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Best Practices in Application Writing Kay Kendall Excellence at Work Conference February 25, 2011. 11 Abby Rd. Westford, MA  01886 (978) 692-0308. Objectives. Learnings from Previous Applications Review and Characterize OFIs

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best practices in application writing kay kendall excellence at work conference february 25 2011
Best Practices in Application Writing

Kay Kendall

Excellence at Work Conference

February 25, 2011

11 Abby Rd.Westford, MA  01886(978) 692-0308

  • Learnings from Previous Applications
  • Review and Characterize OFIs
  • Understand Changes in the 2011 – 2012 Baldrige Criteria
  • Create a Table of Contents
  • Create a Matrix of Expected Results
  • Process Ownership and Descriptions
  • Review Application Best Practices in
    • Responding to What and How (Process) and Results Questions
    • Leveraging Linkages in the Criteria
objectives concluded
Objectives (concluded)
  • Identify Needed Information to Prepare or Revise Figures and Tables
  • Develop a Detailed Project Plan
  • Map Key Themes to Related Items
  • Review Two Items for ADLI and LeTCI
  • Review Categories
  • Identify Next Steps with Milestones
  • Wrap Up
overview of the application preparation process
Overview of the Application Preparation Process
  • P – Project Plan
      • Table of Contents
      • Matrix of Expected Results
      • Page Allocations
      • Actions and Milestones
  • D – Document
      • Write or Revise
  • S – Study
      • Best Practices from Others’ Applications
      • Previous OFIs (and Strengths!)
  • A – Act to Address Self-Identified OFIs
characterization of ofis
Characterization of OFIs
  • Those that truly represent gaps in your organization’s performance
  • Those that reflect a problem with the way your application was written
characterization of ofis process
Characterization of OFIs -- Process
  • Evaluate “Approach” OFIs
    • Action to develop an approach – or –
    • Action to enhance application
  • Build a cycle of evaluation and improvement into every approach described. Use examples. Be consistent with P.2c.
characterization of ofis results
Characterization of OFIs -- Results
  • Evaluate “Missing” OFIs
    • Data available?
    • Minimize its importance
  • Evaluate trends – explanation?
  • Use a matrix of expected results

Plot your Opportunities For Improvement (OFIs) against two dimensions – impact and ease of addressing


Are you sure about that impact?

The sweet spot!


Don't even think about it!

Are you bored?


Ease of addressing



key changes from the 2009 2010 criteria
Key Changes from the 2009 – 2010 Criteria
  • Category 7 now reduced to 5 Items
    • 7.1 Product and Process Outcomes (now includes accomplishment of strategy)
    • 7.2 Customer Focused Outcomes
    • 7.3 Workforce Focused Outcomes
    • 7.4 Leadership Focused Outcomes
    • 7.5 Financial and Marketplace (“should include”)
  • Reorganized Category 3
    • Removed perceived redundancies
    • Shortened overall length
    • Improved the logic flow
more changes to the criteria
More Changes to the Criteria
  • Category 6 renamed to Operations Focus
    • Item 6.1 Limited to Work Systems
    • Item 6.2 Limited to Work Processes
    • Clarified definitions for both
  • Refocused on Performance Projections
    • Not intended to say that projecting performance is not important
    • Remove from the Scoring Range until in the 90-100% range
    • Added a question in Category 4
    • Added as an element of Strategic Development
and even more changes to the criteria
And Even More Changes to the Criteria
  • Headings for Multiple Requirements
    • Form a basic outline of the Criteria
  • Added two new concepts
    • Intelligent risk
    • Social media in Voice of the Customer
table of contents toc
Table of Contents (TOC)
  • Valuable tool to design and organize application
  • Organized by Organizational Profile and Category
  • Figures illustrate major processes as systems
  • Tables - compact way to summarize information and focus on the most important requirements with results figure numbers
best practices in application preparation
Best Practices in Application Preparation
  • Prepare a 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 a figures plan – the Table of Contents
  • Prepare an 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 reinforce integration
other more subtle tips
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
examples of well done tables and figures
Examples of Well-Done Tables and Figures

