“It’s the state-level award, but now we want to win on the national stage,” said Gonzalez. “That means applying for the Malcolm Baldrige Award.”
Only a handful of national winners are selected each year. Application for the Baldrige is restricted - only organizations that have won at the state level may participate. And simply submitting an application does not ensure consideration. If Irving’s application makes the cut, there will be a series of visits and interviews to delve more deeply into the City’s policies and procedures. What Gonzalez described as a “grueling process” could take an additional 18 months.
“Whether we win or lose, it helps us,” said Gonzalez. “Even winners get a complete evaluation, warts and all, to tell us how to improve.”
Participating in the TAPE, for example, revealed one area where the City could do better.
“It really gave us an education, to all the ranks,” said Gonzalez, “especially the middle management areas, to let them understand the connection between strategic planning, leadership, a workforce focus and knowledge management.”
Within the industry, ‘knowledge management’ refers to a system where employees’ tasks are measured and evaluated; they receive rewards or possibly even bonuses based on exceeding expectations.
“The report that we got back from the TAPE process referred to that knowledge management process. ‘Does everyone understand that, and how to use that? Are they making improvements based on that data?’ Well, they pointed that out - that would be an area for improvement.”
Gonzalez added that the City is already benefiting from the changes it has made through performance management. His figures show significant reductions in fixed costs, for example.
“Overall, we calculate about $40 million saved. There’s lots of ways we’ve done that - for instance, by not filling any Assistant City Managers’ positions.
“Sure, that puts more on me. But if I’m going to tell my people not to fill their positions, I’d better hold my own positions open, too,” he said.