Spotlight on a Baldrige Examiner: Bill Craddock

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

While the annual online application for the 2017 Board of Examiners has now closed, we are always looking for ways to celebrate Baldrige Examiners. Competitively selected, these volunteers hail from many states, sectors, and professions. Following is an interview of William (Bill) Craddock from Arkansas. President of Craddock & Associates, Inc., Bill has served on the Board of Examiners for the past six years.

Baldrige examiner William (Bill) Craddock

Tell us how you first became interested in becoming a Baldrige examiner?

In my second year of participation in the Arkansas Governor’s Quality Award Program [a member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence, a network of Baldrige-based state and sector programs], I volunteered to be on the training committee. I soon recognized that examiner experience at the national level could help improve our training at the state level. The value began with the knowledge gained from the formal training and discussions with other examiners about how they approached different scenarios, and continued through mentoring by my team leader during the evaluation process. I believe I am a better trainer for our state program because of my participation as a national examiner.

What were your impressions or highlights of your first training to be an examiner? What have been highlights for you of annual examiner training in subsequent years?

I was very impressed with the caliber of the Baldrige examiners in my first training class and felt honored to be included in the room. Everyone (examiners and Baldrige staff) both shared experiences and provided specific feedback on how to improve. In subsequent years, I have enjoyed visiting with colleagues with whom I have served on teams or worked on projects. I have also appreciated the opportunities to help facilitate the training.

Would you please share some memorable learning experiences you’ve had as an examiner on Consensus Review teams?

It’s a difficult balance to stay on schedule for the consensus calls and make sure all team members are both heard and will support the consensus decision. Occasionally, there is a team member who voices an alternate viewpoint in a way that convinces the other team members. Regardless of how passionate some of the consensus discussions are, it always feels great when the team leader declares “we have reached consensus”—especially at the end of the last consensus review call.

How have you applied learning from your service as a Baldrige examiner to your work with various organizations?

There are multiple ways Baldrige participation has helped me. I listen more carefully and try to better understand the other person’s perspective. I recruit organizations to get involved—both as applicants and as sources of potential examiners. I tell them how amazing it is to see truly outstanding organizations up close and personal during a site visit.

My focus is on helping organizations improve. The Baldrige phrase “successful now and in the future” really resonates with me.

Because the 2015 revision of ISO 9001 created greater alignment with the Baldrige Criteria, I am now actively involved with organizations who are working to upgrade to the revised standard. And yes, I still recruit them to get involved as Baldrige applicants!

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Award Recipients, Baldrige Criteria, Baldrige Examiners, Baldrige State & Local Programs, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Building Employee Trust: Tips Validated by the Baldrige Excellence Framework

By Christine Schaefer

In an online Harvard Business Review article this month, Sue Bingham, an expert on creating high-performing workplaces, addresses a growing concern among business leaders today that employees don’t trust their organizations. She then describes four practices to build employee trust. Those who have already read the latest edition (2017–2018) of the Baldrige Excellence Framework will see that Bingham’s four tips align with the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence (part of the framework).

Following are examples of the connections.

  1. “Hire for Trust.”

In elaborating on this guidance, Bingham cautions, “Don’t assume that technical skills and knowledge trump character.”

The workforce-focused section of the Baldrige Criteria (known as category 5) begins with this assessment question as a basic requirement: How do you build an effective and supportive workforce environment? An organization being evaluated against the Baldrige Criteria is expected to describe systematic processes in response to that question and to the more specific question How do you recruit, hire, place, and retain new workforce members?

Baldrige evaluation factors include whether (and the degree to which) an organization’s process is deployed, improved, and integrated. In regard to hiring practices, organizations scoring high in this area of a Baldrige assessment often describe hiring processes that use behavioral-based and team interview practices, among others (though the Criteria do not prescribe particular approaches), as means to aligning hiring outcomes with the organization’s identified values and related organizational culture.

