Volume 04, Issue 6
|Integrated Defense Systems|
In its initial year, IDS Business Excellence
creates understanding, identifies key areas for enhancing performance
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems initiated Business Excellence just over a year ago to promote continuous improvement and improve results. The year included internal assessments to determine what's working well and what isn't.
Boeing Frontiers spoke to Debbie Collard, Business Excellence director, to get an update on BE efforts.
Q: What's IDS accomplished in year one?
A: We have been working to develop a foundation and starting point from which IDS will improve. This has involved educating employees and creating a collective understanding of Business Excellence, particularly the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and how we are using it to understand our business today, share our best practices and make improvements, so we are a better company tomorrow. (Editor's note: The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is the highest honor in U.S. industry and recognizes performance excellence.)
Our eight profit-and-loss centers—the IDS business units—all completed internal assessments based on the Baldrige criteria to identify their strengths and priorities for improvement. We also conducted a supplemental performance review of the overarching IDS organization that, combined with the reports from the individual business units, gives us comprehensive information on our operations and a baseline for going forward.
Q: What milestones are you proudest of?
A: I see a cultural change starting to take hold. We now have an IDS vision statement, which we didn't have before, and six Leadership Principles that describe the culture to which we aspire in IDS. Our leadership team also has developed a Leadership System, which gives managers a shared focus of their responsibilities and processes.
What has particularly impressed and pleased me is the open environment within IDS. There's a willingness throughout the organization to share things that have worked well and embrace practices that are successful in other areas. I expected some resistance to change, and it isn't happening.
Q: Have there been challenges?
A: One challenge has been the perception that everything has to be accomplished quickly. However, BE represents long-term transformational change, and we don't want to do things fast at the expense of doing them right—efficiently and effectively. Also, it has at times been difficult to get information out accurately and quickly enough to keep everything running smoothly; so I spend a lot of time trying to communicate more effectively.
Q: What would you like people to know?
A: I want employees, partners and customers to understand BE isn't a separate initiative or program, and it isn't replacing other activities. The cornerstone of BE is the Baldrige criteria, a series of questions about our operations that helps us examine how and how well we do business. It links together all of the approaches, standards, systems and tools IDS uses each day, like Six Sigma, software engineering's Capability Maturity Model Integrated, Lean Enterprise and others. BE is a framework for ongoing evaluation, decision making and action—it can be the catalyst for transforming IDS into an organization that is continuously improving, impressing everyone and surpassing our goals.
Q: What's the current focus of BE?
A: In IDS, we are taking the knowledge we gained over year one, about both the criteria and how we are performing to it, to develop specific action plans for improvement, which we will then implement. For example, a couple of business units have particular strengths in customer relations and process management, and we want to replicate their best practices across the enterprise. The business units are further along in creating and deploying improvement strategies, and several already are participating in state quality award programs in order to get independent, external examinations of their operations.
Q: Is winning awards important to the success of BE?
A: An award program excites the spirit within an organization, gets everybody focused on working together and accelerates the improvement process. But the end prize can't be an award. It has to be about having better results and becoming a world-class organization that's continuously improving.
Q: Who is taking part in BE?
A: Because BE is part of how IDS does business, there are actually 80,000 employees involved, whether they realize it or not. If you understand what you do every day for the organization, are never satisfied with the status quo and actively take an interest in improving, then you are "doing" Business Excellence.
For more information, visit the BE site on the Boeing Web (internal link only)
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