategic and business planning to identify areas of focus.

4. Focus on process.
The results will follow. Most quality award criteria seek information related to business processes and business results. The key to success is to understand how processes drive results and focus on improving the processes so better results can be attained.

5. Develop internal expertise.
The awards cycle will provide valuable feedback to the organization, but it can take a long time to get the information. Organizations which develop internal expertise can strengthen their own assessment processes. This enables the organization to get regular and timely information for improving processes and performance

Excellence awards are not indicators of previous or future performance. They are a one-time snap shot. If your organization is seeking quality improvement, then an excellence award can play a significant part in helping you along the journey. Excellence awards provide a great source for monitoring progress and identifying opportunities for improvement.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

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