October 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 6 
Integrated Defense Systems

First grades

First grades

In its initial year, IDS Business Excellence creates understanding, identifies key areas for enhancing performance

ABOVE: Debbie Collard (right), Integrated Defense Systems Business Excellence director, reviews the IDS Leadership System with BE teammate Kris Kierstead. Leadership is one of the seven categories the Baldrige National Quality Award uses to measure performance excellence.

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.

IDS vision statement

An integrated team, providing innovative products and services to protect the United States and its allies and explore the boundaries of space

Leadership principles:
We are team players
We are customer focused
We are performance driven
We are ethical
We are passionate about continuous learning
We inspire people to achieve their potential

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)

IDS Business Excellence: 2005 Scorecard

Internal assessments held throughout Boeing Integrated Defense Systems have identified areas of strength (+) and opportunities for improvement (OFI). Here's a quick checklist of key results for each of the Baldrige criteria categories, as seen by Debbie Collard, Business Excellence director for IDS.

Category 1: Leadership
+: Strong leadership, self governance and compliance
OFI: Managers throughout IDS need to utilize the Leadership System
The new IDS Leadership System has immense potential. Once our managers adopt and "own" it, this will be a huge strength for us.

Category 2: Strategic Planning
+: Some strength in financial and market planning
OFI: Expand planning processes to include every part of IDS
We can keep ourselves from falling short by ensuring that when a strategy is set, there are supporting strategies in all other areas that could be affected.

Category 3: Customer Focus
+: Integrated Business Acquisition Process for determining customer needs and pursuing opportunities
OFI: Develop IDS-wide approach to building customer satisfaction
We need a way to collectively and systematically understand how our customers feel and address what is going to make them happy.

Category 4: Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management
+: The Vision Support Plan is a world-class tool to measure performance
OFI: Ensure uniform use of Vision Support Plan across IDS
Vision Support Plan works at any level, with any size group; but it's not being used as consistently or effectively as it could be. If properly leveraged, VSP also is a tool that could improve Boeing overall.

Category 5: Human Resource Focus
+: Strong performance evaluation and development programs
OFI: Need to better target training to business strategies and goals
We strengthen our competitive advantage when we hire, develop and retain good people who share their knowledge and skills across the organization.

Category 6: Process Management
+: Process model is a good framework of processes
OFI: Need to adopt and implement IDS-wide approach to process management and improvement
IDS is process focused and can make great strides when we improve how we do our work. We created a new process model and methods for management that should have big impact down the line.

Category 7: Business Results
+: Collecting a wide range of measurements and indicators
OFI: Shift focus to data relevant to taking action and making improvements
Results are where the rubber meets the road. IDS must concentrate on those measures that tell us whether we are actually making progress in achieving our goals and how we compare to our competitors. 


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