People Innovation Excellence

The Power of Baldrige Excellence Criteria



ADLI (Approach, Deployment, Learning, and Integration):

There is no better tool for fast, profound improvement in organizational performance than a commitment to Baldrige Performance Excellence. Why? Four reasons: Approach, Deployment, Learning, and Integration, “ADLI” in Baldrige taxonomy. ADLI is the “architecture” that transforms Baldrige Performance Excellence from a set of neat ideas into a powerful tool for continuous improvement. Let’s see what this means in practice.

In key performance areas, referred to as Categories, upon which the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework is based. These Categories set the aim for the organization (Leadership, Strategic Planning, and Customer Focus), and achieve the aim through excellent performance in (Measurement, Analysis & Knowledge Management, Workforce Focus, and Operational Focus). The quality of Category 7, Results, depends on the level of performance excellence in each of the other six Categories.

This is where the architecture of ADLI fits in. Baldrige Performance Excellence demands that each of the four elements of ADLI are addressed. Baldrige Examiners, in assessing the current level of performance in each Category, will look for evidence that an organization has well designed systems and processes (Approach), that are deployed consistently across the organization (Deployment), with built-in learning at all levels (Learning), that are connected logically with each other (Integration). In a nutshell, ADLI forces a holistic look at your most important activities.

Two pillars of this architecture have been part of Baldrige Excellence from the beginning (1988): Approach and Deployment. These elements are really two sides of the same coin; it is obvious that systems and processes must be designed well and implemented effectively to achieve results. For the first fifteen years of the Baldrige Program, Examiners focused their efforts on assessing the Approach and Deployment within each Category.

Several years ago, Learning and Integration came into the mix as the next two pillars. Examiners were instructed to deepen the assessment process to include looking for evidence of individual and organizational Learning, and Integration among the activities in different Categories. This was a big step, because for the first time, Baldrige Performance Excellence began to formally assess these two engines of innovation. And it is that focus on innovation that led the leadership of the Japan Quality Award to reengineer their program to align with the Baldrige Criteria.

Now we understand that Learning and Integration are important if we are to unleash the full power of Baldrige Performance Excellence. How do we begin to make them a regular part of “how we do things in our organization?”

For Learning, the critical first step is to understand that learning does not happen spontaneously, but requires a theory and process to implement. If experience alone “taught” us how to perform, who would be anything but excellent? Unfortunately, with a tip of the hat to the great quality leader W. Edwards Deming, experience teaches us nothing. What we need is a will and process to learn. For high performing Baldrige-class organizations, this means a rigorous focus on collecting and analyzing data, assessing results and implications, and sharing this information in a way that promotes learning. Individuals are the learners of course, but they are enabled by working in an organization that has the discipline to ensure that learning is documented and shared in a way that makes a difference.

Integration is the degree to which activities in each Category fit together. For example, how will the planned consolidation in the IT department impact workforce planning and employee recruitment, selection, and training? How will these actions impact the budget process? How will leadership measure and assess results? How will customers be impacted by new IT service levels? The point is, for each
organization there will be essential connections between activities; Baldrige Performance Excellence requires that these connections be understood, analyzed, and improved over time.

By this, I hope we have covered the basics around the ADLI architecture that supports the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework. Next time, one should be able to present case studies of how a commitment to ADLI will raise the performance bar in an organizations.

Bachtiar H. Simamora

Published at : Updated
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