“Advice for the Path to Business Performance Excellence”

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

Amid the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and among the dramatic canyons and whitewater rapids of the Colorado River, there is a state that takes its business performance excellence seriously.

The-Baldrige-Journey-eBook_Page_01In an exclusive ebook, underwritten by Baldrige Award recipient Elevations Credit Union, four Colorado-based Baldrige Award and state award recipients share stories, tips, and advice on topics that align with the categories of the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Within each topic area, “tips to remember” and “questions to consider” offer the reader thoughtful guidance, for example, on goal setting, change fatigue, brand strategy, comparative data, buy-in, effective meetings and forums, and the “simple-smart” way of working.

The ebook reads, “Working toward the Baldrige Award drives organizations to clarify their purpose, set strategic plans, and ensure effective and efficient processes are in place. As a result, all Baldrige recipients can point to successes like greater workforce engagement, higher customer satisfaction, and business growth. Learnings from the Baldrige journey are applicable to any organization. . . . The Baldrige process isn’t about receiving an award. Instead, it’s about developing practices for continuous performance improvement that will keep your organization on a path of excellence for generations to come.”

Download the free ebook The Baldrige Journey: A Practical Guide from Colorado’s Experts.

Note: Gerry Agnes, president and CEO of Elevations Credit Union, will be speaking at the Baldrige regional conference in Dallas on September 22—along with many other representatives of Baldrige Award recipients in Dallas and Chicago (on September 8). You can access the full schedules and register from links on our website

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Award Recipients, Baldrige Criteria, Baldrige State & Local Programs, Business, Performance Results | Leave a comment

More Recognition for Health Care CEO of Baldrige Award Recipient

By Christine Schaefer

Becker’s Hospital Review recently named Nancy Schlichting, CEO of the 2011 Baldrige Award-winning Henry Ford Health System, on a list of “17 of the Most Interesting People in Healthcare.” The accompanying write-up, by Mary Rechtoris and Laura Dyrda, noted that Schlicting “led the system through a dramatic financial turnaround and focuses on patient safety, customer service, and diversity initiatives.”

Rechtoris and Dyrda pointed out that Schlichting is “known for her work with legislative and business leaders to improve health services while providing affordable care.” And they noted that “in 2015, President Barack Obama appointed Ms. Schlichting chairperson of the Commission on Care to work with the Veteran’s Health Administration to find the best way to deliver care to veterans.”

Schlichting has received numerous accolades for her health care leadership. For example, she was named by Modern Healthcare among “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” in 2013 and by Crain’s Detroit Businessnewsmaker of the year” in 2012. In a related interview for Blogrige at that time, Schlichting described how the seven categories of the Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence helped Henry Ford Health System: “The seven-pillar framework became the basis for strategic planning, measurement and review, prioritization and resource allocation, and improvement and innovation across Henry Ford Health System,” she said.

In regard to innovation, earlier this year Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Henry Ford Health System among “40 hospitals with innovation centers.” The publication described a redesigned patient gown as one of the innovations from the center at Henry Ford Health System, stating that the “Model G Patient Gown … prioritizes patient comfort—notably the closed backside—while maintaining clinical function.”

Henry Ford Health System leaders at Baldrige Award ceremony, April 2012

Henry Ford Health System leaders at Baldrige Award ceremony, April 2012: Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher; Commerce Secretary John Bryson; Nancy Schlichting, CEO; Robert Riney, President and COO; Baldrige Foundation Chair Debbie Collard – Credit: Peter Cutts/NIST

The leaders of Henry Ford Health System, according to Schlichting’s remarks at the 2012 Baldrige Award ceremony, found that the Baldrige framework was not just about improvement and measurement but also about core values, culture, and a vision for the future. “For those considering the Baldrige framework, I want to testify to the magnitude of results you can achieve,” Schlichting stated at the ceremony. “It was the use of the Baldrige framework that boosted our ability to deliver better care to our patients.”


Is your organization also using the Baldrige framework to improve and innovate your products and services to better meet the needs of your customers? Consider sharing your story here!


