Read the first part of this series that features 2014 Baldrige Award recipients PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice and St. David’s HealthCare.
Award recipients during the leadership plenary of the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® Conference this week. Following are detailed highlights from those leadership presentations.
Jayne Pope, CEO, Hill Country Memorial Hospital
There is a tourist attraction just north of town—a large granite formation called Enchanted Rock. According to Jayne Pope, CEO of 2014 Baldrige Award winner Hill Country Memorial, that rock represents the history of the nonprofit, rural hospital in the hill country of Texas and its climb to serve its community, getting better and better year after year. "Any one of you who has made a climb knows that some of the most beautiful vistas are along the way," she said. "We at Hill County Memorial have been able to turn, and we have seen some beautiful sights, some wonderful accomplishments. Yet, we can't linger, because we know as leaders, the real work is what lies ahead. . . . Once you have committed to a climb . . . you are obligated to find the best, safest, most efficient road to the top. . . . We have integrated the Baldrige Criteria to help us get through our climb."
Pope said the independent, non-tax-supported hospital is the economic and civic backbone of its communities. Opened in 1971, community members literally collected coins in mason jars to start the hospital, with over 90 percent participating in the fund drive.
Hill Country continues today as a center for caring and compassion, with every workforce member appreciating its "legacy of trust" with the community and demonstrating very impressive results:
Said Pope, "The Baldrige Criteria are what has propelled these results."
The hospital answered its community obligation not by thinking small but with "a powerful promise," she said. Adopting the "proactive, innovative attitude of [its] founders," the hospital redefined its mission in two words: "Remarkable Always," with "remarkable" defined as performing in the top decile in America—and that's across all hospitals, large and small, urban and rural, every hospital industry standard.
Hill Country also lives by a motto, "keep it simple and remember what we are here for": an aspirational and brief vision ("Empower others. Create healthy.") and a measurable and clear mission. "
Before we engaged with the Baldrige Criteria, we thought that we wanted to be the best community hospital anywhere," Pope said. "And then we started to use the Baldrige Criteria, and we started to dream bigger. We thought about being the best hospital in the nation."
Pope shared leadership lessons that Hill Country has learned:
In 2007, Pope said the hospital looked at where it performed against other top hospitals. "We weren't great," she said. "We recognized that we needed a framework to help get us to the top, so we chose the Baldrige framework. . . . Year after year after year, we got better, until now we're in the top 1 percent in the nation."
In regards to the climb to always get better, Pope said, "We’re not perfect. We’re not at the summit. We have opportunities to learn. . . . .We can’t linger, our real work is ahead."
Gerry Agnes, CEO, Elevations Credit Union
In 1953, 12 individuals at the University of Colorado contributed about $50 to a cash box; individuals making deposits at 2014 Baldrige Award winner Elevations Credit Union now number about 108,000.
Defining a credit union as a nonprofit, financial cooperative, CEO Gerry Agnes said the community-based organization may be small but competes with some of the largest financial organizations in the world. That was one thing he said he learned from Baldrige: identify who you benchmark/compete against. Credit unions have about 6% of the market, but that does not mean they can’t compete "mightily," he said.
Agnes shared lessons he's learned from leading the credit union on its Baldrige quality journey, which started in 2008 with the question, "Just how good are we?"
Of course, the year was 2008, the midst of the financial crisis. Although one in four residents in Elevation's primary market was a member of the credit union, capital wasn't growing nearly as quickly as it was for competitors, neither was there significant growth for the credit union in members or assets.
"Many people were asking us why would you spend financial capital and human resources to undertake [the challenge of adopting the Baldrige framework] in the middle of a crisis. And we thought to ourselves, we're really at a fork in the road," Agnes said. "If we take the wrong fork, we might end up in mediocrity. . . . We wanted to make sure we understood who we are, where we’re going, and how we are going to get there."
Agnes shared some of his leadership lessons:
With honest conversations and a culture permeated by continuous improvement, Agnes said Elevation's quality journey got some momentum, and the results were clear. By 2014, Elevations had seen 2 to 1 growth in capital, 6 to 1 growth in membership, and 2 to 1 growth in assets. This "stark contrast of results stemmed from the Baldrige framework," he said.
Member-centricity was our winning strategy, with fully engaged employees and a very loyal member base, Agnes said; the "financial results are the byproduct of employees serving our members and doing a great job." He added, "My job as CEO is to turn this organization over to the next CEO in better shape than it is today, and through the Baldrige framework, we [will be] able to do that."