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Telling Your Story Effectively – The Top 10 Things to Remember When Writing Your Application

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Telling Your Story Effectively – The Top 10 Things to Remember When Writing Your Application

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  1. Telling Your Story Effectively –The Top 10 Things to Remember When Writing Your Application June 24, 2013 Joe Muzikowski joe.muzikowski@gmail.com

  2. On Creating an Exceptional Organization • “I see the Baldrige process as a powerful set of mechanisms for disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action to create great organizations that produce exceptional results.” “I see the Baldrige process as a powerful set of mechanisms for disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action to create great organizations that produce exceptional results.” Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

  3. The Assessment Cycle • Develop an application that accurately depicts your organization’s current state (and get “aha’s” by doing so) 2) Evaluate the application (by a team of Quality Texas Examiners) 3) Get an informative Feedback Report A well-written application results in an informative feedback report 4) Use your feedback for improvement!

  4. The Quality Texas / Baldrige Framework Organizational Profile: Environment, Relationships, and Challenges 2 - Strategic Planning 5 - Workforce Focus 7 - Results 1 - Leadership 3 - Customer Focus 6 – Operations Focus 4 - Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management

  5. Understand the Criteria 1 What is important to us? Organizational Profile Who are we? What do we do? Who are our customers? What are our challenges? Who are our competitors? How do we improve? How do we lead and manage? Categories 1-6 1 - Leadership 2 - Planning 3 - Customer Focus 4 - Knowledge Management 5 - Workforce Focus 6 – Operations Focus How are we doing? Category 7 1 – Products & Processes 2 – Customers 3 – Workforce 4 – Leadership & Governance 5 – Financial PROCESSES Are we doing things the right way? RESULTS Are we getting the benefit of our efforts?

  6. The Three-Step Process for Producing an Excellent Application Step 1:Read the Criteria question Step 2: Answer the Criteria question Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until you’ve answered all of the questions Any questions?

  7. “How” and “What” Understanding the Difference; How to Respond to Each Type of Question

  8. “How” and “What” The Criteria are a series of two types of questions: 1. “How” questions ask for descriptions of systematic approaches Asked in Categories 1 – 6 (the “process Categories”) 2. “What” questions ask for specific information: All questions in the Organizational Profile (OP) In Categories 1 to 6: 1.2b(1); 1.2b(2); 1.2c(2); 2.1a(1); 2.1a(4); 2.1b(1); 2.2a(1); 2.2a(4); 2.2a(5); 2.2b; 3.2a(2); 4.1a(1); 4.1b; 5.1b(1); 5.1b(2); 5.2b(1); 6.1a(2); 6.1b(1); 6.1b(2) All questions on performance results in Category 7

  9. “How” Questions “How” questions are looking for detailed descriptions of the processes you use. Respond with either: A narrative A graphic A flowchart, or A combination of these Example: 3.2.b(2) - “How do you manage customer complaints?” Examiners will be looking for a description of the approach (process) you use to gather and manage complaints

  10. “What” Questions “What” questions are looking for specific information, without many supporting details. Respond with either: A bullet point list, A table, or A graphic or figure Example: 2.1b(1) - “What are your organization’s key strategic objectives and your timetable for achieving them?” Examiners will be looking for a list or table of the specific objectives with defined timeframes for completing them

  11. A Common Applicant Mistake • Providing “what” responses (lists, tables, etc.) to “how” questions (which ask for demonstration of systematic* processes) * Systematic approaches are: • Well-defined • Repeatable • Use data and information to inform learning and drive improvement

  12. The OP: The Rosetta Stone 2 Understand How Key Factors Relate to the Criteria Questions

  13. Develop Your Organizational Profile (OP) What is it? • A 5-page description of your organization • Required for applications at all levels Why is it important? • The OP allows examiners to apply the generic Quality Texas criteria to the unique facts and characteristics of your organization in their review of your application, which makes your feedback more useful • Many of your feedback comments will reference facts you mentioned in the Organizational Profile So, make development of the OP your first priority

  14. Organizational Environment Product offerings Vision and mission Core competencies Workforce profile Assets Regulatory requirements Organizational Relationships Organizational structure Customers and stakeholders Suppliers and partners Competitive Environment Competitive position Competitiveness changes Comparative data Strategic Context Strategic challenges and advantages Performance Improvement System P.1 Organizational Description P.2 Organizational Situation The Organizational Profile (OP)

  15. How Examiners Use the Organizational Profile (OP) • They develop a short, bullet point list of “Key Factors” • Identify 4-6 Key Factors that pertain to the Criteria questions for each Item • Develop their observations, comments and scoring based on the application’s response to the questions, using the Key Factors as a filter to ensure significance and relevance of their comments and accuracy of their scoring • Example: What Key Factors (identified in the OP or elsewhere) could be relevant for Item 1.1? • Senior leaders (who they are) – P.1b(1) (also in org chart) • Vision and values – P.1a(2) • Workforce profile (numbers, types, locations) – P.1a(3) • Customers - P.1b(2) • Suppliers and partners – P.1b(3)

