A New Honor for a Baldrige Education Leader

Posted by Christine Schaefer

Last week, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday—a member of the Board of Overseers of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—was named the 2014 Policy Leader of the Year by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

As former superintendent of Iredell-Statesville (NC) Schools, Holliday led a transformation in the performance of the 20,000-student district starting in 2002. The district (profile linked as PDF) received the Baldrige Award in 2008. Holliday’s leadership of the Iredell-Statesville Schools using the Baldrige Education for Performance Excellence is featured in the book Baldrige 20/20: An Executive’s Guide to the Criteria for Performance Excellence (see page 68).

Terry HollidayHolliday served as a Baldrige examiner for eight years prior to his current three-year term on the Board of Overseers. He has been a vocal champion of using the Baldrige framework for organizational improvement and excellence in U.S. education. As he recently stated,

“The last six years have seen tremendous policy changes in education, not only in Kentucky but across the nation. Kentucky has implemented policies to enact more rigorous college and career-ready standards, assessments, accountability, professional development, teacher and leader effectiveness, data-driven decision making, and a focus on results.”

“Those familiar with the Baldrige Criteria will recognize that Kentucky has implemented policies that address the seven components of the Baldrige Criteria,” he added. “As a leader, the most practical and impactful training I have ever received was through the Baldrige examiner program. Our success in improving education in Iredell-Statesville and now in Kentucky can certainly be attributed to lessons learned from examiner training and the implementation of the Baldrige Criteria.”

In recent years, Holliday also has served on the board of directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Assessment Governing Board, and he co-chaired the task force of the Commission on the Accreditation of Educator Preparation that developed preparation standards for new educators.

The NASBE award, which Holliday will accept at the association’s national conference in October, is an annual honor that recognizes the contributions of a national or state-level policymaker to education. Previous winners include retired General Colin Powell (former U.S. Secretary of State), James B. Hunt (former governor of North Carolina), Gaston Caperton (former governor of West Virginia), Jennifer Granholm (former governor of Michigan), U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Richard Riley (former U.S. Secretary of Education and governor of South Carolina), Tom Kean (former governor of New Jersey), former First Lady Barbara Bush, Richard Daley (former mayor of Chicago), and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

“Commissioner Holliday’s dedication to improving public education and his achievements are renowned in Kentucky and nationwide,” said NASBE Executive Director Kristen Amundson. “His work in cooperation with the Kentucky State Board of Education has made the state a national leader.”

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What Your Board of Directors Needs to Get Better

Posted by Christine Schaefer

What does a high-performing board of directors do? A McKinsey Quarterly article published in April described a progression in the scope of activities of governance boards reflecting higher levels of engagement. Authors Chinta Bhagat and Conor Kehoe wrote, “In performance management, … many boards start with a basic review of financial metrics. More involved boards add regular performance discussions with the CEO, and boards at still higher levels of engagement analyze leading indicators and aspire to review robust nonfinancial metrics.”

A February 2014 article from the McKinsey Quarterly makes a case for more involvement by governance boards in an organization’s long-term strategy: “The best boards act as effective coaches and sparring partners for the top team,” authors Christian Casal and Christian Caspar wrote. “The challenge is to build processes that help companies tap the accumulated expertise of the board as they chart the way ahead.”

Want to assess the performance of your board of directors? Interested in advancing the board’s role in supporting the performance of the entire organization? If so, the Baldrige Program has resources to support you. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence can help senior leaders and advisory boards alike to better understand how well their organization is performing in all key aspects of the governance system.

The Baldrige Criteria offer organizations a comprehensive and complex means of improving and reaching excellence. But an organization need not use the resource in full to benefit. And it is certainly not necessary for an organization to aspire to win the prestigious Baldrige Award in order to begin using the framework in modest efforts that could lead to substantial improvements.

For example, a governance board can benefit from understanding and adopting the systems perspective and other core concepts built into the Baldrige Criteria. Governance board members can better equip themselves to effectively review an organization’s performance by learning how to evaluate the strength of processes and results based on Criteria-based evaluation factors. A board of directors may benefit from using only the questions in the “Leadership” chapter (category 1); those could be used to outline considerations for performance reviews of the senior leadership (item 1.1) or the governance system (item 1.2).

The governance board may also become the catalyst for launching the entire organization’s Baldrige improvement journey. In the case of 2013 Baldrige Award recipient Pewaukee (WI) School District, for example, the board of education initiated the idea of the school system’s full adoption of the Baldrige framework.

