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Application Writing Best Practices 11 Abby Rd. Westford, MA 01886 (978) 692-0308 The Secretary’s Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence.

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Presentation on theme: "Application Writing Best Practices 11 Abby Rd. Westford, MA 01886 (978) 692-0308 The Secretary’s Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Application Writing Best Practices 11 Abby Rd. Westford, MA (978) The Secretary’s Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence Symposium and Awards Ceremony October 27, 2010

2 Agenda  Objectives for writing a better application  The application writing process  “De-coding” the Baldrige Criteria  Top 10 application mistakes  Best practices in application preparation  Other resources 2

3 Objectives for a Better Application  Clear and concise response to the Criteria and the scoring guidelines  Evidence of role model best practices, processes, and results leadership  Earn all the points to which you are entitled for your level of process and results maturity  Relevant, actionable OFIs from examiner feedback to drive further improvement 3

4 Why Are You Here?  What are you trying to accomplish?  What’s working for your organization?  What’s not working in your organization?  Are you a decider or an influencer? 4

5 Where Are You in the Process?  New to the application writing process  Have submitted one application and received feedback  Have submitted more than one application and received feedback  Have submitted an application and received some level of recognition and want to move to a higher level of recognition (within Carey or at the national level) 5

6 Baldrige (Health Care) Criteria Framework: A Systems Perspective 6

7 Begin With the End in Mind  The Organizational Profile asks questions that help you define yourself.  It is a key resource in promoting dialogue among your senior leaders about critical issues.  This dialogue will surface unknown (or unspoken) disconnects that are rippling throughout your organization. 7

8 Your Organizational Profile 8  What is the story you are trying to tell?  What may be difficult for examiners to understand about your organization?  What makes you “different” from other VA applications examiners might have reviewed (and from their own organization)?  What needs further revision?

9 Organizational Profile P.1 Organizational Description P.2 Organizational Situation  It all starts here. It sets the expectations for the rest of the application.  Tell your story.  Challenge assumptions.  Be real. 9

10 Start With the Basic (Item Requirements) 10

11 Starting With Your “Basics”  Most organizations already have some processes in place that respond to the basic requirements of Baldrige. –Planning –Review of organizational performance –Performance management for employees –Delivery of key products and/or services 11

12 12 A Systematic Approach - “How” Define the Process Deploy Measure Improve A System

13 The Scoring System Provides Insight Process  Approach  Deployment  Learning  Integration Results  Levels  Trends  Comparisons  Integration (including segmentation) 13

14 Other Criteria Resources  The Glossary –Systematic –Alignment –Integration  The Core Values  Category and Item Descriptions (the longer version) 14

15 The Criteria Can Be Confusing!  The “Basic” criteria is on pages 4 through 26  More information on the meaning of the criteria is on pages 34 through 50  A detailed glossary is on pages 59 through 67  ALL THREE ARE IMPORTANT!!! 15

16 Understand “How” and “What” The Criteria are a series of two types of questions: “How” questions ask for descriptions of systematic approaches –Asked in Categories 1 – 6 “What” questions ask for: –A list of specific details (in the Organizational Profile and Categories 1 – 6)  See the Organizational Profile; also 1.1b(2); 1.2b(1); 1.2b(2); 1.2c; 2.1a(1); 2.1b(1); 2.2a(4); 2.2a(5); 2.2a(6); 2.2b; 3.2a(2); 4.1a(1); 4.1b(1); 5.1c(1); 5.2b(1); 6.1a(1); 6.1b(1); 6.1b(2); 6.2a(1) –Performance results (in Category 7) 16

17 Putting The Pieces Together Results What happens because of their approaches and deployment? Is it relevant? Are there positive, sustained trends? How does their performance compare with relevant comparisons? Approach What do they do? How do they do it? Is it systematic? Does it support key operational factors and processes? Does it support the Strategic Challenges? Deployment Who does it? Where and when is it done? How do they align everyone? Learning Are there evaluation and improvement cycles for the approach? Is there evidence of organizational learning? 17

18 18 Baldrige Criteria Language for “Process” 1.1a(1) HOW do SENIOR LEADERS set organizational VISION and VALUES? HOW do SENIOR LEADERS deploy your organization’s VISION and VALUES through your LEADERSHIP SYSTEM, to the WORKFORCE, to KEY suppliers and PARTNERS, and to CUSTOMERS and other STAKEHOLDERS, as appropriate? HOW do SENIOR LEADERS’ personal actions reflect a commitment to the organization’s VALUES?