Clear, compelling evidence of cycles of evaluation and improvement and organizational learning

Heartland Health

fully deployed
Fully Deployed


a great job of leading the witness
A Great Job of “Leading the Witness”

Poudre Valley Health System

drawing the conclusion for the examiners
Drawing the Conclusion for the Examiners

Poudre Valley Health System

tips for preparing a good application
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?)
  • Some words are red flags -- “regularly,” “frequently,” “often”
  • 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
the criteria are rich
The Criteria Are Rich!
  • The “Basic” Criteria are on pages 4 through 26
  • More information on the meaning of the Criteria is on pages 33 through 48
  • A detailed glossary is on pages 57 through 65
understand how and what
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 1.2b(1); 1.2b(2); 1.2c(1,2); 2.1a(1); 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); 5.2b(1); 6.1a(2); 6.1b(1); 6.2a(2); 6.2b(1)

Performance results (in Category 7)


Define the







A Systematic Approach - “How”

putting the pieces together




  • 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?
  • Who does it?
  • Where and when
  • is it done?
  • How do they align everyone?
  • What happens
  • because of their
  • approaches and
  • deployment?
  • Is it relevant?
  • Are there positive, sustained trends?
  • How does their performance compare with relevant comparisons?


  • Are there evaluation and improvement cycles for the approach?
  • Is there evidence of organizational learning?
Putting The Pieces Together
baldrige criteria language for process
Baldrige Criteria Language for “Process”

1.1a(1) HOW do SENIOR LEADERS set your organization’s VISION and VALUES through your leadership system, to the workforce, to key suppliers and partners, and to patients and other stakeholders, as appropriate? HOW do SENIOR LEADERS’ actions reflect a commitment to the organization’s VALUES?

simplified criteria language
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.
baldrige criteria language for process1
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? How do SENIOR LEADERS identify needed actions? How do SENIOR LEADERS include a focus on creating and balancing VALUE for PATIENTS and other STAKEHOLDERS in their organizational PERFORMANCE expectations?

simplified criteria language1
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
baldrige criteria language for results
Baldrige Criteria Language for Results

7.1a(1)What are your current LEVELS and TRENDS in KEY MEASURES or INDICATORS of health care outcomes and PROCESS PERFORMANCE that are important to and directly serve your PATIENTS and STAKEHOLDERS? HOW do these RESULTS compare with the PERFORMANCE of your competitors and other organizations with similar offerings?

simplified criteria language2
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 …?
the linkages abound or should some examples
The Linkages Abound!(or should) – some examples
  • P.1a(1) Main product offerings --> P.1a(2) Core competencies and 6.2a Work process design --> 7.1 Product outcomes
  • P.1a(3) Workforce or employee groups and segments --> 5.2 Methods and measures differ across workforce groups and segments --> 7.3 Workforce-focused outcomes

[hint: don't forget your volunteers, if you have them]

more examples of linkages
More Examples of Linkages
  • P.1b(2) Key customer groups and segments --> 3.2a(1) Health Care Service Offerings--> 7.2 Customer Focused Outcomes and 7.5(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
and a few obvious ones
And a Few (Obvious) Ones
  • P.2b Strategic advantages and challenges -->2.1a(1) Strategy development process and 2.1b(1) Strategic objectives
  • P.2c Performance improvement system – 6.2b(4)

[hint: really, all Process Items since improve-ment is one of the scoring dimensions]

project planning is key
Project Planning Is Key
  • Milestones
  • Deadlines
  • Who
  • Dependencies
the wow exercise
The “Wow” Exercise

What significant improvements have you made at your location since your last application?

What are your role model best practices?

