Support for the Baldrige Framework

I was an early advocate for the Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence.   The criteria introduced in 1987 and the first Award was issued in 1988.

Successful application of the criteria has shown that it produces significant, quantifiable, and measured return on investment.  “Those returns are measured in greater efficiency, less waste, more jobs created, increased customer and employee satisfaction, and economic growth. Studies in health care and education have demonstrated that Baldrige-based organizations significantly outperform their non-Baldrige peer organizations in virtually all critical measurements.”

A system determines the majority of results and Baldrige represents a systems approach to improvement.

1990.  Xerox was a Baldrige winner in 1989 and was invited to my agency – the U.S. Army Finance and Accounting Center (USAFAC) to educate us on the criteria.  The intent of the invite was to generate ideas to support our Total Quality Mangement (TQM) initiative.

  • The U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command adopted the criteria to support continuous improvement in installation management. Army installations are the equivalent of small towns.  The program is referred to as the Army Communities of Excellence.

The American Society for Quality provides administrative support for the program. I became an ASQ member in 1991, joined the Public Sector Network (PSN) and served as a regional counselor.  PSN became the Government Division and the Division supported the development of criteria for the Nonprofit (government) category.

1991-1999.   I served in USAFACs/DFAS TQM Office. My instructor notes for the agency’s TQM related courses provided the foundation for my book – Success Through Quality: Support Guide for the Journey to Continuous Improvement that was published by ASQ in 1999 that includes reference to the Baldrige criteria (pg. 64).

  • The first book review – Government Executive Magazine: “DoD accountant offers quality guide.”“It should come as little surprise that such a clear voice on quality calls out from the federal bureaucracy. Clark follows in the steps of W. Edwards Deming, the world-renowned quality theorist who helped the Japanese become a world-class industrial power in the second half of this century. Deming began his career as a physicist at the Agriculture Department.”

2001/2002.  USAFAC was reorganized and consolidated into the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in 1991. The agency chose to test an independent Baldrige assessment of current operations at one of the best performing locations.  The assessment scored under 250 points out of a 1,000 which is typical for a traditionally managed organization. The feedback from the assessment was highly valued by the site director but the agency director determined the agency was not ready to embrace the framework.

2011-2016.  As a guest columnist for FedSmith.com, I wrote several articles that supported the application of the Baldrige framework.  My last column on the topic was referenced in a Blogrige Post titled:  Would the Founding Fathers Have Embraced Baldrige?

2014-Present. I continue to promote the application of the criteria at the community level.

 

 

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Quality Defined in Context

In simple yet profound terms, variation represents the difference between an ideal and an actual situation.

An ideal represents a standard of perfection—the highest standard of excellence[1]—that is uniquely defined by stakeholders, including direct customers, internal customers, suppliers, society and shareholders.

Excellence is synonymous with quality, and excellent quality results from doing the right things, in the right way.

The fact that we can strive for an ideal but never achieve it means that stakeholders always experience some variation from the perfect situations they envision. This, however, also makes improvement and progress possible. Reducing the variation stakeholders experience is the key to quality and continuous improvement.

References

An ASQ LinkedIn discussion on the topic of the definition of quality

ASQ Glossary – Law of Variation — 2005 – 2018~.  Identifies the interrelationship between variation, perfection, quality, and excellence. What is the Law of Variation_ Managing Variation _ ASQ

ASQ Glossary Law of Variation – Updated  2018~ NEW What is Variation

Misc Articles and Notes

Guest Column: Indpls Star – Faith and values section

October 7, 2018.  Sunday Edition Indianapolis Star – Faith and values:  Guest Column: “People working together can make a more perfect union”

PDF Version Indianapolis_Star_20181007_A008_2 More Perfect Union

People working together can make a more perfect union

Your Turn

Tim J. Clark Guest columnist

Addressing the spiritual, economic and social challenges of our times may be as simple as recognizing that, although we may share a common desire for improvement, we have different ideas on the changes that need to be made to bring about that improvement.

