Organizational Investment . . . .

Organizational Investment . . . .

A couple weeks ago I wrote about self-investment – specifically the value of investing in our own learning, growth, and development.  I used the example of Tony Robbins making a $35 investment in a seminar, considering it one of the best investments he ever made.  His key learning?  “For things to change, you’ve got to change.”

Not suprisingly, the same is true for organizations and businesses.  Organizations and businesses need to invest in themselves, and they need to change in order for things to change.  No business can play the victim, and wait for the economy to change, wait for the government to change, wait for fiscal policy to change.  You can I, we create our own future.  And every business, school, hospital, nonprofit, social agency, government entity – creates its own future, too.

How do they do that?  Here are a few key elements:

Identifying and living by their mission and purpose, which comes from knowing their customers and their customers’ needs, even before the customer knows them.

Creating a vision, ensuring there is a vision – a place or picture of what the organization eventually will be.

Identifying and living by a set of values from the organization does not deviate.  Values which guide leadership behaviors, values which govern behavior by employees, and values which customers easily recognize because they see those values lived out in every business interaction, whether in person, online, on the telephone, in social media, or anywhere.

And strategy – as the Baldrige Framework describes it, an “organization’s approach to preparing for the future.”  The organization must determine how it will meet the challenges ahead and leverage the advantages it already has.

That’s the long term.  How does an organization invest here and now?  Two areas come to mind:  process improvement and metrics; you really can’t have one without the other.  Why?  Without metrics, an organization won’t know whether its improvement efforts are bearing fruit; it will never know if things are actually getting better.  So it needs both process and outcome measures.  And it needs those processes and outcomes measures in order to identify what to improve; what work systems, support processes, overall approaches are most in need of improvement.  I don’t care whether you use FOCUS-PDCA, PDCA, Six Sigma, pillars, Kaizen, Lean, Kata, or something else.   Don’t just stand there, do something!  A key is the commitment of leadership, and therefore the organization, to get better, and to know that you’re getting better.  And the best way I have seen to express this comes from the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework itself:

“The purpose of the Baldrige framework is simply to help your organization—no matter its size, sector, or industry—answer three questions: Is your organization doing as well as it could? How do you know? What and how should your organization improve or change?” (p. ii)

And my timing couldn’t be better (of course!) because of the recent announcement of the 2018 award recipients of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award: a nonprofit organization, a small business, a hospital, and two educational organizations.  Read the press release here:, and read about each award recipient’s performance excellence journey at the links to each organization.  And I use the word “journey” intentionally; it’s a journey, not a quick fix.   So look them up; find out what makes Alamo Colleges District, San Antonio, Texas; Donor Alliance, Denver, Colorado; Integrated Project Management Company, Inc., Burr Ridge, Illinois; Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, Jasper, Indiana; Tri County Tech, Bartlesville, Oklahoma worthy of being identified as role model organizations.   And you don’t have to be a nonprofit, or a hospital, or a school, or a small business to learn from them; you just have to want to invest in yourself and get better.

Want to know more and get started on the journey?  Let’s talk –, or 317-732-1048

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