Posted in Baldrige Award Recipients, Health Care, Leadership | Tagged | Leave a comment

“Just Doing Nothing Gets You Nothing”

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

When just beginning something—be it a journey for improvement or an initiative to ensure you are prepared and fortified for unavoidable challenges—it’s best to start small, just one step at a time.

At the upcoming Baldrige regional conference in Chicago, Melanie Taylor, deputy superintendent, curriculum and instruction, at Baldrige Award recipient Iredell-Statesville Schools, will outline how to start small on a Baldrige journey—and why such a journey is so important for educators, as well as for others.

To help an organization get started, Taylor said she plans to touch on key areas; for example,

“I’m going to talk about starting small,” said Taylor. “You’ve got to get started in order to improve. Just doing nothing gets you nothing. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

Through a series of questions, I asked Taylor to give me some background on her topic “How to Get Started on Your Baldrige Journey?” and what learnings she intended to share with the regional conference audience.

What do you feel is the value of a Baldrige journey?

Baldrige provides some established, proven criteria to help you. Start with a self-

assessment to gain a better understanding of how well you’re comm

Used with permission of Iredell-Statesville Schools.

unicating your goals, mission, vision, and values internally and externally. Baldrige resources also provide considerations on developing relationships that give you an opportunity to network and benchmark with other organizations and learn best practices. It’s an opportunity to grow and improve what you’re already doing. You may think you’re doing well, but how does that compare to others?

What are your top tips for using Baldrige resources to support education?

The Baldrige framework helps with identification and alignment of key processes to get everyone in your organization moving in the same direction and focused on the things that matter. By getting everyone around the table up front, you’re able to be more effective. We’ve also been able to become more efficient, especially on the operations side. This is especially important in light of the cuts that many states (at least North Carolina) have seen in recent years.

The Baldrige framework also has considerations for measurement and comparisons. By really looking at your data and that of other similar districts that may be outperforming you with similar subgroups or in certain areas, you’re able to identify exemplars to learn best practices.


Used with permission of Iredell-Statesville Schools.

It’s helpful to get someone in your organization trained on the Baldrige framework relatively early on. You’ll need some experts on board to help with clarification and to help move the processes along.

It’s also important for leadership to be bought in and to model behaviors for staff. At Iredell-Statesville Schools, senior leadership was great at modeling expectations. We trained/implemented Baldrige thinking all the way down to the kid/classroom level, so it was pervasive at all levels of the organization. If kindergartners can understand and utilize Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA; continuous improvement), anyone can do it.

What else might participants learn at your conference session?

My focus will really be on processes for schools to take home. While I’m always happy to share our district experiences and my personal reflections, my focus will be on ways to get started on your journey and the importance of doing something.

Note: Melanie Taylor will be speaking at the Baldrige regional conference in Chicago on September 8—along with many other representatives of Baldrige Award recipients in Dallas (on September 22) and Chicago. You can access the full schedules and register from links on our website.

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Award Recipients, Baldrige Criteria, Education | Leave a comment

Accelerating a Common Culture, Especially after Mergers, Acquisitions

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

Nearly three years ago, my health system merged with another system in our market [but] . . . we still occasionally hear “we/they” comments, particularly among the longer-tenured staff. What suggestions can you provide in addition to what we have implemented so that we can accelerate our common culture?

109621072.thbThe question above was recently shared by a health care CEO as part of a feature called “Dear Chuck” in Becker’s Hospital Review. Charles (Chuck) Lauer, the former publisher of Modern Healthcare magazine, gives the reader advice to conduct activities such as staff retreats, executive rounding, public relations campaigns, and shared service projects (e.g., on improving patient satisfaction) to accelerate the common culture after a merger or acquisition.

I’d like to add one more: check out the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria.