But how do you determine when a change results in an improvement?

Faith-inspired philosophies, such as Christianity, can help answer this question. These philosophies acknowledge that human beings will always be imperfect but can improve by leveraging the potential of the human spirit. Changes motivated by love, compassion and the application of better methods can result in outcomes where everyone can benefit or at least not be any worse off in the long-term.

Philosophies that also align with the aim of the U.S. Constitution can provide a frame of reference for determining when a change results in an improvement. The aim of the American system of government is to enable “We the People” to work together to make progress – not toward a “perfect” union, which would be impossible – but rather toward a “more perfect” union.

The Founding Fathers of the United States provided us with the Bill of Rights, so that we may work toward a more perfect or better union. What the founders left up to future generations was to develop and apply better methods for determining when a change results in an improvement.

Walter Shewhart discovered one of those methods – the variation principle – in 1924. This principle is rooted in the fact that actions are accomplished through a process and everything involved in a process or system varies, including people. The type of variation (common cause or special cause) in a process or system helps identify the type of action needed to improve it. Continuous improvement by reducing variation results in better quality and less imperfection.

W. Edwards Deming, a student and colleague of Shewhart, developed methods that support the application of Shewhart’s variation principle to improve the quality of products and services. Deming’s contributions were recognized by Fortune magazine as being among the 20 that have shaped the modern world of business and by U.S. News and World Report as one of nine turning points in history.

The top turning point was identified as “The Apostle Paul, whose preaching and eloquent writings led to mass acceptance of Christianity.”

Deming once said that if he was to reduce his message to just a few words, it all had to do with individuals working together to make things more perfect by reducing variation.

I had the opportunity to attend a four-day seminar conducted by Deming in the late 1980s. Since then, I’ve successfully applied his methods to many areas of my life, including personal, family, community and career. For example, I had the opportunity to apply them while supporting the development of military and national defense related strategies. In 1986, Deming, estimated that it would take another 50 years before awareness of Shewhart’s contributions were more commonly known.

I hope that in some small way I have at least raised awareness of a new method that can be applied to leverage the potential of the human spirit that supports progress toward a more perfect community and union.

Tim J. Clark is a senior member of the American Society for Quality, past chairman of the Indianapolis Section and an exponent of an improved standard for quality leadership that supplements faith-based philosophies with the scientific method.

Global Leadership – Cold War 2.0?

All of our bets on China have been wrong  Asia Times, DECEMBER 21, 2018 4:06 PM (UTC+8)

…  today’s Cold War 2.0 is typified by what author James Mann calls the West’s “China fantasy,” a notion encapsulated by former US president George W Bush’s remark: “Trade freely with China, and time is on our side.”

But in a broader sense, China has not conformed to the expected Western script. In spite of integrating itself into the global economy under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Beijing has not internalized liberal rule-based norms implicit in these organizations.

In fact, under President Xi, the Communist Party’s political strength and “purity” have become an end in itself, to which economic reforms have become subordinate (“purity” being a term with strong Leninist connotations).

“China is co-opting institutions such as the UN and the WTO to make them safe for authoritarianism, state-backed capitalism and other threats to a rules-based order.”

Looking Back on the Last 40 Years of Reforms in China, Ray Dalio, Jan 3, 2019.

  • This is not your father’s communism. It is “socialism with Chinese characteristics” that has been significantly and very effectively reformed, which has made it much more vital, creative, and economically free.
  • …on the path to being the most powerful one.  I believe that excellent performance was largely the result of China’s powerful culture and its reforms.
  • … Most fundamentally, the US is a country in which individuals, individualism, and individual property rights are perceived to be of paramount importance it is directed from the bottom up
  • Chinese leadership seeks to run the country the way they believe a good family should be run, from the top down, maintaining high standards of behavior, putting the collective interest ahead of any individual interest, with each member knowing their place and having filial respect for those in the hierarchy so the system works in an orderly way.
  • I’m not saying which system is better. Each culture/system has its pros and cons that I’m not going to get into now.
  •  … we would do well to learn from each other, cooperate and compete to bring each other up rather than to tear each other down, and 7) China is a place we need to continue to evolve with and invest in.