  16. Map Your Key Factors to Criteria Questions What is your workforce profile? [P.1a(3)] How do you determine the key elements that affect workforce engagement? How do you determine these elements for different workforce groups and segments? [5.2a(1)] What are your current levels and trends in key measures…of workforce engagement and workforce satisfaction? [7.3a(3)] Applicant Response Staff Satisfaction and Engagement Results, Figures 7.3-6a and 7.3-6b (with segmentation matching that shown in the OP) Applicant Response Applicant Response Text on p. xix and Figure P.1-4 Staff Satisfaction Survey, segmented by groups shown in the OP Staff Results against the Key Performance Dimensions that define engagement, Figures 7.3-2a and 7.3-2b Employer of ChoiceEngagement Dimensions Senior Leader Breakfast Meetings (informal reinforcement)

  17. Write for Your Audience 3 • Consider non-sector examiners • Don’t confuse them with sector or organizational jargon • Remember the importance of the glossary • Use an active voice • Be specific as to who does what • Maintain consistency • Use a style guide for consistent “look and feel”

  18. The Importance of the Glossary It’s a list of acronyms and definitions Industry-specific Organization-specific It explains to outsiders the arcane details of your organization and your industry It doesn’t count against the page limitation for the OP or the body of the application Use as “free space” to explain things that otherwise would take up space in the application NOTE: Begin gathering and defining all glossary items early on

  19. The Style Guide Develop it early on in the writing process Helps ensure consistency across the application Avoid the passive voice Typical things to decide: Will you be writing in the 1st or 3rd person? Using proper names in reference to people, just titles, or both? How common words and terms will be used Acronym definitions and use “System” or “system”? “Figure” or “figure”?

  20. The Cardinal Rule of Application Writing

  21. Four Possible Types of Feedback Useful Feedback Useless Feedback Not accurate, understandable or actionable (because we didn’t explain our story accurately or effectively) Accurate, understandable and actionable (and we need to work on this) Accurate, understandable and actionable (but we don’t have resources to work on this at this time) Not accurate, understandable or actionable (because the Examiners missed the point of our story)

  22. How to Get Useful Feedback Do: Understand what the Criteria ask for Understand the evaluation factors Be truthful Be accurate Be as detailed as possible (within the page limitation) Tell your story with pride Keep in mind you’re writing a story with 7 chapters Don’t: Forget the importance of the Organizational Profile Stray far from the Criteria questions Embellish or exaggerate Forget you’re also writing for non-sector people Write “empty” prose to fill up space Forget linkages Write 7 short stories

  23. Think Like an Examiner 4 • Remember the evaluation factors: ADLI / LeTCI • Understand how examiners identify your Strengths and OFIs • Understand criteria key words • Refer to the glossary in the criteria • Understand how Key Factors are used • Understand how scoring reflects your level of maturity and achievement • Scoring language may be incorporated in your feedback comments

  24. Process Evaluation Factors  A-D-L-I Approach– The method used to address the Criteria requirements: How do you do it? What are the steps in your process? How repeatable is it? Deployment– The extent to which the process is used consistently in all appropriate work units Learning– How the organization systematically evaluates and improves its processes; how the organization learns Integration– How the individual approaches of the system operate as a fully interconnected unit

  25. Approach: What the Criteria Ask For Is there a process? (Notan anecdote) Is it appropriate to the Item requirements? Is it systematic (i.e., repeatable, managed using data)? NOTE: A process can be informal, but may still be systematic Does it appear to be effective? Is the approach a key organizational process (i.e., important to your overall performance)?

  26. Levels– Numerical data that place an organization’s performance on a meaningful measurement scale Trends– Numerical data that show the direction and rate of improvements Comparisons– Numerical data that show the relationship of an organization’s performance relative to others (or the performance of units within an organization to one another) Integration– Connections to important customer, product/service, process, or action plan performance requirements …and Segmentationas appropriate Results Evaluation Factors  Le-T-C-I

  27. A Few Words on Segmentation Segmentscan be defined by, among other things: Product, service or business line Location Population group (DRG, age, cohort, etc.) Workforce group (nurses, admin, hourly, etc.) Size of the group in question Note where segments are asked for in the OP: P.1a(1) – Product offerings P.1a(3) – Workforce profile P.1a(4) – Assets (facilities) P.1b(2) – Customers and stakeholders P.1b(3) – Suppliers and partners Note that youdefine these; the examiners will be using the information you provided in the Organizational Profile to evaluate your results

