AAPA Seaports


Tracking Excellence

For port directors and administrators, pursuing excellence is heavy lifting. Tracking progress is even more difficult.

* By Lori Musser *

Excellence starts with establishing a clear vision of a goal, and relentlessly pursuing it. Excellence requires a bias for action, doing things well and constantly digging for information and refining solutions as you go. Excellence is about accepting only the best, and about taking responsibility to rejig things when the best isn’t given to you.

For port directors and administrators, pursuing excellence is heavy lifting. Tracking progress is even more difficult.

Part of the problem is the diversity of a port’s lines of business, and its functions, making it challenging to create and use a comprehensive and systematic employee, departmental or port performance measurement system. But when seaports can establish continuous improvement initiatives that support port goals and objectives, they are well on their way to a level of excellence that yields improved productivity and asset utilization, reduced costs and greater economic benefits.

Models and Frameworks

While port master plans lay out strategic choices that certainly are meant to achieve excellence, ports still turn to business excellence frameworks to address efficiency, effectiveness, organizational change or competitive positioning. Some popular examples include Six Sigma, Agile, Best Practice, Strategy Deployment, Balanced Scorecards, Total Quality Management and Lean Thinking. In a variety of ways, these frameworks help ports push for excellence.

Similarly, ports in search of excellence apply for certification, often in functional areas, to help set and achieve goals. Many of these, such as Green Marine’s environmental program, offer self-evaluation or third-party verification to help track progress.

Outside organizations salute ports for excellence. Ports that receive commendations and awards from industry publications, associations or government agencies, gain outside validation of their efforts.

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