Content By Harry Hertz

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By: Harry Hertz

This blog, “Blogrige,” is about organizational performance, but first I need to set the stage.

One of the most prized commodities in many organizations, including mine, is space. Space is tight. Organizational (business) units are always looking to keep their current space and grab more space from other units. My organization regularly does space audits and reallocates space as appropriate.

A former deputy director used to conduct “space walks” to look for underutilized space and reallocate it. On one of those walks, he came upon an office that appeared to be unoccupied but had a few papers and a banana on the desk. He concluded the space was in use because the fresh banana had to be a recent addition. But he misinterpreted the evidence and took a leap of faith: A clever manager had retained space just by placing a ripe banana on the desk. No one was actually using the space productively. The problem was that the deputy director did not explore further than what he could see on the surface. Yet how many times in our daily and work activities do we look no further than the intact banana?

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By: Harry Hertz

Recently I’ve seen some startling statistics from Gallup and Glassdoor about employee and customer engagement. I hope those statistics do not represent data from any organization you or I associate with. The actions of senior leaders, as well as setting the right focus on employees, can prevent your organization from becoming a “startling statistic.”

Moreover, the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence ask the questions that can guide your organization in the right direction.

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By: Harry Hertz

I recently read a blog post by Mary Jo Asmus titled “Eight Unexpected Ways to Continue to Develop Yourself As a Leader.“ Some ways were more obvious (to me) than others, and I will quickly summarize all of them below. However, my main takeaway was to reflect on how I continue to learn. And I would assert that my approach is not limited to leaders, but can help all of us continue to learn.

Let me start with a summary from the referenced blog; the items are in the order presented:
1. Build relationships with your peers; they can help you be more successful
2. Develop your direct reports; they also can help you be more successful
3. Demonstrate you are ready to take on the next level of leadership
4. Leverage your strengths and address your gaps
5. Get above the weeds and become more visionary
6. Use a new hobby to stimulate your brain
7. Focus on your health so you function at your best
8. Show concern for your colleagues

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By: Harry Hertz

The greatest challenge I have each year when I return from the Baldrige Program’s annual Quest for Excellence Conference is prioritizing the most important messages for me and my organization, whether that is my work organization, volunteer organization, or—yes—my family (this one might be stealth). There are always so many great ideas that I know I will not succeed at implementing any of them unless I select only a few for action. The 30th anniversary conference was no different. I returned energized and started organizing my thoughts.

My process begins with seeking thematic highlights and also capturing one or two individual gems of wisdom that I heard from individual speakers. Maybe these will help you set some of your priorities, even if you were unable to attend the conference. Maybe my reflections from this year’s conference will also encourage you to attend the Quest for Excellence Conference next year and discover your own themes.

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By: Harry Hertz

The Baldrige Excellence Framework encourages organizations to create an environment for innovation by pursuing intelligent risks. How do you know whether a new idea is an intelligent risk, and therefore worth pursuing? How do you know if the resulting change is an innovation? An experience from my early days as a bench chemist—which involved a creative solution to a leaking sink—shows that not all out-of-the-box ideas are intelligent risks leading to innovation.

In those early days, I had the opportunity to spend considerable time in the Prince William Sound of Alaska conducting environmental sampling to measure how pristine the environment was before the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline went into operation. The work was challenging because we were developing chemical analysis methods to measure “close to zero” pollution levels. Our base of operations was the town of Valdez, which at that time had no paved runway and no hotels. We rented a rundown, two-story house that was barely fit for habitation and therefore available to visiting scientists.

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By: Harry Hertz

The title to this column probably has you thinking about some life-changing transition or a big vacation to refresh, or maybe a new exercise regimen. If that is the case, I am sorry to disappoint you.

I’m actually about those renewal reminders for annual donations you make to a charity or to renew a magazine subscription. The reminders usually start with “Thanks for your donation last year,” or “Don’t miss a single issue,” or “Immediate action needed.” The most recent one I received was a little more subtle; it said, “Your membership is within the expiration window.” Of course, the notice did not tell me how wide that window is. The common characteristic among these reminders is that they almost always start arriving way before the actual renewal date, but you would never know it from the wording in the mailing you receive.

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By: Harry Hertz

Yes, it’s time for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to pay attention! Having recently seen an article in The Guardian about the new additions to the OED, it seemed a good time to take a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at the 10 words I would propose for inclusion in that venerable reference for the English language. After all, if “yolo” (you only live once) and “squee” (an exclamation expressing delight or excitement) can make it, why not my 10 words?

So, with no shame or even claim to authorship in some cases, here are my 10 proposed additions (in alphabetical order, of course):

1. Custoforce engagement: The act of delighting the customer by empowering the frontline workforce to take action on first contact with the customer, thereby improving both customer and workforce engagement.

2. Gutformation: Ignoring the use of data and analysis in favor of gut instinct as the information source for decision making

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By: Harry Hertz

I recently returned from the ASQ World Conference in Milwaukee. After going through security in Terminal C at the Milwaukee Airport, there was an area (as is typical) for putting shoes back on, and reassembling belongings and yourself. What was different this time was a sign hanging over this area that read: “Recombobulation Area.”

The meaning was clear and the result was a smile, a chuckle, and an immediate easing of the stress that accompanies the challenges of travel and needed airport security. When I returned home, I googled the word, “recombobulation.”

I first learned that the word is listed in the Urban Dictionary and defined as follows: “1. Something being put back the way it was, or into proper working order.” No surprise there.

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By: Harry Hertz

I recently read an HBR blog by Sunnie Giles that reported the results of a study of 195 leaders representing 30 global organizations. The leaders were asked to identify the most important competencies for leadership. The study reminded me of a complementary article in Forbes, written by Glen Llopis, about the competencies employees expect in their leaders. I thought it would be interesting to compare the two studies and also look at the overlap with the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence requirements related to leadership.

The top seven leadership competencies in the eyes of leaders (per Giles) are:
1. High ethical and moral standards
2. Setting goals and objectives, and then empowering employees to achieve
3. Clearly communicating expectations
4. Flexibility to change opinions and admit mistakes
5. Committing to ongoing employee training
6. Communicating often and openly
7. Being open to new ideas

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By: Harry Hertz

In 2013, the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence started asking questions related to an organization’s use of social media. An emphasis was placed on effective use of social media. In the early days of this criteria change, many users of the Criteria had limited engagement with social media. More recently, every organization is using and must use social media, but they don’t always use it effectively.

So you might ask, what is ineffective use of social media? We probably all have personal experiences that could fit in this category. This post was conceived after I received a recent marketing email, the kind that has your name in the salutation. This one read as follows:

“Good afternoon [first name],

Hope this note finds you well. Based on your interest in....”

How do you know my interests, if you address me as [first name] and don’t even know who I am? This was further exacerbated by the email dealing with a subject of absolutely no interest to me.