Like other federal programs, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is overseen by an advisory committee whose members are appointed by a cabinet member of the Presidential administration; in our case, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. By charter, the Baldrige Board of Overseers is tasked with reviewing the work of the program and recommending improvements.
In an ongoing blog series, we will be interviewing members of the Board of Overseers. In the interviews, they share their insights and perspectives on their experiences, on the Baldrige Program and its products and services, and on the Baldrige approach to organizational improvement.
Following is an interview of John Jasinski, PhD, who serves as president of Northwest Missouri State University. Jasinski has also served as chair of the Baldrige Panel of Judges and as a Baldrige examiner. During the 1990s, he served on the staff of the Baldrige Program, playing a key role in developing the first edition of the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence.
What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige overseer?
I’ve had numerous experiences! They include completing a year-long sabbatical in 1994–1995 serving in the Baldrige Program office, serving as a long-time examiner and senior examiner, co-authoring a case study, and certainly chairing the Panel of Judges. However, it is not really about the experiences—it is about the program’s impacts and people involved. I believe wholeheartedly in Baldrige and the good—great—people who make up the Baldrige family. We do not see walls, boundaries, barriers, or political divides. We work toward American competitiveness and innovation, performance excellence, and cultures of performance. (See a related blog on Jasinski's key role in the Baldrige Education Criteria.)
How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework as valuable to organizations in the education sector?
The framework truly is an American iconic symbol for those who use it! What is better than a systems-base view of an organization that is clear in focus, high in standards, and for those with the courage to strive for excellence? Education is subject to so many winds of change and so-called schools of thought. That said, the beauty behind the Baldrige framework is that it is nonprescriptive, yet unbending; adaptable to types and sizes of education organizations, yet rigorous in standards; and understandable for the novice , yet challenging for the seasoned.
How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts to your current work experience?
I apply the Baldrige core values and concepts, principles, framework, and lines of questioning daily. These permeate my personal leadership construct and thus spill over into the organization’s leadership framework and competencies, planning approaches and execution, student and stakeholder interactions, data use, focus on a high-performing culture, process orientation, and, of course, our metrics. We have so much on which to improve but treasure the culture we have. We say—borrowing from our DII National Championship Men’s Basketball team head coach—that “Culture Wins.” Culture is no accident, and use of the Baldrige principles and concepts allows for proactive fluidity.
The charter of the Board of Overseers says the overseers shall make suggestions for the improvement of Baldrige and act as an advisory committee for the program. As an overseer, what would you like the community/stakeholders to know about the Baldrige Program and its award and other products?
Baldrige is not about the award, but rather, it is about challenging your organization—and entire sector—to grow and mature in ways perhaps not easily envisioned. Baldrige products are value-added; thought-provoking; and tested over time, sectors, organizational types, and locales. Make no mistake—use of the Baldrige framework is not always easy. Nonetheless, I believe that we can all say that those good, meaningful, and advancing experiences in our lives have taken intellectual thought, shaping and improving our experiences. I’m excited by the constant adaptation, the vibrancy of product development, and the partnerships being explored and developed by a program that is truly a thought leader.
What encouragement/advice would you give U.S. organizations thinking about applying for the Baldrige Award or using another one of the Baldrige Program’s products or services?
For those organizations seeking to apply for the Baldrige Award, the feedback and process are priceless! Focus on the process—the little things and big things—and the rest will come. Use the feedback; focus positive and forward; and uplift your organization, sector, and therefore our country. There has never been a more important time for using Baldrige as we prepare to celebrate its 30th year. Organizations and sectors of all types and sizes could benefit from using Baldrige. To boot, those committed to Baldrige truly are involved as public/private servants—serving our country for the sake of advancing personhood, our communities, and those we serve. Happy 30th anniversary, in advance, Baldrige! A profound and sincere thank you to all those who have made, are making, and will make the program distinctive and of great significance.
The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.