I Have Been to Missouri…and What They Showed Me Was Wonderful!

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

Can you imagine a community in which business, education, health care, and government are using Baldrige to improve? Wouldn’t you love to live in that community, not to mention work, educate your children, and receive health care in that community? Well that’s the goal in Columbia, Missouri and they are committed.

I just returned from two fabulous days in Columbia. My host was Larry Potterfield, CEO of MidwayUSA, a 2009 Baldrige Award recipient. The purpose of my visit was to meet with and address the newly formed Columbia Baldrige Performance Excellence Group (BPEG), Larry’s brainchild. The Group is the first of its kind and has the goal of making Columbia a “community of excellence” through use of the Baldrige Criteria. This takes the concept of excellence to a new level, beyond the great accomplishments of Coral Springs, FL, a Baldrige Award recipient that has built a governmental “community of excellence.”  Happy peopleIt’s a brilliant idea and Larry (and I) would love to see the concept replicated around the United States. The Columbia BPEG is affiliated with the Excellence in Missouri Foundation. What a winning combination: organizations use the Baldrige Criteria to improve themselves and their community, the BPEG supports the state program and brings them award applicants, the state program can grow and better support its state improvement activities, and maybe even bring some more Baldrige Award role models to the community and the state.

How do I know the people of Columbia are serious about their intentions? I met with the city manager, the superintendent of schools, the Board of Education chair, business leaders, University of Missouri deans, a newspaper representative, and many other enthusiastic people. Eighty-five people came to lunch to talk about Baldrige, their organizations, and a community of excellence.

What did they want to hear from me: What are the key ingredients to improving using the Baldrige Criteria? The first part is easy. It starts with leadership commitment. Senior leaders need to set the vision, personally demonstrate desired behaviors, communicate, and empower their colleagues. They need to lead strategic planning and oversee execution of the plan. They need to stick with it and not waver. The second key component is measurement and results. It is about achieving results and you only know how well you are doing if you have actionable measures.

They asked about the Baldrige concept of integration. We talked about a community where not only every organization is high performing, but the community members have a vision whereby they can jointly set some key goals for the community as a whole and work on them together. Goals like reducing a defined community health risk or reducing absenteeism at work and schools or improving employment skills of young people.

Happy manI was pumped when I left Columbia. Would I like to live in a community of excellence? You bet I would. How about you? Are you willing to take the challenge to follow Larry Potterfield’s leadership example with other leaders in your community?


About Barbara Fischer

NIST Baldrige
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6 Responses to I Have Been to Missouri…and What They Showed Me Was Wonderful!

  1. Maureen D'Agostino says:

    What an amazing concept! I can’t imagine what the leaders in Southeast Michigan would think of that. Maureen

  2. Mac McGuire says:

    Still in St. Louis this am and love the weather. Was 107 in Texas when I left earlier in the week.

  3. Harry,congratulations to Larry Potterfield! He’s setting an example for all of us!! Julia

  4. Larry’s vision for Missouri is tremendous, and one we share in Minnesota. We have created four community forums over the last 15 years (Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and Duluth), and have plans for 3-4 more in the next couple of years. These forums are intended for leaders and professionals to share knowledge and best practices on what drives excellence within organizations. But we also believe that these networks can then be used by community leaders to solve problems that communities face. Essentially, we believe that we can use the same quality principles proven effective WITHIN organizations to addressing challenges ACROSS organizations. In fact, we’ve talked with Larry (and leaders at Heartland Health in St. Joseph, MO to compare notes on their emerging healthy communities vision). My sense is these community models could have real potential in facilitating collaboration, solving problems, and advancing excellence across the US.

  5. Harry Hertz says:

    Brian, I totally agree with you about the use of Baldrige concepts across organizations to build healthy communities. As a matter of fact I have been talking to lots of people, including Lowell Kruse, about the concept. Read my next blog post early next week which focuses on this very topic! Thanks for your comment.

  6. Friend is a friend is. Friends can indomitable spirit is the friend’s friend. Rain, Had a friend can stir. Wealth does not necessarily is a friend, But a friend is wealth. So I agree with you, We must friendly to our friends.

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