WHAT SHOULD DO THE ASSESSMENT
One of the first problems a company faces as it is establishing an assessment process is how to get buy-in from the business units, divisions, or departments it wants assessed. Graniterock's executive committee reviews and approves the company's annual Baldrige application and uses it to gauge companywide improvement.
Benefits of senior management involvement:
Kodak created a matrix and abbreviated report processes so that the executives could assess their unit in less time than a full application requires. AT&T, which encouraged its business units and divisions to par-ticipate, used to require full Baidrige applications. in 1992, 32 of slightly more than 50 eligible units applied for the AT&T Chairman's Quality Award.
What these and other companies have learned is that senior manage-ment involvement in the assessment process results in three majör benefits:
- it establishes the system assessment process as the unit for or the company's primary tool for continuous improvement.
- it creates an annual learning and improvement cycle, beginning with feedback to the assessment, that includes planning, execution, and evaluation.
- it improves senior executives' ability to understand and improve the system they oversee.
- The degree to which these benefits are realized relates directly to the degree to which senior executives are involved in the assessment process.
- Those who take the time to learn what the criteria are asking and what their company or unit is doing become "systems thinkers," able to identify the elements in their system and to see how those elements work together to achieve the company's goals.
- This holistic perspective is available to all who work on the assessment process, whether they are executives or employees to whom the assessment has been delegated, but the organization gains most by executive involvement because executives have the greatest control över the system.
- Leaders who resist getting actively involved seem to believe that participating in the assessment process is not a good use of their time.
- The experience of our quality role models suggests they are wrong.