What do you want to impress examiners?

developing strength key themes
Developing Strength Key Themes
  • Sources:
    • Key Themes in previous feedback reports
    • Results from the “Wow” exercise
    • Baldrige Core Values
  • Map into Items and Areas to Address
  • Use multiple, but different examples
  • Be consistent in your terminology
begin with the end in mind
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.
your organizational profile
Your Organizational Profile
  • 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 applications examiners might have reviewed (and from their own organizations)?
  • What needs further revision?
organizational profile
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.
developing the matrix
Developing the Matrix
  • 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. 45 - 48
  • Results segmented appropriately based on the story you tell in the Organizational Profile
  • Results with comparisons cited in P.2a.(3)
  • Key to demonstrating alignment and integration
writing at the 70 85 scoring range level process items
Writing at the 70-85% Scoring Range Level – Process Items
  • An effective, systematic approach, responsive to multiple requirements of this Item is evident. (A)
  • The approach is well deployed, with no significant gaps. (D)
  • Fact-based systematic evaluation and improvement and organizational learning, including innovation, are key management tools; there is clear evidence of refinement as a result of organizational-level analysis and sharing. (L)
  • The approach is well integrated with your organizational needs identified in response to the Organizational Profile and other Process Items. (I)

How Examiners Evaluate - Scoring Guidlines -- Processes

  • (A) Approach
    • Do we have systematic processes where we need them?
  • (D) Deployment
    • How well do our approaches extend to the whole organization?
  • (L) Learning
    • Do we evaluate and improve our approaches?
  • (I) Integration
    • Do our approaches complement and reinforce each other (across Categories)?
types of approach evidence
Types of “Approach” Evidence
  • Name of process
  • Purpose/goal
  • Alignment to vision/goals/values
  • Integration with other processes
  • Key steps
    • Input
    • Process Steps
    • Output
types of deployment evidence
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
types of learning evidence
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
types of integration evidence
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
semantics words vs facts
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.


Some Important Terminology -- Results

  • Levels – numerical information on a meaningful measurement scale
  • Trends – a minimum of three data points with the period determined by the cycle time of the process being measured
  • Comparative data – relevant to the underlying process, in line with the vision for excellence, inclusive of competitors, not limited to inside the industry
  • Importance – outcomes reported for key processes and key requirements
  • Segmentation – common characteristics of groups, products and services, markets, etc. Allows for meaningful analysis of the data
scoring guidelines results
Scoring Guidelines – Results

(Le) Levels

Do we have data or just opinions?

(T) Trends

What is the quality of our results over time?

(C) Comparisons

How do our results look against others?

(I) Integration

Are there things we should be measuring but aren't?

(S) Segmentation

Can we identify gaps and best practices through segmentation?

scoring guidelines results1
Scoring Guidelines – Results

(Le) Levels

Do we have data or just opinions?

(T) Trends

What is the quality of our results over time?

(C) Comparisons

How do our results look against others?

(I) Integration

Are there things we should be measuring but aren't?

(S) Segmentation

Can we identify gaps and best practices through segmentation?

writing at the 70 85 scoring range level results items
Writing at the 70-85% Scoring Range Level – Results Items
  • Good to excellent organizational performance levels are reported for most areas of importance to the Item requirements. (Le)
  • Beneficial trends have been sustained over time in most areas of importance to the accomplishment of the organization’s mission. (T)
  • Many to most trends and current performance levels have been evaluated against relevant comparisons and/or benchmarks and show areas of leadership and very good relative importance. (C)
  • Organizational Performance results are reported for most key patient and stakeholder, market, process, and action plan requirements, and they include some projections of future performance. (I)
types of results evidence
Types of Results Evidence
  • Performance measure used to evaluate effectiveness or efficiency of process
  • Current results
  • Trend results
  • Comparative and/or competitive results
key to results
Key to Results
  • 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
reviewing your application or draft
Reviewing Your Application or Draft
  • Item 3.1b(2)
  • Item 7.2
  • The Organizational Profile
  • Category 1 and Item 7.4
  • Category 2 and Item 7.5
  • Category 3 and Item 7.2
  • Category 4
  • Category5 and Item 7.3
  • Category 6 and Item 7.1
Kay Kendall