10. Quality in the Public Sector
The Council decided to use the Baldrige Framework and Criteria for Performance Excellence as their framework for Quality.
In the... early 1990s, the government issued, in fact it was Vice President Gore, issued... GPRA, Government Performance Results Act, which said that all organizations in the government were to put together a quality kind of a framework, and the reference they gave was the Baldrige framework.
So that's how we got into the Baldrige framework, was because of that requirement from anyone that received government funds, any organization that was funded by the government, must put this GPRA, Government Performance Results Act, in place. And the Council looked at Baldrige, and said... it was recommended Baldrige, so that made it the outline that we used to go to that framework.
When [the] Council began in 1998, they had ... a quick review in 1997... to the Baldrige criteria, if you will, and one of the things we found is that we needed more focus on "What is our business?" "Who are our customers?" and "What are the results of our product, and what are our products and services, and what are the results that we're driving at?" That's kind of where we began back in 1998.
We laid out the entire picture of the Council, you know, "What is our business?" We outlined and ... answered those questions. "What is our business?" We did a big map on the wall of... who are our customers and what we provide to those customers. What are our expectations to fulfill those customers' needs?
That was an approach, we kind of did a little bit of mapping to... understand "What is the result?" That wasn't necessarily the kind of language that was used in government organizations, of results. It's more business environment. So we went through those first steps.
In that 18 years, things came in and improved, and changes in the criteria itself. And when we get to a thing we call core values, we added in a core value that is very unique and very critical to both the Council's work and in healthcare, and that's to do no harm.
When the Baldrige people started looking at healthcare, or things like the Council's help with people, it's to make sure we do no harm. So that one came in as we fed that back to the Baldrige people.
When we began with the Council, the first step was to understand "What is quality?" "What's quality all about and where does it affect the results and the outcomes of the Council?"
And we started first by looking at "Who are your customers?" and "What are the results?" "What do you provide to them and why are you in business?" And there's a mission statement that the Council has...
The Federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (the DD Act) specifies the outcomes that the Council is supposed to be achieving. As a result of the products provided and services received by individuals with developmental disabilities and families (their customers) through the projects and activities the Council funds, the expectation is that these customer defined measures will increase.
These Federal outcomes are known by the acronym IPSII.
Independence: The personal freedom to make choices and have control over services, supports, and other assistance the individual receives;
Self-determination: The authority to make decisions, control resources, and develop personal leadership skills;
Productivity: Meaningful income-producing work or volunteer work that contributes to a household or the community;
Integration and Inclusion: Full participation in the same community activities as people without disabilities.
Metrics are determined by identifying the critical elements of output, those things that are most important to our customer, and therefore we measure what those might be. Often they are elements of a process, or the outcome and result of a process.
Some of the Council's measurements that need to be put in place is satisfaction of the customer. How did the customer feel about what was provided by the Council? Very important measure, and we began to see that there were elements of that that are very important to the customer and important to the Council. Important to our processes that we have.
One of the measures that we found that could be improved significantly, we were working with paper documents and we found that our website kind of documents, found out it was much more useful to the customers, and you looked at how many people requested our paper documents versus how many people looked at our website document. We got an immediate measure and feedback on one... approach versus the other.
Some of the things we provided were workbooks and information that was... in those days in paper form. And through time we found that we could be more efficient and effective by providing it through electronic form, such as the website was developed through time. But we first had to understand the entire Baldrige criteria and core values, so that we'd understand how quality applies to our organization, to the Council.
It applies a little differently to every kind of industry. But we're a unique industry, a government industry focusing on persons with developmental disabilities, and all those things that are necessary to help those persons have a better life and a better world, which we refer to as our integration... IPSII is our final little acronym that we come down to.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the customers were surprised that they were being asked. That's very common that the customer's surprised that they're being asked to give a feedback. And it's not common within "the public industry" to ask a customer about satisfaction.
When...I'll give you an example, when have you had any government entity ask you "Were you satisfied with their service?" "Are you satisfied?" Four or five simple questions. And it's not common in government to look upon those of us who are paying the taxes, not common to look upon us as people that are customers of what they're to provide. That's a big eye opener when working with any kind of government organization. Federal, state, local.
II have had clients in... I can give you a long list of industries, but perhaps the best client that I've had as a consultant is the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. This Council has absolutely made sure they understand quality, understand what it is within their organization, that it's providing quality to their customers.
I don't have any, in 23 years that I've been in this consulting business that comes anywhere near matching this Council in terms of really trying to dig in, understand what is "quality" and applying it to their everyday business and industry. They even outline their whole operating plan based on the framework on leadership, and planning, and customer focus, and results.
They've really incorporated it like I've never seen in any other organization.
And, of course, I'm quite proud of them for doing that.