To help boards of directors get started using the Baldrige Criteria, we previously highlighted a free resource from the Baldrige Program: A Baldrige Perspective for the Board of Directors (downloadable PDF). That document provides governance boards with a sampling of self-assessment questions on an organization’s performance that span all seven categories of the Baldrige Criteria.

May the Baldrige framework support good governance in your organization, regardless of your size or sector.

Cover image of issue sheet on Baldrige for the Board of Directors

“A Baldrige Perspective for the Board of Directors,” available on the Baldrige Program’s website (from link in text above)


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(Automotive) Quality Professional of the Year

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

Last month, the ASQ Automotive Division named Geri Markley, executive director of Michigan Performance Excellence, as the 2013 Quality Professional of the Year.


Geri Markley receives ASQ’s 2013 Quality Professional of the Year award.

Markley said that Michigan Performance Excellence, a member of the Baldrige-based Alliance for Performance Excellence, was founded 20+ years ago by the largest organizations in Michigan–many of them related to auto manufacturing.

“I’m thrilled to be recognized by the American Society for Quality’s Automotive Division,” she said. “We strive to serve the entire Michigan community and all sectors, including manufacturing, service, small business, education, healthcare, and nonprofits. Our services are provided by teams of dedicated volunteers who want to see Michigan organizations compete and win. With their dedication and hours of support they have provided many organizations valuable feedback on how they can improve and produce better results for customers, employees, and owners.”

According to its website, the ASQ Automotive Division is committed to becoming the worldwide leader on quality issues related to the automotive industry; the division offers webinars, training, and other resources. Members include professionals from almost every discipline in the vehicle manufacturing and supplier business in the automotive, heavy-truck, off-highway, agricultural, industrial, and construction equipment industries.

Markley said that as part of her award acceptance, she encouraged these members to re-engage with the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, which are validated best management practices, particularly as the future of the auto industry is evolving.

The Baldrige Program has had exemplars from the automotive industry and manufacturing sector. For example,

The Quality Professional of the Year Award was established to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions in leadership, managerial skills, and community services.

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Baldrige Competitiveness in Puerto Rico

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

Small businesses in Puerto Rico are becoming more competitive, more sustainable, more global, and many of them have Carmen Martí and the Baldrige Criteria to thank.

For three years, the Puerto Rico Small Business and Technology Development Centers (PR-SBTDC) has been teaching the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to small businesses on the island, with the intention to increase their competitiveness and help them succeed in a global marketplace.

According to PR-SBTDC executive director, Carmen Martí, the Baldrige Competitiveness Program has been a resounding success, with more than 125 businesses, including 250 top-management executives, participating. And word about the value of the Baldrige model has been spreading among other small business development centers (SBDCs): 63 such centers, with a total of 1,100 U.S. offices, are adopting aspects of the program, said Martí. In addition, SBDCs in Central America are adopting Baldrige: “[In El Salvador] they have been inspired by the framework to grow their micro- and small businesses.”

The Baldrige Competitiveness Program


Manuel Fernós of the Universidad Interamericana de P.R.; Carmen Martí; and Jorge Junquera of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co.

Caribbean Business describes the program, which began in 2011, as an initiative to help Puerto Rico businesses establish standards of excellence and become more competitive using the Baldrige Criteria. The participant small businesses represent $307 million in sales and 11,614 jobs, according to PR-SBTDC’s 2012–2013 Annual Report.

Participants who have implemented the Baldrige Criteria report “high-impact results,” especially in the areas of leadership, sales, metrics, operations, human resources, workplace environment, financial results, and client satisfaction, said Martí. “[These participants] are evidence of the efficiency and effectiveness of [the Criteria’s] strategies and operational processes. . . . I guarantee that the Baldrige journey of learning best practices, as well as networking with peer entrepreneurs and Malcolm Baldrige National Quality awardees, will be exceptional and meaningful.”

The program includes eight, monthly, day-long sessions that focus on a theme within the Criteria; the participants are challenged to implement the theme in their own businesses. During the sessions, best practices are discussed (and in many cases adopted), and real-life examples are shared. In addition, at the end of each program, a successful case implementation of the Criteria is presented, and entrepreneurs share how the Baldrige Criteria helped them.