19 19 Simplified Criteria Language What is the process for...?  Setting the organizational vision and values What is the process for... ?  Deploying the vision and values to all employees, key suppliers and partners, and customers.

20 20 Baldrige Criteria Language for “Process” 1.1b(2) HOW do SENIOR LEADERS create a focus on action to accomplish the organization’s objectives, improve PERFORMANCE, and attain its vision? What PERFORMANCE MEASURES do SENIOR LEADERS regularly review to inform them on needed actions? How do SENIOR LEADERS include a focus on creating and balancing VALUE for CUSTOMERS and other STAKEHOLDERS in their organizational PERFORMANCE expectations?

21 21 Simplified Criteria Language What is the process for…?  Driving improvement action  What performance metrics are used?  Creating and balancing (by senior leaders) needs of all Stakeholders

22 Let’s Dissect a Process Item! 22

23 23 Baldrige Criteria Language for Results 7.1a(1) What are your current LEVELS and TRENDS in KEY MEASURES or INDICATORS of product and service PERFORMANCE that are important to your CUSTOMERS? HOW do these RESULTS compare with the PERFORMANCE of your competitors and other organizations providing similar products and services?

24 24 Simplified Criteria Language  What are your current levels and trends of performance in product and service related key measures…?  What are your comparative/competitive results for …?

25 Let’s Dissect a Results Item! 25

26 Let’s Trace a Key Factor Through the Criteria! 26

27 The Linkages Abound! (or should) – some examples P.1a(1) Main product offerings --> P.1a(2) Core competencies and 6.1a Work process design --> 7.1 Product outcomes P1a(3) Workforce or employee groups and segments --> 5.1c Methods and measures differ across workforce groups and segments --> 7.4 Workforce-focused outcomes [hint: don't forget your volunteers, if you have them] 27

28 More Examples of Linkages P.1b(2) Key customer groups and segments --> 3.1a(1) Product Offerings and Customer Care --> 7.2 Customer Focused Outcomes and 7.3(2) Indicators of marketplace performance P.2a(3) Sources of comparative and competitive data --> 4.1a(2) Selection and use of key comparative data --> Category 7 results 28

29 And a Few (Obvious) Ones P.2b Strategic advantages and challenges -->2.1a(1) Strategy development process and 2.1b Strategic objectives P.2c Performance improvement system – all Items that explicitly ask how processes are evaluated and kept current [hint: really, all Process Items since improve- ment is one of the scoring dimensions] 29

30 Top 10 Application Mistakes 1.Failure to answer “what” questions effectively and efficiently 2.Failure to write to the process scoring guidelines 3.Failure to include expected results that meet requirements or lack comparisons and segmentation 4.Wasted space in application 5.Not “examiner-friendly” 30

31 Top 10 Application Mistakes (concluded) 6.Missing or immature essential systems 7.Anecdotal evidence or “name it and claim it” 8.Lack of an effective Performance Improvement System (P.2c) 9.Not having someone knowledgeable review the application before submission 10.Ignoring prior examiner feedback, resubmitting an application but expecting a better outcome 31

32 Best Practices in Application Preparation  Prepare project plan with tasks, roles, milestones, and page allocations  Identify key themes and embed recurring examples  Identify an organizing strategy for application alignment and integration  Prepare figures plan – Table of Contents 32

33 Best Practices in Application Preparation (concluded)  Prepare expected results matrix – requirement, segmentation, comparisons for all important requirements  Prepare process descriptions to show deployment, systematic evaluation, cycles of improvement, and integration  Use cross-references to demonstrate integration  Create the first draft quickly, use the second draft to refine score and integration, use the third draft to final edit and proof 33

34 Other More Subtle Tips  Lead the witness – create an expectation for the examiners of what they will see  Refer to the value of the feedback you have received from previous applications  Draw the conclusion you want the examiners to make with action-oriented figure legends and the use of in-graph comment bubbles  No extra white space – think “data dense”  Take advantage of the Glossary with no page limit  Personalize, personalize, personalize -- help the examiners get to know you 34

