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The Official Baldrige Blog

Focus on the 2015 Judges’ Panel: Dr. Ken Davis

head shot of Ken Davis

Ken Davis; photo used with permission.

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. 

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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One of my favorite people in the whole wide world! This man applies core values and Baldrige principles in every phase of his life... His customers are always uplifted by his servant leadership and willingness to mentor others. I know from personal experience the wealth of wisdom offered and gained by all those who surround him. Thank you for your excellent service to Baldrige and to your team!
Great, great thoughts from all redsenpors!No comment here on which comes first, but from inside the MidwayUSA laboratory, I can share the following observations on the tools that have apparently created the increased engagment, productivity and satisfaction that we are experiencing:1. Leadership by example engaged top-level leaders apparently will be emulated.2. Communications Plan systematic, effective communications is apparently important.3. Recognition and Rewards Everyone seems to post these formal documents in their work spaces.4. Training As we have been able to make our training more systematic and effective, by linking it directly to ISO Process Documentation, our Employee Satisfaction scores have increased.5. Strategic Planning Deploying our Strategic Planning Process down to the work floor, seeking innovative ways to improve productivity, might be improving engagement.Intrestingly, all of the above are just simple Leadership and Management Principles that I had been taught and exposed to throughout my career. Baldrige just helped us build systematic processes to execute these Principles well. We certainly didn't do it before.America needs Baldrige!

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