Baldrige Competitiveness Program Participants

Martí said that for many participants, “it has been an extraordinary experience to identify areas of opportunities for improvements in their own business models. As I say, [the small businesses use the Baldrige Criteria to] ‘put the house in order prior to growing and exporting your business.’”

The Baldrige Competitiveness Program has “been a signature product for the Puerto Rican small business community, particularly in today’s challenging times,” Martí said. “We have become very engaged in our business community using the Baldrige framework. . . . The PR-SBTDC completed its [own] accreditation process, based in the Baldrige Criteria concepts, with all standards met and multiple best practices, thanks to the knowledge and understanding of the Baldrige framework.”

Participant Examples

Maximo Torres, of Maximo Solar Industries, in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, completed the Baldrige Competitiveness Program at the end of 2013, after almost two years of learning and getting involved with the Baldrige Criteria.

Maximo Torres said that his biggest learning has been how to restructure his company for growth and to bring consistency to its various areas of operation; actions have included simple things like starting every staff meeting with a review of the mission and vision.

He said Maximo Solar Industries, which manufactures, sells, and installs solar panels, is rebranding itself as a business renewal energy company and using the management framework of the Criteria as a guide. The framework has resulted in a new focus on customer relationship management, knowledge management, training, and process efficiency.

“In all areas of the business, we’ve seen areas of improvement and will continue to do so,” said Maximo Torres. “Business growth is double to what we have had last year. It’s a combination of efforts that have impacted us to restructure ourselves and manage the change. Growth can be a pain, a dangerous path. Having that knowledge from Baldrige and getting everyone in the company on the same page have helped us to be more focused on what we need to do.”

Maximo Torres said the biggest challenge for his company has been managing change and growth, as Maximo Solar Industries moves from servicing just the residential market to the commercial market, as well as to exporting to a global market.

“There are so many programs out there for quality. We are familiar with ISO, Lean, but there has to be something more specific to manage the business and that’s Baldrige. It connects all of the parts of the business to quality,” said Maximo Torres. “We are moving towards total consistency. We want to be the most proficient and excellent contractor not only on the island, but we look to expand to the international market. The next Baldrige steps are crucial for us. It definitely was a great decision to get involved [with the Baldrige Competitiveness Program]. We don’t want to be good; we want to be great, excellent. All of the examples from so many Baldrige Award recipients showed us what was possible, what was realistic. . . . Truly Baldrige is a key aspect to our success.”

“The Baldrige Criteria gave me new skills and knowledge to manage my business, resulting in the development of an integrated strategy improving the company’s marketing, sales, manufacturing, accounting, human resources, and strategic planning systems,” said another program participant Eniel Torres, of Maga Foods in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. “Now I have measurements to manage the efficiency and performance of the company as a whole.”

Eniel Torres said he began as an entrepreneur with a popcorn machine and grew his business to become a manufacturer of gourmet vinaigrette for restaurants in Old San Juan. Maga Foods now manufactures cereals, pancakes, seasoning, and snacks and distributes these products throughout the United States and the Caribbean. A growth strategy guided by the Criteria has allowed the company to add new products and private labels for different establishments, leading to an increase of 10% in exports.

Next Steps

Beyond implementing Criteria strategies and best practices in their own organizations, Puerto Rico small businesses can also look to Texas for additional resources and support. Martí said the PR-SBTDC has partnered with the Quality Texas Foundation, a member of the Baldrige-based Alliance for Performance Excellence, to support small businesses.

“At SBTDC, we are committed to supporting the growth of local enterprises. That’s why we have put all of our efforts into offering this important Baldrige model performance excellence program,” Martí said. “We hope the seeds we have planted will bloom into tomorrow’s local multinational corporations.”

The PR-SBTDC began its next Baldrige Competitiveness Program on the island in spring 2014. “I hope [our success] will inspire other SBDC programs throughout the U.S. to become engaged in the Baldrige journey,” added Martí. “SBDCs serve nearly 625,000 small businesses in the U.S. [Use of the Baldrige model] is a great opportunity to grow and become more competitive as a nation.”

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Criteria, Baldrige State & Local Programs, Business, Customer Focus, Leadership, Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management, Operations Focus, Performance Results, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Engaging Patients in a Changing Health Care System

Posted by Christine Schaefer

In the Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence, the Customer Focus category (category 3) asks how your organization engages its patients and other customers for long-term market­place success. The related self-assessment questions cover how your organization listens to the voice of the customer, builds relationships with patients and other customers, and uses patient and other customer information to improve and to identify opportunities for innovation.

