Who are the folks who judge applications for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award? In an ongoing blog series, we have been interviewing members of the 2015 Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. In the interviews, they share their insights and perspectives on the award process, on their experiences, and on the Baldrige framework and approach to organizational improvement.
Following is an interview of Dr. Ken Davis, a first-year judge Chief Medical Officer San Antonio Methodist Healthcare System
What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?
My journey into “Baldrige Excellence” started in graduate school when my professors highlighted frameworks for excellence, including the Baldrige process. At that time, Baldrige was used primarily by manufacturing companies striving to remain competitive in a global market. As chief medical officer at North Mississippi Health System, we jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the state Baldrige-based program. We were fortunate to win the State Excellence Award in 1995 and the Governor’s Award in 1997. The improvements we saw in patient outcomes and financial performance encouraged us to continue applying at the national level. After ten years of gradual cultural change driven by the Baldrige framework, North Mississippi Medical Center was honored with the 2006 Baldrige Award.
The changes brought about from the structured, disciplined Baldrige process transformed the entire organization. The entire North Mississippi Health System won the Baldrige Award in 2012, demonstrating the sustainability of these improvements. Since 2008, I have served as the chief medical officer for San Antonio Methodist Healthcare System. We began utilizing the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework in 2010 and were honored with the Texas Award for Performance Excellence in 2014. My experiences using the Baldrige framework to create organizational excellence in two large health care systems give me a unique perspective as a Baldrige judge.
You have a great deal of experience in the health care sector. How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework as valuable to organizations in that sector?
Health care is a complex, highly regulated, and ever-changing field. Failures in health care often result in unnecessary death and suffering. Complex systems with intolerable failures require a systematic, disciplined approach to performance excellence. The Baldrige structure for performance excellence fits this requirement perfectly. It requires focused engagement of multiple stakeholders to meet the demands of customers. Questions posed in the Baldrige categories require a deep introspection to define mission, structure, core competency, values, processes, and relevant outcomes. The Baldrige framework helps us develop the “playbook” we follow to create the care excellence we want for our patients and our own families.
How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts to your own work experience/employer?
We try to avoid the term “Baldrige” with our staff. Instead, we use “Methodist Excellence” to describe our journey. This creates a sense of ownership and permanency to our journey. We never use the terms “Baldrige” and “Award” in the same sentence. This helps our partners see this approach as the way we do business rather than an attempt to win an award. In the five years we have been focused on Methodist Excellence using the Baldrige framework, we have seen remarkable improvements in all our outcome metrics. Success makes believers of all our stakeholders.
As a judge, what are your hopes for the judging process? Or, in other words, as a judge, what would you like to tell applicants and potential applicants about the rigor of the process?
The work organizations and examiners do in preparing and reviewing applications is enormous. As judges, we want this work to provide practical feedback that is useful to organizations continuing their journeys towards performance excellence. We also want to recognize those organizations in manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care, and nonprofit serving as international role models for excellence. Personally, I am looking forward to learning best practices in all these sectors.
What encouragement/advice would you give examiners who are evaluating award applicants (preparing for upcoming site visits) now?
Thank you to the examiners for providing the best consulting any organization can receive! As a recipient of multiple feedback reports over twenty years, I can attest that their work impacts the lives of untold thousands of customers served by these organizations. Many lives have been saved in my health care organizations because of process improvements directly related to the feedback we received.