Brown County Democrat Newspaper – Guest Columns, Opinions, Letters

GUEST OPINION July 25, 2018. Tim J. Clark. Maple Leaf: Will more money be a recurring theme?  This project was sold as “too good to fail.” Let’s hope that’s true. The public and voters will determine if the decisions and process used to fast-track this project are in the best interests of all county citizens. 

LETTER: June 12, 2018. New Courthouse ProposalLetter: Consider other ways for projects to proceed

LETTER:  May 2, 2018.   Stop digging’ on Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center.  There is wisdom in the metaphor that states that if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

LETTER: Mar 28, 2018.  Letter to the Editor:  Limit the scope of the proposed septic ordinance.  I participated in the public meetings last year on the proposed septic ordinance. Despite the concerns and recommendations identified at the meetings provided by a diversity of stakeholders, there have been no significant changes to narrow the scope of the proposed ordinance.

GUEST OPINION: Jan 23, 2018.  Working toward ‘a more perfect union’ By Tim Clark, a guest columnist. ”As individuals, we may not have too much direct influence over what happens politically at the national level of government. At the county level, our efforts can certainly be directed to local issues. We can choose to determine the quality of government that we want and need.

In my first guest column on this topic, “The role of process in county’s future,” I identified that the process used to fast-track the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) might represent a turning point for the future of the county.

In the follow-up column, “Coming together is a beginning,” I identified possible outcomes from the fast-track process regarding scenarios that included “status quo plus,” “transformative” and “collaborative planning.”

The feedback I received on the columns suggested additional scenarios that included identifying the best case and a worse case. Best case is that MLPAC exceeds all expectations. A worse case is that the venue does not meet expectations, requiring a decision as to the disposition of an underperforming venue.

Best case is that MLPAC exceeds all expectations. A worse case is that the venue does not meet expectations, requiring a decision as to the disposition of an underperforming venue.

 

GUEST OPINION: Jan 11, 2018GUEST OPINION: ‘Coming together is a beginning’ By TIM CLARK, guest columnist. In the first part of my series, “The role of process in county’s future,” I suggested that the process applied to fast-track approval of the $12.5 million investment in the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) might represent a turning point for the future of the ...

  1. .Status quo plus. The additional increase in year-round tourism from Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills (destination distillery) and the MLPAC are added to the tourism portfolio with some noticeable impacts on the culture of the county. This will include more events to promote entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism and additional traffic congestion. An increase in revenue from income and property taxes, the primary source of revenue for the county, might offset the increase in county infrastructure-related costs.
  2. Transformative. The expectations for the MLPAC were identified as leading to an increase in year-round tourism that would result in an economic turnaround, more jobs, hotel(s) and restaurants. These changes could possibly include the transition of Snyder Farm as an extension of Salt Creek Plaza. The requirement to fill a 2,000-seat venue will likely lead to offering any entertainment option and attracting any demographic that will sell tickets and attract visitors. Shops in Nashville could transition to bars or other dining and entertainment options that will encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more money. Other areas along the State Road 46 corridor could transition to tourist-related businesses. A casino might fit into this scenario. Entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism becomes a major part of the Brown County “brand.” The cumulative effect of the changes may lead to Brown County being considered a nice place to visit but not to live.
  3. Collaborative planning. Community conversations can help identify the best acceptable alternatives for tourism, community and economic development options. To quote Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Conversations can lead to strategies, strategies to plans, and good plans lead to results where everyone benefits — or at least accepts that a given initiative is beneficial overall. The collaborative approach can lead to the county being recognized as a “community of excellence,” which attracts more residents, businesses and families. An increase in families helps mitigate the decline in school enrollments and prevents school closures and consolidations.

GUEST OPINION: Dec 27, 2017. GUEST OPINION: The role of process in the future of Brown County. The Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) project and the process used to fast-track approval may represent a turning point for the future of the county.  