As the U.S. health care system undergoes major changes, what are some effective practices for engaging patients in new and challenging contexts?

I recently spoke with a Baldrige examiner who responds to that question by drawing on both her professional expertise in business management and her personal experiences as the mother of a patient navigating the health care system for multiple surgeries.

Randi Redmond Oster is now in her second year on the Baldrige Program’s Board of Examiners. For more than a decade, she was an engineer and executive with GE Capital. She specialized in new business development and earned Black Belt Six Sigma certification. Oster later applied her business knowledge and skills in her role as a patient advocate for her son as he underwent numerous surgeries.

Randi Oster and her son, Gary

Randi Redmond Oster and her son, Gary Oster

During those experiences, Oster saw numerous opportunities for health care providers to better engage patients and their families through information and tools to empower them. Today she works to educate hospitals and others on how to address such opportunities; she also has shared her insights in a book she wrote on empowering health care consumers.

When Oster works with health care organizations now, she says she “helps them understand the patient perspective today and ways they can move forward by being responsive to the dynamic change that is happening.”

She pointed out three key developments that have changed the ways that health care organizations must focus on customers today:

  1. Consumers have higher deductibles. “Because they’re spending more money, they’re asking more questions,” Oster observed.
  2. Consumers have access to more data on the performance of health care organizations and employees; for example, the Hospital Compare tool on the Medicare.gov site allows consumers to compare organizations on patient satisfaction measures.
  3. Consumers are exposed via news outlets and social media interactions to negative health outcomes via stories about medical procedures. This creates a challenge for the health care community in terms of the satisfaction and engagement of health care consumers. For example, whereas historically wait times were long for patients, health care organizations will risk consumer dissatisfaction for long wait times today.

“The shift in health care is accelerating so quickly that [hospitals] are struggling to keep up,” Oster said. The key question for executives of such organizations is, How do you position your organization for innovative changes at an accelerated pace? Oster sees the Baldrige framework’s category 3 as particularly valuable as health care providers must ensure high levels of patient satisfaction and engagement. After all, funders and customers alike are increasingly using those results to measure such organizations’ performance.

She recounted a turning point in her work with a health care organization that “did not want to lose a patient to a competing hospital and risk not developing a long-term relationship with the customer.” She recalled hospital executives, including the heads of nursing, patient experience, and quality, concluding, “We have to ‘wow’ patients.”

“Not only do such organizations have to meet medical needs,” said Oster, “but they also need to figure out what patients need personally.” The greatest challenge in doing so, she added, lies in the relatively short time a health care provider has to meet the patient’s manifold needs. During a typical 15-minute appointment with a patient, the doctor is in effect a data entry clerk (entering information from the appointment into an electronic health record) and required to listen. “It is hard to ‘wow’ patients if they feel rushed and as if they are merely a number representing data in a system,” she said.

Yet changing doctors and their behaviors can be “cumbersome and costly,” said Oster. She concluded that organizations would do well to empower patients so that “they can maximize those 15 minutes with their doctor.” For example, when her son was hospitalized, Oster kept a “feedback list” and put stars next to names of health care providers she felt did a good job. A few days after her son was discharged from the hospital, she sent a thank-you letter to the CEO of the hospital commending employees on her list. Later, when her son had to be readmitted for complications from surgery, she received words of thanks from nurses and other staff members as they shared that the CEO had read her thank-you letter to all employees. During her son’s second hospitalization, Oster felt she had developed a good relationship with many employees as a result of her feedback.

She has since suggested other hospitals give all patients a similar feedback tool to support the customer relationship. “[Empowering patients] is how they can differentiate their organization from competitors in terms of patient satisfaction and engagement,” she said. She noted that the second set of Baldrige Criteria questions on determining patient satisfaction and engagement (3.1[b]) are about determining satisfaction relative to competitors (3.1[b]2). As the leadership of one hospital realized, “If we don’t do well in satisfying customers, they’ll go somewhere else.” Because of that potential to lose business, innovation in processes to build customer relationships is essential, said Oster.

“My personal mission is to improve the health care system,” she added. “I have a two-tier strategy—bottom-up is to educate people about the system; top-down is to use the Baldrige framework to explain to CEOs how to improve the system by helping them understand the consumer perspective.”

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