Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
Because I am a dog lover and someone who has been active in animal rescue, when I heard that the High-Flying Purina Incredible Dog Team® was performing at the 23rd Annual Quest for Excellence Conference, I was pretty excited. And I’m looking forward to it not only because it will be amazing entertainment during the conference celebrating Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients, but because I see all sorts of linkages to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.
First, the dog team is sponsored by Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, a 2010 Baldrige Award recipient, which uses the dog team as part of its focus on pets, a key customer, and its contribution to societal responsibility, a key component of category 1 in the Criteria. (The company has many other societal responsibility contributions focusing on pets including its Purina Give A Bowl, ONE HOPE, and Rally to Rescue programs.) In the last two years, the team trainers have spent more than 300 hours performing for charitable organizations, educating people about responsible pet care, proper nutrition, and how good training can bring out the best in any dog, despite its age.
Another aspect of the dog team that caught my attention was that many of these dogs have been rescued from shelters, where they have been signed over by owners who deemed them untrainable. The spirit in the Criteria of perseverance and investing in a performance excellence program that may not be easy and may not lead to a Presidential Award in the organization’s first year came to mind here. I also remember as a dog rescuer all those phone calls and e-mails that a dog was returned to the shelter or found as a stray and needed to be rescued, and did I have the time to take on another foster dog in an already canine-dominated home. Much like the dog team stresses the “‘incredible’ potential in every dog,” any volunteer animal rescuer knows that the potential is already there, you just need to find the time and will to invest in it (much like the Criteria’s potential for any organization).
Another key element of the Criteria that I’ve turned to during my years in animal rescue is their focus on volunteers, not as people outside of the workforce but as people who are part of your workforce, who your organization needs to train, cultivate, reward, recognize, communicate with, and engage with because they could very well be your key to sustainability, especially in nonprofit organizations.
For me, the High-Flying Purina Incredible Dog Team® showcases some key elements of the Criteria: a focus on customers (in this case pets!), a focus on giving back to one’s community (societal responsibility), and a focus on volunteers. I hope many of you will be able to attend the Quest for Excellence and join in the fun, and I also hope that others can see these key elements in the Criteria and how they can apply and help you improve your own organizations.