Four new judges were appointed to the Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award this year.
Following is an interview of Tammy Dye, who is chief quality officer and vice president of clinical services for Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Indiana, a 2011 Baldrige Award recipient.
What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?
I began my experience with the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program back in 2006. Our organization was on the journey to achieve Magnet status in nursing, and as the vice president of clinical services with oversight of “quality” in the traditional sense in my area, I started searching for an organizational tool that would move us forward in all areas as the Magnet tool had done in the area of nursing.
This research led me to the Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence, and Schneck officially began our Baldrige journey to excellence in December 2006. Indiana did not have a state [Baldrige-based award] program, so the best way for me to learn was to “jump in the water.” We applied as a national [Baldrige Award] applicant, which allowed us to send an individual to the national Baldrige examiner training.
This led to numerous connections and partnerships that allowed our organization to continue our improvement journey by working with Ohio’s state-level program, The Partnership for Excellence [a member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence network of Baldrige-based programs throughout the United States]. As the [Baldrige] process owner for my organization, I became a national Baldrige examiner and moved through to the alumni level while also serving as a board member and a regional judge for The Partnership for Excellence.
How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework (including the Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence) as valuable to organizations in your sector/industry?
U.S. health care is facing unknown and challenging market changes unlike those we have ever seen. We are struggling to do more than just our traditional role of taking care of the sick, as we are transitioning into population health and reinventing what role we should play in the future, along with facing major financial struggles.
I see the Baldrige framework as the focus that an organization’s leaders can utilize to align their team to make sure everyone is moving in the same direction for the same purpose. The framework enables a transition in performance by helping “really good leaders” who’ve been doing “really good things” to structure processes to deliver outcomes at a level that organizations have not been able to achieve before.
How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts to your current work experience/employer?
Schneck Medical Center quickly embraced the framework, and it is now simply the way we do business. Our leadership team utilizes strategic planning to align the work of the organization, we focus on our key customers and meeting their needs and expectations, and we manage by fact instead of intuition or anecdotal information.
I think one of the most important key learnings was where we set our goals: we discovered if we really wanted to be an organization of excellence, we needed to set our targets at the level of the top decile in the nation. Our patients deserve the best care we can provide, so “average” is just not good enough.
As a judge, what are your hopes for the judging process? In other words, as a judge, what would you like to tell applicants and potential Baldrige Award applicants about the rigor of the process?
I have played many Baldrige roles along the way—award applicant, examiner, award recipient, board member and judge for our regional program, and now judge for the national program.
I firmly believe the Baldrige Criteria can transform an organization no matter where it is positioned in the quality curve. The deep dive and self-reflection that are part of using this tool are transforming. This journey is not for the faint of heart. While Baldrige is not as difficult as rocket science, so to speak, delivering excellence will challenge every corner of your organization. It takes you to levels you did not know were possible if you invest the time, energy, and discipline necessary to get there.
What encouragement/advice would you give Baldrige examiners for their work in evaluating organizations as part of the Baldrige Award process?
First, be very proud of where you are at and the contributions you personally have made to impact U.S. organizations on this journey. You may not realize it, but the work you do for each Baldrige Award applicant helps make the economy stronger, whether by enabling businesses to create more innovative products, improving the quality of education for our children, or helping save lives in the health care world.