Excellence in Action


At approximately the same time I was working on Gifford Brown’s presentation on lean discussed in my previous post, I was also responsible for developing our plant’s new peer-to-peer, non-monetary employee recognition program, which came to be called “Excellence in Action”.  It’s focus was on recognizing and rewarding the behaviors that supported Cleveland Engine Plant 2’s Cleveland Production System.

This program provided employees at all levels of the organization an opportunity to recognize fellow workers in the categories of Leadership, Involvement, Innovation & Ingenuity, Effort, Quality and Safety. 

I designed the logo shown here.  It was a nice way of depicting the continuous improvement cycle.  Leaders need to experience a level of excellence before they can start to expect it.  Then, they need to exude the behaviors that they should expect their employees to exhibit.  If leaders experience excellence, exude it and expect it, then they need to recognize and reward it when they see it to reinforce the appropriate behaviors.  When this cycle is completed, a new level of excellence will have been achieved.

Recently, I had an opportunity to share this concept as part of a leadership retreat at another organization and made a slight adjustment to indicate the link to continuous improvement and moving forward.  The revised image is below.

What’s valued in any organization gets measured, recognized and rewarded.  As you align your organization, start with an expectation of excellence.  Define what excellence means to you and then model it, so that others can follow you.  Design and align your systems to support your principles and values and make process improvement tools available to all employees and encourage them to experiment and learn.

As you will see as I continue my posts, I like to model my thoughts and present them visually in order to demonstrate alignment.  If the pieces can’t fit together to tell a story, chances are the concepts won’t work.

I’ve been fortunate to have experienced excellence and it is a great feeling.

I’m interested in hearing other stories on how you’ve set expectations and experienced excellence.

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  1. #1 by 5ssupplycom on July 25, 2011 - 10:38 am

    Tim, I am glad to see that you are trying to use Reward & Recognition. As part of our recent 5S Benchmarking Survey I was amazed at how many organizations did not use Reward & Recognition. Keep up the good work. – Tony

    • #2 by valuesstreamldr on July 25, 2011 - 10:57 am

      Thanks, Tony.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. You win the prize for providing the first comment on my blog! I’m not sure what that is yet, but I’ll think of something appropriate to present to you at our next Lean COA meeting!

      It is amazing how difficult it is for organizations to utilize perhaps the most important tool in their toolbox – simple, genuine recognition. I have found that most companies focus on the reward part of Reward and Recognition and ignore the recognition part. Our program at Ford worked to involve employees in the process and recognize the appropriate behaviors that supported our production system. We actually viewed the program as a communications tool to ensure that good news was shared through all levels of the organization.
      At the Cleveland Clinic, we have started a Caregivers Celebration program that focuses on recognizing behaviors that support our values, then, if appropriate, provides additional rewards. The simple e-mail and certificate that employees receive when one of their peers recognizes them feels good and really goes a long way towards reinforcing the expected service behaviors we embrace as an organization.

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