Follow the Fellows

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

I returned last week from the second meeting with the first cohort of Baldrige Executive Fellows and I come back cheering and truly energized. What a wonderful group of executives, what a rich learning environment we have collectively created, and what continuing dedication on the part of executives from Baldrige Award recipients who are sharing their strategies and engaging in thoughtful dialogue with the Fellows. This meeting was hosted by Susan DeVore, President and CEO of Premier Inc. We were joined by Fellows meeting several of Susan’s colleagues, Sister Mary Jean Ryan,  Chair and CEO of SSM Health Care, and Bob Barnett, our Executive-in-Residence. We had a follow-up conversation with Rulon Stacey, President and CEO of Poudre Valley Health System. The topic for this session was Leadership and Strategic Planning, categories 1 and 2 of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. As is the intent of this fellowship, the session focused on the how’s and why’s of leadership and planning, which bring the use of the Baldrige Criteria to life.

Let me share with you some of the take-aways as shared by our Fellows at the end of the session: 1. Culture trumps strategy – you need to set culture first or strategy accomplishment will be severely hindered. 2. Visionary leaders are passionate and authentic – they walk the talk, they have very different styles, but their sincerity and clarity of purpose is visible. 3. Visionary leaders set aggressive goals – and it’s amazing how often committed employees will achieve them. 4. Engage employees – committed employees are the lifeblood of the organization. 5. Focus and discipline are essential – flavors of the month won’t succeed, leaders need to be relentless in making their aims clear and their messages consistent. 6. A framework for organizing thoughts and processes is critical – Baldrige can provide that framework.

Is any of this rocket science? No. But how many leaders and organizations put these simple lessons into practice? Does yours? Watch for more and “follow the Fellows” in April, when they will have their next meeting hosted by the Ritz-Carlton (focusing on customer and employee engagement), and then have the opportunity to attend our Quest for Excellence conference.


About Barbara Fischer

NIST Baldrige
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