How many times have we heard that the pursuit of excellence is a journey and not a destination? It’s practically a mantra in the Baldrige community. But do you ever get weary of the pursuit, want to finally get the Steuben crystal, and rest on your laurels for a while?
Inspiration from Previous Baldrige Award Winners
We recently attended the Quest for Excellence™ Conference to learn from the five 2018 Baldrige Award recipients along with previous Award recipients. All of the speakers were excellent, but the most inspirational to me were those from previous Award recipients. It is clear that their appreciation for the guidance and structure provided by the Baldrige Excellence Framework and their passion in the pursuit of excellence haven’t waned. With presentations from two Baldrige Award recipients going back to 1999 (the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company) and 2001 (University of Wisconsin-Stout), we learned how their use of the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its principles continues to guide them today. With two award recipients from 2010, (K&N Management and Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital), we heard how they have continued to reach even higher levels of performance with innovative solutions to troubling issues: affordable health care for employees (K&N) and effective physician peer reviews (Advocate Good Samaritan).
Continued Improvement Even With Changes in Top Leadership
Other leaders from Hill Country Memorial, Stellar Solutions, and Mountain Valley of Cascadia shared how they use the Baldrige Excellence Framework with its emphasis on systematic processes, organizational agility, and innovation to ensure success for now and in the future. Even large-scale organizational changes such as the former PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector practice spinning off to become its own independent consulting firm (Guidehouse) and Mountain Valley being acquired by Cascadia from Kindred Healthcare didn’t cause these leaders to skip a beat in using the Baldrige Excellence Framework. And with a focus on effective succession planning, the retirement of the superintendent of the Pewaukee School District and the president of Stellar Solutions didn’t disrupt either organization or impact their continued achievement of exceptional results.
All Sectors Drive Improvement Using the Baldrige Excellence Framework
Presentation from other former Baldrige Award Recipients included the Charter School of San Diego, the City of Fort Collins, Charleston Area Medical Center, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, Adventist Health Castle, Mid-America Transplant, Elevations Credit Union, Momentum Group, and Southcentral Foundation. What is particularly notable is that all of the former Baldrige Award Recipients presenting at the Quest represent the full gamut of all of the sectors that the award represents: Manufacturing, Service, Small Business, Health Care, Education, and Nonprofit (including Government).
For the cynics out there who believe this process is all about achieving the recognition and being able to display the Baldrige Award logo on business cards and websites, you couldn’t be more wrong. These benchmark organizations are on a journey of continuous improvement. They truly believe that “good enough” is never “good enough.”