Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
Last night, I attended a parent/teacher conference at my daughter’s day care center. I learned that she is showing a lot of interest in picture books and seems to share with the other children, and that her next goal is to learn how to use a spoon to eat rather than just play with food (I should mention that she is 16 months old). But as I was presented with my daughter’s abstract art–a nose where the ear should go, and the sky painted green, while the ground is blue–and told about the support and opportunities given to the children to advance their learning, I began thinking about the Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence and how closely the center is following the basic item requirements of the Criteria without even knowing it.
I wonder how many organizations have adopted or put to use tenets of the Baldrige Criteria that have simply become synonymous with good business, education, and health care practices. For all the times that I had to explain what the Baldrige Criteria are to people when I tell them where I work, I wonder how many are already familiar with the validated management practices that the Criteria espouse without knowing they come from the Criteria.
Education Award recipients such as the Montgomery County Public Schools and Iredell-Statesville Schools have embedded the Education Criteria into their cultures, increasing their academic rankings and graduation rates. Perhaps the key to the Baldrige Criteria is not calling them out as a quality tool but embedding them in the culture until they are simply the way the system operates.
Richard Maurer, superintendent of another Baldrige Award recipient, Pearl River School District, said, “We felt that the Baldrige process was best to meet our mission statement … that all students can and will learn. We passionately believe that, and we looked for a model that would get us to that level of achievement. The Baldrige process works for us.”
But back to my daughter’s day care center. It struck me that an organization can adopt the Baldrige Criteria simply at a basic level and embed them into its culture and still find success. At a basic level, an organization can tackle simple questions to guide its operations; for example, “How do you obtain information from your students and stakeholders?” “How do you engage students and stakeholders to serve their needs and build relationships?”
Are there other examples where you can find the Baldrige Criteria embedded into cultures, even at a basic level, without the organization calling them out as such? Isn’t this another example that the Baldrige Criteria have had a profound and effective impact on U.S. organizations?