“The Baldrige Criteria are fundamental to how we lead our organization. In fact, they served as a very helpful blueprint during a recent acquisition of another hospital. They provided a framework for designing the new health care system,” said Sue (Reinoehl) Birch, senior vice president strategy and communications, for Baldrige Award recipient Bronson Healthcare, in a Baldrige blog entitled “Sustaining Excellence: Merging, Avoiding Folk Lore, and Hardwiring in Health Care.

Birch added, “In our industry, everyone is merging with everybody, from physicians’ offices to hospitals to payors to health systems. So, how do you take separate cultures and merge them together? The Baldrige Criteria gave us the roadmap we needed to create a new organizational culture when we were faced with adding a hospital and bringing together two separate organizations. . . . We used the processes in the Criteria to create a plan for mergers. It’s amazing how the Criteria actually worked to give us the necessary focus and processes. Once merged, everyone needs to be oriented to a new culture. Baldrige guided our processes and structure for that, too.”

Baldrige also provided a framework for Baldrige Award recipient Stoner, a manufacturing and sales company of cleaners, lubricants, coatings, car care products, and a premium glass cleaner called Invisible Glass, to more effectively integrate its acquisitions and to evaluate the business potential of other acquisitions, said CEO Rob Marchalonis, in a Baldrige blog entitled “Small Businesses: Doubling Revenue Growth with Baldrige Framework.” He said being named a Baldrige Award recipient helped give Stoner performance excellence credentials, and the owners/founders of its acquisitions often have become Stoner’s best salespeople.

The Baldrige Criteria also helped the small business in other facets of its business model. Baldrige forced the company to look at its methods, processes, and customer and employee satisfaction and engagement, Marchalonis said. Before Baldrige, Stoner focused entirely on its financial and product outcomes, but Baldrige helped it to improve its overall system by differentiating operational efficiencies and conducting lots of benchmarking, he added.

“The Baldrige Criteria help with . . . creating a culture that is not just a set a tools to make changes—it’s actually a culture of how you do business and how you work and what you value,” said Robert “Rusty” Patterson, chairman and CEO of the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing, in a Baldrige blog entitled “Envisioning the Future for Long-Term Sustainability–How Baldrige Examiners Can Help.” He noted that Baldrige has a set of Core Values, principles that high-performing organizations can follow. One important lesson from decades past, he said, is that you can have a toolbox and fix everything, but you need to establish a culture with common, shared values to make those changes last.

Patterson said he learned the hard way about the difficulties of not having a common culture and core values through his experience with a large merger in the defense industry. Multiple companies were brought together, but the new workforce had different vantage points. “We were in a situation where we realized we couldn’t even figure out how to go and improve something because we each did [it differently. Eventually] we created a common culture, but it was out of necessity, and it was forced on us.”

He added, “I believe most people want to do a good job . . . but if you don’t have that common culture then it’s hard to ever pull that off. I’ve done a lot of improvement activities in my career in different facilities where the CEO was detached from what was going on. He would say . . . just go fix that, but those fixes don’t last. . . . You can get some results immediately, but two–three years later, they’re starting to fall off and go away because there’s no supporting mechanism.”

How to establish the culture you want is not just imperative during mergers and acquisitions but to overall business success. And creating culture has been the subject of numerous Baldrige blogs; for example,

What are your tips for building, and accelerating, a common culture?

Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Award Recipients, Baldrige Criteria, Baldrige Examiners, Business, Customer Focus, Health Care, Leadership, Small Business, Uncategorized, Workforce Focus | Leave a comment

Focus on the 2016 Judges’ Panel: Major General John C. Harris, Jr.

By Christine Schaefer

Did you ever wonder who are the folks who judge applications for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award? What in their background brought them to this high honor, and what advice they may have for Baldrige Award applicants, potential applicants, and Baldrige examiners?

Since the 2016 Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award includes four new members, this blog continues last year’s series of interviews sharing panel members’ insights and perspectives on the award process, on their experiences, and on the Baldrige framework and approach to organizational improvement.