  28. Why Scores Matter • Scores provide feedback to you about the relative maturity of your processes and results • The same scoring grid and guidelines are used for all four Quality Texas application levels • Scores help Examiners “calibrate” the comment balance 8.5 9.0 9.0 8.5 8.5

  29. The Scoring Grid for Process Items

  30. Results: A Mere 45% of the Score 5

  31. Results: Every Picture Tells a Story Results may be presented in: Graphic format Tabular format Text A combination of the above “Our financial performance has demonstrated continued improvement over the past three years…”

  32. Results: Linkages to Categories 1 - 6 Are results provided for all key measures presented in the OP and Process Categories? Note linkages to: 1.2b(1) – “What are your key compliance…measures and goals…for meeting and surpassing regulatory requirements…?” 1.2b(2) – “What are your key…measures…for…monitoring ethical behavior…?” 2.1b(1) – “What are your key strategic objectives…”? 2.2a(1) – “What are your key short- and longer term action plans…”? 2.2a(4) – “What are your key workforce plans…”? 2.2a(5) – “What key performance measures do you use…to track the achievement and effectiveness of your action plans? 4.1a(1) – “What are your key organizational performance measures…?” 5.1b(1) – “What are your…measures for (workplace health, safety and security)…?” 6.1b(1) – “What key performance measures…do you use for to control and improve your work processes?”

  33. Important Points for Results • Be sure all graphs are meaningful and relevant • Don’t show high-performing “fluff” • Show all of your important measures, even if they’re not performing as expected • Explain the reasons for unfavorable performance • Explain the steps you’ve taken to improve • Ensure that all the appropriate results are presented, including those asked for in categories 1 - 6 in the criteria • Examiners will cross-check your application for “missing measures” – a common OFI

  34. Linking Results and Processes

  35. Common Mistakes in Presenting Results • Presenting data and information in a format that’s hard to understand and interpret • Only showing comparisons of actual performance to your plan, goals or targets • Using relevant but sub-optimal comparisons (e.g., industry average) if a more stringent one is available • Reporting results with insufficient data points to indicate a positive trend or consistent high levels of performance • Reporting results for some but not all areas of importance identified in the OP and in the process Categories

  36. Checklist for Results Presentation • Do results link to something important to your organization? • Can an outsider easily understand the graphs? • Is there an arrow to show the direction of “goodness”? • Are there gaps in what you’ve presented? • If so, have you explained any unfavorable results and what corrective actions you’ve taken ? • Are trends apparent? (3 or more data points) • Do most graphs and tables include a relevant comparison? • Are the results segmented by customer group, employee group, location, product line, etc. that you defined in the OP? • Does any accompanying text expand on (not repeat) what’s in the graph?

  37. VACSP’s Results Note the clear, short explanations below the graphs, which complement the graphs’ content. VA Cooperative Studies Program, a 2009 Baldrige Recipient

  38. Coral Springs’ Crime Rate City of Coral Springs, a 2007 Baldrige Recipient

  39. Southcentral Foundation’s Action Plan Completion 7.4b: “What are your results for… achievement of your action plans…?” This is an effective use of “stoplight” colors to indicate performance Southcentral Foundation, a 2011 Baldrige Recipient

  40. Lockheed Martin MFC’s Sales Growth This graphic demonstrates how to show relative comparative performance Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control, a 2012 Baldrige Recipient

  41. Lockheed Martin MFC’s Safety Results Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control, a 2012 Baldrige Recipient

  42. North Mississippi’s Stroke Results North Mississippi Health Services, a 2012 Baldrige Recipient

  43. Freese and Nichols Employee Satisfaction Note the segmentation by: 1) employee tenure and 2) factors of importance for the organization Freese and Nichols, a 2010 Baldrige Recipient

  44. AtlantiCare’s Governance Results AtlantiCare, a 2009 Baldrige Recipient

  45. PVHS’s Turnover Rate Note how initiatives are shown by year, implying cause-and-effect with the decrease in turnover.

  46. Graphics (& Tables): Worth 1,000 Words 6 • They break up the narrative • They appeal to the “right brained” reader • They save space • They can set or complement the style of the application • Exception: Don’t use photos of • People, • Events or • Places

  47. City of Irving's Performance Improvement Process P.2c: “What are the key elements of your performance improvement system…? City of Irving, a 2012 Baldrige Recipient

  48. MESA’s Sources of Comparative Information Note the linkage to the types of results asked for in Category 7. Mesa Industries, a 2006 and 2012 Baldrige Recipient

  49. PVHS’s Leadership System Poudre Valley Health System, a 2008 Baldrige Recipient

  50. MESA’s Leadership System Mesa Industries, a 2006 and 2012 Baldrige Recipient