IQC Assessment Scores (Star, Gold, Silver, or Bronze?) – What do they mean?

As an Assessor for SPA, I had given my endorsements for Golds, Silvers, Bronzes and of course, some Stars for several years now.  I use to assess for the Singapore Productivity and Standards Board since those days in the 1990s.  I have seen many inspiring projects and many more impressive ones.

However, I must also say that I had come across several good projects, especially those with very impressive results (big savings); or projects which benefited many people in the company, as well as projects that add great economic value.  BUT the team of Assessors decided that they couldn’t give them anything more than a Silver award.  Needless to say,  for some of these cases, the teams’ managment submitted their ‘appeal’ for a reviewed of the results.

It is always disheartening to see the reaction of their management when those impressive projects were not awarded a Gold Award.  Worse. those impressive ones reveived Silver and sometimes, the less-impressive ones, Gold!

To understand the real meaning of the Award system, one must understand two basic qualifying requirements.

First, the team must understand that they have to provide appropriate and sufficient evidences for each and every criteria mentioned in the evaluation sheet.   My simple advice : What Assessors do not see, Assessors cannot award points.

Secondly, each section or step of the project must be clearly explained and logical.  The project report is drafted to provide a clear explanation on the project.  It should start from the time the team identified the problem, carry out the experiment and compile the results.

But it is equally important that the report be an interesting read for the Assessors.  Why must it be interesting? Imagine you are in the position of the Assessor, who had to read 6 projects or more for each session that they signed up for.  If your project is easy to read, and interesting, surely it will attract more reward points, otherwise, it attracts questions!

Remember, Assessors are busy people and they are not from your company.  They are not familiar with your company, department nor your team’s problem.  The onus is on the team to help the Assessors find opportunities to award points.

Thirdly, you need to understand that the assessment points are not scored as if it is a  ‘common Maths test’.   In a common Maths test, 100 points means each answer matches the expected answer.   In mathematics, there are very few questions with two answers.  However, for the IQC Assessment criteria, every project is unique and therefore to satisfy the criteria, it is possible to have more than one answers.

Points are awarded not because a project achieves the target it sets out to achieve, but what is equally important is how the team arrives at the solution.  The team must explained how the solution was designed and implemented to make it work, and continue to work even after the team ‘ended’ their experiment.  Being not just right once but the solution had continued to be effective.

Thus the project assessment is more like an essay test.  Your ‘project essay’ is being asessed to see if it covers sufficient scope (concept), whether there are sufficient illustrations (facts/evidences).  Your assay must also have a sound argument.  The flow of your argument must be logical, your project must be meaningful, and your solution, interesting.

It must also show a reasonable level of maturity of the candidates participating in the experiment.  In the same way, the assessment of an IQC project during the TES (Team Excellence Symposium) assessors are looking for coverage of the assessment items and how the team argues their case.


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