In her HBR article, Bingham makes clear that in high-performing organizations, trust is a key part of the culture. Also emphasizing the importance of the values that define the organizational culture, the leadership section (category 1) of the Baldrige Criteria begins with questions that ask leaders how they set and deploy the organization’s vision and values.

  1. “Make Positive Assumptions about People.”

Bingham points out that negative assumptions by leaders about employees lead to micromanaging, which conveys distrust. She counsels leaders to “give challenging assignments with the clear and confident belief that your expectations will be met” and also recommends that they “promote transparency.”

In the “Workforce Engagement” section (item 5.2), the Criteria ask about fostering an organizational culture characterized by open communication. The Criteria also ask, How do you empower your workforce?, stressing that leaders should give people the authority and responsibility to make decisions and take actions. When this happens, decisions are made closest to the front line, by people who have knowledge and understanding related to the work to be done.

At a more fundamental level, the 11 core values and concepts of the Baldrige framework (and Criteria) include visionary leadership, valuing people, and ethics and transparency. In describing the valuing people concept, the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklet states (on page 41 of the 2017–2018 edition), “Valuing the people in your workforce means committing to their engagement, development, and well-being.”

In addition, in describing visionary leadership, the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklet states (on page 40 in the 2017–2018 edition), “Senior leaders should serve as role models through their ethical behavior and their personal involvement in planning, providing a supportive environment for innovation, communicating, coaching and motivating the workforce, developing future leaders, reviewing organizational performance, and recognizing workforce members.”

  1. “Treat Employees Fairly, Not Equally.”

According to Bingham, a disciplinary policy that treats everyone the same “strips people of their individuality and unique abilities to contribute.” She advocates that leaders instead have supportive discussions with individual employees when there are concerns about performance, given that being treated with respect and support can make people feel safe enough to accept responsibility and motivate them to determine solutions to effectively address their problems.

Again, in describing the valuing people concept, the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklet states (on page 41 of the 2017–2018 edition), “Valuing the people in your workforce means committing to their engagement, development, and well-being. Increasingly, this may involve offering flexible work practices that are tailored to varying workplace and life needs. Major challenges in valuing your workforce members include demonstrating your leaders’ commitment to their success, providing motivation and recognition that go beyond the regular compensation system …”

  1. “Create a Zero-Tolerance Policy for Deceitfulness.”

Bingham states, “High-performance companies value trust so much that they implement and enforce zero-tolerance policies for betraying it.”

Of course, to build trust leaders must be held accountable to the same values and policies. The Baldrige Criteria requirements in the leadership section (category 1) emphasize leaders’ personal actions reflecting the organization’s values and legal and ethical behavior. In the “Senior Leadership” section (item 1.1), Criteria questions include these: How do senior leaders’ personal actions reflect a commitment to [the organization’s] values? How do senior leaders’ actions demonstrate their commitment to legal and ethical behavior?

What’s more, the Baldrige framework booklet’s description of visionary leadership states, “As role models, [senior leaders] can reinforce ethics, values, and expectations while building leadership, commitment, and initiative throughout your organization.”

I’ve drawn out but a few of the ways the Baldrige framework aligns with Bingham’s expert guidance on building trust with employees. But from this sampling of material, I hope it’s clear that using the Baldrige framework to lead and manage an organization will put one on the right track to cultivating employee trust and high performance.

By the way, while the Business/Nonprofit version of the 2017–2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework was released in December, the health care and education versions just became available last week. Find out how to get a copy of the version that’s right for your organization on the Baldrige website.

Posted in Baldrige Criteria, Leadership, Workforce Focus | Tagged | Leave a comment

Future Uncertain? Focus on Efficiency, Stewardship

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

With new policies and directions from an incoming Presidential administration, and the news media theorizing about uncertain futures for organizations across the economic spectrum, U.S. organizations, more than ever, need to ensure that they are efficient and effective with their resources and, most importantly, are providing real value to their customers.

