WNY Business Excellence Series – The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Business Performance Excellence in Western New York


A Series of Articles by Michael R Weekes, President, Whataboutquality.com.


The BPO – A Shining Example of World-Class Excellence Here in Buffalo!




When we think of business performance our minds might drift toward manufacturing, given our WNY legacy of making things.  It’s easier to see whether a manufacturer is running a lean operation, by how much inventory they have built up on the floor or whether there is a flow in the process.  It’s very tangible to see how many errors or defects they have in the process by looking at the end of the line and measuring how much rework or scrap they have.


But we do a lot more than simply make things inBuffalo.  If you took all the people that work in education, healthcare, non-profit and manufacturing you’d have a much more comprehensive picture of our region. 


We talk a lot about the need to improve the quality of healthcare, but few have a systematic methodology by which that could happen, in spite of success stories here, and in other parts of the US where progress in being made. 


Our public school system is arguably unacceptable and hopes are high that a new leader will help shift performance in the right direction.


When it comes to non-profit organizations, however, it’s not as clear how or whether performance is or can be as important.  Well, I’m here to tell you that business performance in the non-profit arena is at least as worthy of a focus as in tht other three domains.  Best of all, there are a few teams here, who represent that success story I mentioned earlier.


Unlike their profit-driven counterparts, non-profits don’t have shareholders, but they do have donors and benefactors.  You may not think of them as providers of goods and services, but they very much are.  The deliver concerts, CDs, programs and all sorts of goods and services.  How do they deliver value?  How can they be measured? 


Well, they do!  In fact, non-profits deliver something their manufacturing and healthcare counterparts only dream they could deliver:  THEY INSPIRE, EDUCATE AND ENLIGHTEN!  Non-profits connect with and showcase our community, retaining people, jobs and the economy and attracting new people. They partner with other organizations like educational institutions, churches and other non-profits.


The best of non-profits, like the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, here on the Niagara Frontier focuses on six key areas to achieve a performance level competitive with any non-profit nationwide:



Strategy & Strategic Planning




The BPO has a terrificMissionand Vision.  Like most non-profits in WNY they exist to make the quality of life here better, to connect us with great music and each other.  Unlike most non-profits, however, the BPO takes that mission and vision and examines what their strengths and weaknesses are and constructs not only short-term but long term (ten year mind you) objectives.  The BPO has three key strategic themes and a three measurable objective for each theme. They know where they are going and track progress, making adjustments as required.


They know they don’t have unlimited resources so they prioritize on the events and activities they know they can execute, deploying their limited resources wisely, to assure effective results – the delight of the visitor and the willingness to become a subscriber.



Measures and Analysis




The BPO has a set of metrics they use to examine not only effective but how efficient they are.  Non-profits who do this continually deliver more and more value to their community and their benefactors, making them prime candidates fro new funding from the regional agencies, corporations and individuals who choose wisely before supporting a non-profit.  If it doesn’t achieve, in an ever-improving way, growing earned income, contributions and endowments, the BPO is not satisfied with itself.






The team of people who guide and manage the BPO are among the best in their class.  They all have a competency in their respective part of their role, but they all know if they do not collaborate, listen to each other and even compromise their personal goals, they will not be as successful. 


One thing that struck me about the team at the BPO is that they all care about performing their duties with the same dedication that their musicians have to perfection.  It might not be attainable, but the BPO team is never satisfied looking for world-class performance. 


Customer Focus




The customers, like you and I who decide how to spend our free time and hard-earned money have literally hundreds of choices here in WNY when it comes to non-profits.  That’s a good thing, but it also means that non-profits have a very competitive market here.  The BPO makes every attempt to listen to the voice of the customer and the aspects of the experience they have when they invest in a BPO event, making sure critical characteristics of the performance are responded to.  An example of this might be the wide range of options one has, from classical to pop to rock!  This relatively small business team seems to offer a huge menu to choose from in some magical way.


Workforce Focus




At the heart of the BPO is the musician.  The musician is a very special, very unique personality.  They likely have more than twenty years of experience, love developing their craft and are never done learning, all throughout their life.  They expect the same, high-caliber of performance from the folks in the office and on the leadership team, matching their standards and providing them the venues to deliver as much of their talent as possible.  Everybody wins in this internal competition: the performer, the administrator and us, the audience.