GUEST COLUMN: Sep 20, 2017.  Guest Column: A study of tourism and economic sustainability.  By Tim Clark, “However, tourism, by itself, has not and cannot provide a sustainable economic future for Brown County. Further, too much tourism can have …”

Note: The proponents of the Maple Leaf project claimed that Maple Leaf “….  could be what it takes to turn things around economically for Brown County.”  This article was written to offer another perspective.  The county is funded primarily by income and property tax.  

GUEST OPINION: August 29, 2017.  Guest Opinion: Maple Leaf: What are the other options?  By Tim Clark guest columnistThe Maple Leaf in a different location (Gnaw Bone? Bean Blossom? Ski World?) could be an “anchor” facility that could support further …”

LETTER: August 22, 2017.  Letter: ‘Zoning for Maple Leaf: Not in the plan’ – Brown County Democrat, Tim Clark  “Although the proposed Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center has not been formally approved by the commissioners …”  

LETTER: Aug 8, 2017. Letter: Maple Leaf proposal: Let’s not fail to plan By Tim Clark. For those where planning may be an abhorrent concept, Benjamin Franklin is credited with the axiom that: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Repeal the Second Amendment?

 

Following is a summary of a discussion on LinkedIn discussing the NYT Op-ed submitted by retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens: John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment , March 27, 2018.

Does the discussion reinforce the need for a new approach to help resolve controversial issues?

The debate focuses on the “meaning” and interpretation of the second amendment from a legal perspective.  A different approach is looking at the issue not from an original meaning but from the original intent.

The aim of the design of the U.S. political system was to form “a more perfect” union (original intent). Working towards this aim from a Deming perspective would equate to taking action that results in a situation where everyone gains, or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.

The challenge becomes to identify the feedback people need to assess if a change makes things better or worse.  Deming suggests looking at things from four perspectives: Psychology (motivation), Systems (action) Variation (feedback), and Knowledge (learning).

Psychology is the study of human behavior and what motivated it.  For many, guns in America are an integral part of our history, culture, identity, strength, sense of security, and freedom. Guns are also a symbol.  Many of the comments on the post reflect this perspective.

There is also the philosophic perspective regarding the nature of man – all humans have the capability of being good and evil which reinforces an individual’s desire for self-defense and self-reliance.   And further, some have more confidence in government’s ability to protect them than do others.  For many, the 2nd amendment is an insurance policy – you may never need it, but nice to have – just in case.

A System includes laws and interpretation of the laws.  I can’t add much to the current debate on the 2nd amendment.  I think both sides have goods arguments. Unfortunately, the debate will be never ending depending on who has the most votes at the time. Conservative will vote one way and liberals the other, e.g., zero-sum that indicates a stable (predictable) system.

Variation is the gap between the ideal situation (more perfect) and actual. From an “originalist” position, repealing the 2nd Amendment is tampering – which makes things worse.  From a “living document” perspective, repeal is an improvement.

The variation principle also provides a new standard that can be applied for assessing the efficacy of gun control laws.  It also provides a new perspective on looking at all the factors that contribute to unnatural deaths from crime, accidents, disease, addictions, war, et.al.  What are the trends?  What are the priorities for improvement? What is working? What is not?

Knowledge. What are we learning?   The responses to the post identify individual views and passion on the topic.  In regard to repeal, whoever has the most votes will “win.”  Even if the votes are there to repeal, many will not accept any ruling that conflicts with their belief that they have right to keep and bear arms.  The U.S. is not Australia where the population volunteered to turn in their guns.

A way-ahead?   Start with the variation principle. Get agreement on the methodology and data e.g., the facts regarding deaths due to the misuse of guns. To provide context, I would also include comparisons with other deaths by other causes. Any successful long-term solution will need to acknowledge and address the cultural aspects (psychology) that are an inherent part of the 2nd  amendment.

Assess your knowledge of the variation principle.

More Info:

Other

Who Needs a Gun? by Gary Gutting, NYT, The Stone