The primary role of the Judges’ Panel is to ensure the integrity of the Baldrige Award selection process. Based on a review of results of examiners’ scoring of written applications (the Independent and Consensus Review processes), judges vote on which applicants merit Site Visit Review (the third and final examination stage) to verify and clarify their performance levels in all seven categories of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. The judges also review reports from site visits to recommend to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce which organizations to name as U.S. role models—Baldrige Award recipients. No judge participates in any discussion of an organization for which he/she has a real or perceived conflict of interest. Judges serve for a period of three years.

Following is the interview of Major General John C. Harris, Jr., a first-year judge who is assistant adjutant general and commander of the Ohio Army National Guard.

MG John C. Harris, Jr.

MG John C. Harris, Jr.

1. What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?

Over the years, I’ve participated in the Baldrige program through the Army Communities of Excellence Program and also as a Baldrige Executive Fellow. I firmly believe that our nation needs Baldrige to maintain a competitive edge in the global arena. Our economy is an important aspect of national security, and maintaining strong and competitive organizations in corporations as well as the nonprofit, government, and health care sectors is essential to our ability to continue all aspects of global leadership. Baldrige is the official national standard and should be embraced as such.

2. How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework (including the Criteria for Performance Excellence) as valuable to organizations in your sector/industry?

As military leaders, we often look at organizational performance through a short-term lens because our tenures as commanders and civilian managers are often limited to two or three years. As a result, we generally focus on what we can influence on our watch. Baldrige transcends that thinking and provides a framework that keeps leaders focused on the seven categories and “running the enterprise” as well as short-term results. While difficult to apply at lower levels of military organizations, the Baldrige Criteria are invaluable for senior leaders in order to avoid whiplashing organizations each time key leaders change.

3. How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts to your current work experience/employer?

We use the Baldrige framework regularly to assess ourselves. It has become a part of our daily language; leaders at all levels of the organization understand it and employ the principles. We use a team approach to writing our application—an approach that allows us to bring mid-grade and junior leaders into the process to gain a deeper understanding of the principles to ensure that Baldrige is sustained by the next generation of leaders. We have been on the journey since 1999, and we are still gaining momentum.

4. As a judge, what are your hopes for the judging process? In other words, as a judge, what would you like to tell applicants and potential Baldrige Award applicants about the rigor of the process?

I’m honored to continue the rich tradition of selecting the very best organizations for the award. As a new judge, I have yet to experience the full judging cycle, but so far I’m blown away by the focus on preserving the integrity of the process and protecting the proprietary information of the applicants. I was most surprised by the rigorous screening process required for appointment as a judge; my top-secret security clearance didn’t spare me from a rigorous vetting process.

It’ s also pretty incredible watching [Baldrige Program Director] Bob Fangmeyer and the Baldrige team at work. There is no doubt that they are committed to sustaining the excellence of the selection process. Bob, along with our lead judge Laura Huston, have made it clear that they will tolerate nothing less than complete fairness and impartiality in the judging process.

5. What encouragement/advice would you give Baldrige examiners for their work in evaluating organizations as part of the Baldrige Award process?

I would tell them to remember the intent of the Baldrige process: to help organizations improve and excel. Examiners carry a heavy load; the intellectual capacity required to do the job is staggering. I believe, however, that the final product the teams produce needs to be easily understood by leaders at every level in order to be useful in a meaningful way. If we write feedback at the Ph.D. level (in terms of language used), it will only have value to a limited audience.

I would also thank them profusely for the countless hours of time and energy every examiner commits to make the process work. As a uniformed service member, I find that strangers regularly express their appreciation to me for service to my country. The work of the examiners is also an important service to our nation yet it is performed in near anonymity. Their work is difficult, important, and greatly appreciated.


See other blogs profiling members of the 2016 Judges’ Panel: Dr. Ken Davis, Michael Dockery, Dr. Greg Gibson, Miriam N. Kmetzo, Ken Schiller, Dr. John C. Timmerman, and Fonda Vera (with more to come soon).


Posted in Baldrige Award Process, Baldrige Examiners | Tagged | Leave a comment