Take It to the Next Level!

Posted by Jacqueline Calhoun

As the season of commencements come to an end, many commencement speeches have been given across the nation at every academic level. These speeches thank and honor students for their many achievements and inspire and encourage them to use what they have learned to take it to the next level. For college graduates, they may hear that this is only the beginning of a life-long journey as responsible and productive citizens of our great nation.  Words of wisdom are imparted by many distinguished keynote speakers, examples including, (1) Oprah Winfrey, Harvard, 30 May 2013: “There is no such thing as failure”; (2) Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, Bard College, 25 May 2013: “Starting tomorrow you can change the world”; and (3) President Obama, United States Naval Academy, 24 May 2013: “We need you to uphold the highest standards of integrity and character.”

Sometime after these momentous occasions, some students will trade one school for another—elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to college, and college at the undergraduate level to graduate school.  Others will make their way into the workforce. Of course, many students are already in the workforce, and they aspire to enhance their current knowledge and skills.  No matter what academic level, students who are a part of this graduation season should be commended.  It is all about progressing and improving in your personal journey toward excellence.

Just like the graduates, organizations that apply the Baldrige Criteria to the way they run their businesses are taking their organizational performance to the next level, resulting in better financial results; satisfied, loyal customers; improved products and services; and an engaged workforce. In addition, applying the Baldrige Criteria has helped organizations align their improvement efforts and resources, achieving better coordination and consistency among plans, processes, information, resource decisions, actions, results, analysis, and learning.

Good examples of this are demonstrated by our Baldrige Award recipients, who openly share their improvement strategies and best practices that have allowed them to make continuous progression to organizations that are role models for excellence.  Recently, the four 2012 Award recipient organizations were recognized during the 25th Quest for Excellence Conference… much like the outstanding classes of graduating students.

Does your organization want to take things up a notch? Now is the time to learn—with the help of the Baldrige Criteria, Baldrige examiners, Baldrige Award recipients, and Baldrige-based state, local, and regional programs—what it takes to create a sustainable business model and enable your organization to be more successful than you ever imagined. Who knows? Maybe we will soon be celebrating the success of your organization.

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3 Responses to Take It to the Next Level!

  1. Nancy Timmons says:

    Excellent analogy for continuous improvement. Being in the public education business, I will use this one. Thanks.

  2. Glenn Hamamura says:

    Great article. Just as individuals work to improve and celebrate their accomplishments, organizations need to continue their learning and improvement, and celebrate their accomplishments. Through Baldrige.

  3. Bill Denney says:

    Some of you may know that “Take It To The next Level’ is the title of an excellent book by 2-time Baldrige recipient, Dale Crownover. http://www.amazon.com/Take-Next-Level-Dale-Crownover/dp/0966751906/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371754807&sr=8-1&keywords=take+it+to+the+next+level+crownover

    In his book, Dale explains the challenges he faced in his business and how Baldrige helped him turn things around. It is a great story of struggle and triumph. A not uncommon Baldrige story.

    Even more coincidentally for Jackie’s Blog, Dale also gave a commencement address to his alma mater in which he explained how the Baldrige Criteria can be a life guide and recommended it to the graduating students. You can find his speech here, http://www.nameplate.com/crownover_to_grads.htm

    When you can explain how the Criteria can be used to be a better human being, you truly understand the simplicity and power of the document.

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