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The Official Baldrige Blog

Insights from Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award Winners (Part 1)

eaders of 2014 Baldrige Award recipient organizations and Commerce Department Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews watch the procession of the United States Joint Service Color Guard during the Baldrige Award Ceremony on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award recipient organizations and Commerce Department Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews watch the procession of the United States Joint Service Color Guard during the Baldrige Award Ceremony on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

“If we’re not getting better faster than our competitors, then we’re losing ground.” (Scott McIntyre, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Public Sector Practice [PSP] US Leader) “Values are really the culture of our organization.” (David Huffstutler, St. David’s HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer)

“How we live [our organization’s core competencies] differentiates us in our industry and in our market.” (Jayne E. Pope, Hill Country Memorial Chief Executive Officer)

“To make progress … we had to get to the source of truth. My measure of my own success as a leader: “Have I created a safe environment for my team to handle the truth?” (Gerry Agnes, Elevations Credit Union Chief Executive Officer)

Those are some of the insights and lessons shared by senior leaders of the 2014 Baldrige  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.

Scott McIntyre, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Public Sector Practice (PSP)
PSP is one of six businesses within the broader financial services firm of PwC, one of the largest privately held organizations in the world operating in 157 countries, McIntyre explained. PSP operates globally and in the United States, and he has responsibility for its U.S. and overseas operations.

From the start of his presentation, McIntyre spoke of his firm’s need to attract “great talent.” In doing so, he said, it seeks to build a business that is widely recognized as a top performer by third-party endorsements, which now include the Baldrige Award. “Being recognized … is very important to us because our brand is very important,” he said. “We were very fortunate to learn a few weeks ago that PwC’s brand at the global level is ranked number-two in the global brand health index.”

According to McIntyre, the PSP organizational structure is designed to put the customer first and thus reflects “the investments we make in products and services and in people” to serve its clients’ unique needs. To realize its vision to be recognized as the public sector’s clear choice for driving effectiveness across federal agencies, the organization’s leadership focuses on three objectives, said McIntyre. One is building out a leadership capability. This includes understanding competitive dynamics, contemplating changes in the industry, and setting the tone and vision. The second is making sure it furnishes the tools to its employees to support its vision. And the third is grooming future leaders.

Fulfilling those three objectives is his job, McIntyre said. He described the organization’s “leadership pipeline” as beginning with its annual intern event at a Disney amusement park. The experience emphasizes teamwork, collaboration, and sharing. “These are not just core values of our firm,” he added, “They’re core tenets of our leadership program.” McIntyre said one of the unique aspects of his organization’s leadership development program is its dual focus on grooming people to be effective leaders whether they stay with the organization or go on to other organizations—“whether they’re in PwC or [become] clients of PwC.”

A second unique leadership practice of his organization, he said, is “the way we look at what we want to cultivate” in employees. Corporate efforts to develop leaders tend to focus on rewarding performance, he said, but his organization has learned that exclusively rewarding “performers” (those “who bring in money every day”) can drive away “producers” (those “people who produce big ideas … who are true visionaries”). To attract and retain people who can help the organization be competitive for the long term, McIntyre’s organization changed its leadership system to put more emphasis on supporting visionaries even as it maintains a focus on high-performing contributors to the organization’s current success.

McIntyre also shared some of his organization’s learning and improvements as a result of its adoption of the Baldrige framework and process. “Using Baldrige to improve was, I think, one of the smartest things we did in our business,” he said. “It really gave us a touchstone, it really gave us an opportunity to learn about [how the Baldrige framework and criteria for excellence] could be adapted to our organization … and to constantly measure ourselves and evaluate how we’re doing.”

For his organization, he explained, the process was about “taking an organization that was very successful in its marketplace and that’s growing very dramatically… and [making] changes.” Among those changes, the organization refined its core competencies last year. For example, he said the organization recognized that talent recruitment and development “had to be a core competency” for the firm to remain successful.

Another change was to completely overhaul its strategic planning process. Clients’ ever-changing demands and competitive pressures made it necessary for the organization to be able to rapidly develop strategy on a situation-specific basis, he explained.  

David Huffstutler, St. David’s HealthCare
One of the largest health systems in the state of Texas, St. David’s HealthCare encompasses six hospitals, four free-standing emergency departments, four urgent-care clinics, and six ambulatory surgery centers. It also is associated with 76 physician practices and affiliated with six hospitals in outlying areas. It is the third-largest employer in the Austin and central Texas area, with more than 7,400 employees, supported by nearly 2,000 physicians.

St. David’s HealthCare has a unique business model as a joint venture partnership between the for-profit hospital management company HCA and two nonprofit community foundations, St. David’s Foundation and Georgetown Health Foundation. This partnership has been in place since 1996. “It’s really a very unique business model that’s been great for the community,” said Huffstutler. Beyond the capital and operating funds generated, surplus profits go to shareholders of the management company and to both local foundations, he said. In 2014 alone, they contributed $50 million to their communities, he added.

The organization’s mission of providing exceptional care “is the basis of everything we do,” said Huffstutler. Four years ago, it set a vision to be the finest care and service organization in the world. While that vision is “clearly aspirational,” said Huffstutler, “we really wanted to reach for the brass ring.” The organization decided to adopt the Baldrige framework as a way “to really know whether we were getting better and … benchmark ourselves against organizations, not just in our industry but across industries,” said Huffstutler.

“St. David’s HealthCare had not had a very sophisticated performance improvement methodology prior to this time,” he said. “We knew how to execute well, but we didn’t have a framework.” With the Baldrige approach, the organization gained “a disciplined and organized process to get better as an organization, external expertise, and someone who can give us feedback on where we’re going as an organization.” Since embracing the Baldrige improvement process, the organization learned to use the leadership system to take advantage of its core competencies: operating discipline, a culture of excellence, physician collaboration, and clinical expertise. For example, in recent years the organization has applied its operating discipline to prioritize opportunities to pursue, develop action plans, allocate resources, and track programs. He described the organization’s critical success factors as follows:

  1. Improve understanding of mission, vision, and values
  2. Communicate commitment to performance excellence
  3. “Expand the circle” (educating the workforce on why improvement is important and creating internal experts to help with improvement efforts)
  4. Ensure systemwide alignment in measurement and performance (making sure that departmental goals lined up to organization-level goals)

A key success factor, Huffstutler emphasized, “is all about the culture of the organization—it’s all about believing in what you do, understanding that you’re involved in a higher purpose.” Therefore, his organization focuses on driving home its mission, vision, values, and goals through “activities around making sure our employees can understand those and recite those, but more important, be able to convey” them in their daily work. The organization’s performance dashboard reflects a balanced approach with measures in three areas: customer loyalty, exceptional care, and financial strength.

“Making sure we’re good stewards” of resources is his organization’s responsibility to the community, Huffstutler said. Stressing the value of the continuous improvement process, he asserted that his organization has a responsibility to keep improving and that its patients expect it to do so: “We owe it to them, so we have to get better.” In the highly regulated health care industry, he added, the pursuit of excellence is also important because of both incentives and penalties tied to health care quality measures.


About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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