109750946-thbFor example, in a recent Becker’s Hospital Review article, Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove warned U.S. hospitals that they must focus on efficiency in order to prevent hospital closures, especially as a potential new health care delivery system may cause changes and consolidations in the insurance industry.

The Baldrige Excellence Framework’s focus on results provides a natural guide for organizations on how to be efficient and effective. The framework and its Criteria lead an organization to examine itself from three viewpoints: the external view (How do your customers and other stakeholders view you?), the internal view (How efficient and effective are your operations?), and the future view (Is your organization learning and growing?).

This blog focuses on that internal view and how Baldrige and its resources can help—and have helped—organizations ensure that they are efficient and effective with their resources. And along those lines of being efficient and effective with resources, is being a good steward of those resources.

Stewardship can be defined as the care, conservancy, planning, attention, upkeep, and management of resources, whether they be financial, labor, or other type. And any organization that is not a good steward of its resources—including the resource of taxpayer dollars for government agencies—may find that those resources may not be there much longer. According to the Baldrige framework, for nonprofit organizations that serve as stewards of public funds, stewardship of those funds and transparency in operations are especially important areas of emphasis.

This blog compiles stories of ways that the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria have helped U.S. organizations to be aligned, agile, and good stewards of their resources by listening to the voices of their customers and by taking intelligent risks to ensure future success. All of this leads not only to sustainability but, most importantly, creates value for customers, patients, students, and other stakeholders.

“Could Baldrige Help Detroit?” explores how the Baldrige Criteria focused Award recipients on treating their city governments as businesses—forcing them to consider financial stewardship, strategic priorities, customer engagement, and all the other considerations that must be addressed to keep a business sustainable.

In “Orchestra Faces Bankruptcy, Meets Baldrige, Brings Beautiful Music Back to Life,” the New Mexico Philharmonic was able to consolidate its resources by using Baldrige guidelines to become process-based and bring effective business management to the endeavor. Along the way, the orchestra even became a good steward of its gift of music and education, which was shared with economically challenged public school students.

Baldrige and Strategic Planning/Budgeting” explains how a town used the Baldrige Criteria to conduct its strategic planning and budgeting processes, adopting a balanced scorecard to improve its performance measurement and management. For this achievement, the town was honored by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

In “How a Charity is Using Baldrige to Serve the Blind,” the Blind Foundation of India has used the Baldrige Criteria as a way to ensure optimum efficiency and effectiveness—serving over 15 million blind people and raising over $4 million.

For Manufacturers, Baldrige Could be the ‘Cure’ for Focusing on the Future” tells the stories of how small and large manufacturers used the Baldrige Criteria to weather multiple recessions and come out stronger than competitors.

Creating an Organizational Scorecard for the United States Golf Association” outlines how the USGA was inspired from the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to create an organizational scorecard to align metrics to key customers and the strategic plan.

“One Way to Carve Your Values—and Culture—in Stone” tells the story of how one Baldrige Award winner literally cemented the values of its employees in the culture in order to be a good steward of its internal resources.

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Award Recipients, Baldrige Criteria, Business, Customer Focus, Health Care, Operations Focus, Performance Results, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ten Blogs about Workforce Engagement (and the Baldrige Excellence Framework)

By Christine Schaefer

Valuing people is one of the 11 core concepts and values of the Baldrige Excellence Framework (including the Criteria for Performance Excellence). What’s more, “Workforce Engagement” is the title and focus of a section (item 5.2) of the Baldrige Criteria on achieving a high-performance work environment.

Given the key importance of this concept for achieving organizational excellence and success, today I’ve aggregated ten of the most-read blogs Baldrige staff members have written in recent years about workforce engagement. Following is the list, with hyperlinks to each blog.

1. First Win Their Hearts and Minds, Then Consider These Steps:

2. Boosting Workforce Engagement (from the Bottom Up):

3. Baldrige is Answer to How to Create the Culture You Need:

4. How a Role-Model Health System Gets and Grows the Workforce It Needs:

5. [Daniel] Pink: Are Organizations Working Against the Greater Human Nature?