The best of firms are so innovative that their performance achieves the attention of national and international organizations like Carnegie Hall and the NYC Spring For Music Festival.  This annual event invites the best of the best to come to NYC and perform and it’s the innovative actions of people like JoAnn Falletta and Mr. Hart that results in such an invitation.Buffalo is famous throughout theUS thanks to the BPO!


I invite you to join me on May 8th in NYC at this event to enjoy not only the concert but all the opportunities that a trip to the Big Apple affords.  Visit bpo.org for more information or sponsor the event, like Whataboutquality LLC.


The BPO regularly takes a look at how results corresponded to not only mission and strategy but what aspects of the key business processes they manage contributed to results and where are the opportunities to improve.  If a performance failed to achieve the attendance they required to be competitive, they find another solution next year, while maintaining that same consciousness of us, the customer, and our critical little preferences and needs.


So, in conclusion, non-profits need to seek and achieve business performance excellence as much as a manufacturer, healthcare provider or educator.  They don’t get the reward of ticket sales, subscriptions or funding if they fail.  Let’s take a lesson from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.  In a town where a discouraging word can be heard perhaps a little too often, let’s recognize this world-class organization, and participate in the joyous value they deliver. Visit Kleinhans Music Hall and re-acquaint yourself with inspiration and enlightenment through music.


Mike Weekes is President of Whataboutquality.  Visit Mike at the new Lafayette Hotel or call him at (716) 517 7957.  If you have a question about how business performance excellence works, email Mike at michaellovesbuffalo@gmail.com.  Join the conversation at www.whataboutquality.com. Visit http://www.bpo.org and subscribe or sponsor an event. Become a partner with the BPO and increase the value of our WNY community!

About michaellovesbuffalo

Michael R Weekes Biography Known as the Couch-Potato-Turned-Marathoner, Mike is the self-published author of EVERYTHING IS A PROCESS specializing in leading organizations toward excellence. Using his experience with six sigma, lean, business process analysis, improvement and other tools, he has led healthcare, bioscience, telecom, automotive, utility and military contractor organizations along the quality improvement journey. Michael specializes in Healthcare and other WNY business domains. He recently helped Blue Cross Blue Shield / Healthnow improve their Rate Letter business process to eliminate overtime, non-value-added costs and elimination of waste in the process. This represented millions of dollars in annual savings of operating expenses, happier employees and delighted subscribers. He is co-founder of Fandemoneum, a sports museum experience to be located in Buffalo. This interactive destination will feature all of the moments, memories, teams and especially fans who make Buffalo and WNY one of the nation’s most exciting places to live. Fandemoneum will help tell the story of Buffalo culture and heritage through sports in a fun and entertaining way. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Mike parlayed his Industrial Engineering and Statistics education into a position as manufacturing engineer. Beginning his career with Raytheon, he developed smart munitions manufacturing processes and introducing new technologies including surface mount high density electronics. With exposure to Lean Principles and Value Stream Mapping, he strengthened his abilities, identifying and attacking waste and non-value-added work and its causes. Mike applied what he learned to help reduce manufacturing cycle times from weeks to days, introducing better work instructions and job aids, improving quality, on-time delivery and employee involvement. His education includes a BS degree in Industrial Engineering from SUNY @ Buffalo, an MBA from Rockford College and Motorola’s Six Sigma Black Belt Program, applying the DMAIC strategy to make cellular telephones better, cheaper, faster. He managed the technology roadmap and ran experiments to prove the reliability of new designs, processes and components to keep John Deere ahead of the competition. Mr. Weekes understands the business process analysis and enterprise architecture arena. He plays the role of analyst or facilitator, helping teams within an organization first acquire the knowledge and know-how, and then guides them in applying the tools. Mike is a contributor to the Value Chain Group and helped develop a working methodology for General Motors, AMD and Proctor & Gamble. Whether its strategic planning, new technology introduction, cost reduction or quality/business process improvement, Mike has the experience and knowledge to take your team on the journey. Michael R Weekes can be contacted at yellowstone_mike@yahoo.com or by calling (941) 356 9434. His company website is www.whataboutquality.com. TO JOIN TEAM FANDEMONEUM, VISIT FANDEMONEUM.COM OR EMAIL US.

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