A capstone is defined as a "crowning achievement, point, element, or event."
But what does a capstone have to do with the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program? Capstone projects are completed by Baldrige Executive Fellows to improve their own organizations using learning and executive mentoring based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria.
After a year of in-depth learning, face-to-face meetings with Baldrige Award recipient executives and their employees to see role-model performance in action, and peer-to-peer discussions with other senior leaders, each Fellow completes a capstone project to achieve an improvement or innovation of great impact to his or her own organization. The improvement or innovation should lead to strategic results with significant systemic impact in the organization. The Fellows even have access to an "executive-in-residence" who has led a Baldrige Award recipient organization and now lends his advice to program participants. They also have a sponsor within the organization to guide the "crowning achievement."
Fellows' capstone projects integrate Baldrige concepts and the best practices of Baldrige Award recipients learned through the program. In collaboration with his or her sponsor, the Fellow identifies and defines a problem or issue within his or her own organization, develops an approach that taps the learning and leadership skills gained from the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and produces actionable results.
The capstone project is intended to fit the Fellows' interests and leadership challenges along with their organizations’ distinctive needs, with measurable goals along the way. Because the capstone projects are strategically important to the organization, they remain proprietary, but here are some general examples:
- Technology: Your company is operating on two legacy software/hardware systems stemming from a previous merger. They are becoming difficult to maintain and are hampering full integration of the merged company. Your project is the development and smooth rollout of a new cloud-based system as a driver of the next stage of organizational integration.
- Customer engagement: In light of the increasing reliance on the use of social media to gather customer perceptions and interact with customers, your project is to redesign your company’s total customer engagement strategy.
Other examples of potential capstone projects:
- To create and deploy a balanced scorecard to translate your mission, vision, and strategic plan into specific, quantifiable goals
- To use innovation and technology to drive improvements across a complex supply chain
- To create a more integrated knowledge management system to better understand customer segments and your effectiveness in serving them
- To implement a business-to-business enterprise strategy
- To implement a performance management control and information system
What would your capstone project be if you were a Baldrige Executive Fellow?