6. How Values, Quarterly Coaching Address Clinician Burnout, Improve Engagement:

7. A Customer Guarantee Absolutely Dependent on Workforce Engagement:

8. Why Status Quo Was Not Enough for This Role-Model Workforce:

9. A “Best Place to Work” with a Culture of Caring:

10. Workforce Engagement: Do You Have Them at “Hello”?


As always, your comments on these blogsand in this case, your thoughts about workforce engagementare welcome here. Please consider sharing your insights and best practices by posting a comment below.

Posted in Baldrige Award Recipients, Baldrige Criteria, Workforce Focus | Tagged , | 4 Comments

What America Still Needs (Part 2)

In my last blog, I talked about the role of the Baldrige Excellence Framework and Criteria for Performance Excellence in enabling organizations of all kinds to achieve sustainable high performance. As I stated, a critical factor in this is the ongoing process of keeping the Baldrige Criteria at the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practices. Through significant and intentional evolution over 29 years, today the Baldrige Excellence Framework offers organizations of all kinds a nonprescriptive leadership and management guide that facilitates a systems approach to achieving organization-wide excellence.

As the Baldrige framework and the Criteria evolve to remain relevant and effective, they must balance two important considerations. On the one hand, the Criteria need to reflect a national standard for performance excellence. They need to serve as a tool for educating organizations in all aspects of establishing an integrated performance management system that effectively considers and addresses internal and external stakeholder needs and expectations. On the other hand, the Criteria need to be accessible and user-friendly for a variety of organizations at varying levels of maturity.

To strike this balance, changes reflected in the 2017–2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework focus on strengthening two areas of growing importance to organizations’ long-term success (cybersecurity and enterprise risk management, or ERM) and on making the Criteria more logical from the users’ perspective.


There were an estimated 300 million cyberattacks in 2015—only 90 million of which were detected—and attacks are increasing at an annual rate of approximately 40 percent. For organizations of all kinds, managing and reducing cyber risks to data, information, and systems have become a necessity.

The Baldrige Criteria have addressed the security of information systems and the confidentiality of information since 2001. In the 2017–2018 revision, Criteria requirements and notes now reflect the growing importance of protecting against the loss of sensitive information about employees, customers, and organizations; protecting intellectual property; and protecting against the financial, legal, and reputational aspects of breaches. Just consider the immediate and potential long-term impact of the recent disclosure that 1 billion Yahoo email accounts were compromised in 2013, along with another 500 million in 2014.

Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)

No organization is risk-free. Intelligent risk management requires your organization to decide when and how to take and manage risks. These decisions can mean the difference between extinction, survival, or role-model performance. The Baldrige framework—through its systems perspective—has long addressed ERM. The future competitive advantage that will flow from good ERM is based on holistically addressing risk and taking actions—including pursuing intelligent risks—as part of an organization’s overall strategic approach to managing its performance.

In the latest revision, some Criteria requirements and notes now highlight (1) that risk is inherent in everything organizations do, and (2) that the challenge is to balance the level of risk taken with the organization’s sustainability and opportunities for innovation.

To make the Criteria more accessible and logical from users’ perspective, we have simplified several Criteria items, and some requirements have been moved, removed, or changed in wording to aid readers’ understanding.

For those who are newer users of the Baldrige Criteria, the Baldrige Program last year published an abridged version of the Baldrige framework for the first time. Called the Baldrige Excellence Builder, this resource consists of the most important questions for organizations seeking to improve their performance. A new Baldrige Excellence Builder based on the 2017–2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework will be available in late January (PDF) and mid- to late February (for printed copies). In addition, for an assessment tool targeted at your organization’s cybersecurity risk management efforts, download the Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder.

The 2017–2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework is available now. The sector-specific versions for health care and education organizations will be available in mid-January 2017.

Posted in Baldrige Criteria, Baldrige Director, Baldrige News, Business, Leadership, Manufacturing, Operations Focus, Performance Results | 1 Comment