35 Developing Strength Key Themes 35  Sources: –Key Themes in previous feedback reports –Things that your organization is proud of –Baldrige Core Values  Map into Items and Areas to Address  Use multiple, but different examples  Be consistent in your terminology

36 Table of Contents  Valuable tool to design and organize your application  Organized by Organizational Profile and Category  Figures illustrate major processes as systems  Tables – a compact way to summarize information and focus on the most important requirements with Results figure numbers 36

37 Developing a Results Matrix 37  Results for your answers to all “What” questions asking about key processes, measures, and goals  Results for any measures required to be reported for your type of organization  Results featured in the Criteria Item Descriptions – pp  Results segmented appropriately based on the story you tell in the Organizational Profile  Results with comparisons cited in P.2a.(3)

38 Key to Results 38  Based on your matrix of expected results  Favorable trends (or an explanation for adverse trends)  Leadership position against relevant comparisons or benchmarks  Some important measures include projections, which should be the same as those used in Item 2.2  Include written interpretation for the examiners

39 39 Options for Writing an Application  Conduct informal assessment (self, facilitated, or using software)  Have an employee “just do it” (Champion)  Create an internal team to write the application  Create an internal team guided by an outside consultant  Have a consultant(s) “just do it”  Remember - it takes time to write!

40 Tips For Preparing a Good Application  Remember, the better your application, the more relevant your feedback  Learn to think like an examiner (hmmm, become an examiner?)  Be consistent in your terminology  Help examiners find the information (tables, cross-references)  For results, “tell” the examiners the conclusions they should be drawing  “Write” your own Key Themes and map them into the application  Use the application summaries posted by Award Recipients for clarification and inspiration 40

41 41 Evidence – Things to Include  Description of approach  Systematic nature of approaches  Maturity of approaches, cycles of improvement  Depth of deployment across organization  Degree of fact-based evaluation and improvement  Linkage between approaches and results

42 42 Semantics - Words vs. Facts  “Words” are frequently generalizations and emotion or opinion-based  Facts are specific and based on objective data Words:TNB uses a proven, fact-based, strategic planning process. Fact:TNB’s strategic planning process was first developed in 2001 and has been improved annually. It is a five-step process spanning 3 months and involves both the EMC and all other employees. Its output is: strategic plan, operating plan, action plans for improvement, individual employee performance plans.

43 43 Five Basic Criteria Elements – Directly Related to Scores  Approach - How?  Deployment - Where?  Learning – Cycles of improvement?  Integration - Aligned? Linked?  Results - Current performance? Trends? Comparisons?

44 44 Types of “Approach” Evidence  Name of process  Purpose/goal  Alignment to vision/goals/values  Integration with other processes  Key steps –Input –Process Steps –Output

45 45 Types of “Deployment” Evidence  Process management –Function/group administering process  Process maturity –Date process initially implemented  Depth of deployment –Locations where process occurs in organization –Types/levels of employees involved in process –Frequency

46 46 Types of “Learning” Evidence  Cycles of improvement  Date(s) of improvements  Description of improvement(s)  Evidence of fact-based evaluation and improvement process  “Breakthrough” change and innovation  Sharing with other work units

47 47 Types of “Integration” Evidence  Alignment with needs and processes across work units  Complementary measures, information and approaches to improvement across work units  Harmonized plans and actions across work units

48 48 Types of Results Evidence  Performance measure used to evaluate effectiveness or efficiency of process  Current results  Trend results  Comparative and/or competitive results

49 And a Few More Tips Some words are red flags -- “regularly,” “frequently,” “often” The empty assertion or anecdotal evidence Future tense doesn't get you credit Inconsistent references to parts of your organization, initiatives, and processes “Disappearing” lines of service, customer groups, workforce segments Space-filler results Too much white space 49

50 Other Resources  Self-analysis worksheet (available on  State programs  Articles available through ASQ  Books, such as The Making of a World-Class Organization by E. David Spong and Debbie J. Collard  Coming soon! -- The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing Baldrige in Healthcare; Evidence-Based Excellence ® by Glenn Bodinson and Kay Kendall 50

51 Questions?  Thank you! Kay KendallGlenn Bodinson (978) (972)

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