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1996 Baldrige Winner Continues
Dispersing Control and High Quality
Standards Keys To CRI Success
October hosts the announcement of the
Malcolm Baldrige winners. The award is no stranger to
industry giants (past winners include Motorola, IBM and
FedEx), but last October it was a small company standing
tall. Custom Research Inc. was awarded the Malcolm
Baldrige Award (small service business category) for its
relentless pursuit of quality, innovation and perfection.
This October, as CRI celebrates the one year anniversary
of their Baldrige win, News for a Change Editor Bill
Brewer spoke with CRI Executive Vice President Jan
Elsesser about information-sharing, empowering teams,
learning a client's business, partnering and the future
At the "Quest for Excellence Conference,"
featuring the 1996 winners of the Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award, you showed a slide that said,
"Leaders give power away." How does that work at
Elsesser: Essentially we look
for really great people. We give them the tools they need
to do their jobs and then get out of their way so they
can actually run things. Our team organization means that
we are really broken down into the smallest groups we
can. We give those groups both the responsibility and
authority to manage their groups and they do it
NFC: You have a little over
100 employees and there are eight senior leaders who work
together to set strategy.
Elsesser: That's correct. In addition to our steering
committee, those eight people represent all aspects of
our business. We have people who represent our technology
expertise; people who represent the team side of the
business. We have people who represent the sales side and
people who represent our new product development efforts.
They cover a full range of what needs to be taken into
account to make that strategic planning
NFC: At CRI all account teams
are measured on quality, client satisfaction and profit.
Who sets those measures?
Elsesser: Actually they begin to set them themselves - subject
to some discussion with managers of course. They also set
what we call surprise and delight goals that are specific
to our clients. They have specific action plans for
making that happen. We look at those quarterly with them
and also at the end of the year to see how we've