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The Official Baldrige Blog

Insights on Leadership (from Insights Columns)

head shot of Harry Hertz

Dr. Harry Hertz

Since its inception in 2010, the online column “Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence”written by Baldrige Program Director Emeritus Harry Hertzhas frequently received more web hits per month than any other page on the site. Particularly popular are the spring columns that have followed the Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference for the past eight years. In those columns, Dr. Hertz has described key themes he perceived while attending the newest Baldrige Award recipients’ leadership and other presentations at the best-practice-sharing event.

With the latest such column posted this spring (“Why Not You?”), I wanted to make it easy for readers to consider and compare the year-to-year themes in organizational leadership chronicled in Insights since 2010. Following are the themes, along with the Baldrige Award-winning organizations that inspired them, from all eight post-Quest columns to date.

2017 Themes in Presentations by Baldrige Award Recipients Don Chalmers FordMomentum GroupKindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center– Mountain Valley, and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital:

  1. Leading for Innovation
  2. Collaborative Team Work
  3. Culture and Strategy Yield Results
  4. Building Trust through Transparency and Accessibility
  5. Family Values

See column “Why Not You?


2016 Themes in Presentations by Baldrige Award Recipients Charter School of San Diego (CSSD), Charleston Area Medical Center Health System (CAMC)Mid-America Transplant, and  MidwayUSA:

  1. Mission, Vision, and Values
  2. Culture
  3. Transparency
  4. Work Systems
  5. Innovation Process
  6. Metrics
  7. Integration
  8. Transformation (or Transformational Change)

See column “The 28th Quest for Excellence Conference in Eight Words and Phrases.” 


2015 Themes in Presentations by Baldrige Award Recipients PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Public Sector Practice (PSP)Hill Country Memorial, St. David's HealthCare, and Elevations Credit Union

  1. Senior leaders set the tone.
  2. Culture, Values, and Trust
  3. Core Competencies
  4. Importance of the Community
  5. Innovation
  6. Goals, Metrics, and Results
  7. Alignment and Simplicity
  8. Importance of People

See column “People, Process, and Plentiful Passion.”


2014 Themes in Presentations of Baldrige Award Recipients Pewaukee School District and Sutter Davis Hospital:

  1. Have a compelling anchor to guide all decision making.
  2. Emphasize key to focus organizational decision making.
  3. Results build engagement.
  4. Stay the course.
  5. Success requires alignment and integration.

See column “First, Put a Stake in the Ground.”  


2013 Themes in Presentations of Baldrige Award Recipients Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire ControlMESANorth Mississippi Health Services, and the City of Irving, Texas:

  1. The Importance of Relationships and Transparency
  2. The Logic Chain of Purpose → Employee → Customer → Strategy (Implementation)

See column “Experience the Energy of Excellence.” (In the same column, Hertz also describes nine themes he saw across the previous 20 years of Quest presentations!)


2012 Themes in Presentations of Baldrige Award Recipients Schneck Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Southcentral Foundation, and Concordia Publishing House:

  1. Engage and build relationships with both customers and employees.
  2. Ground everyone in your organization’s mission and values.
  3. Be open, be transparent, and communicate (senior leaders).
  4. Focus on entrepreneurism and innovation.
  5. Take intelligent risks.
  6. Capitalize on technology.
  7. “Do other things well, and financials will follow.”

See column “The Quest for Knowledge.”


2011 Themes in Presentations of Baldrige Award Recipients MEDRAD, Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., Freese and Nichols Inc., K&N Management, Studer Group, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, and Montgomery County Public Schools:

  1. Ethics and Transparency as a Strategic Advantage (Key Linkage to Workforce Engagement)
  2. Clear Linkage from Workforce Engagement to Customer Engagement to Business Results
  3. Sense of Family within Workforce, Purposeful Focus on Larger Community Involvement, and Commitment to Sustainable Resource Use
  4. Focus on Innovation
  5. Focus on Measuring What’s Important to the Organization
  6. Explaining Why (to Promote Workforce Engagement)

See column “Your Quest for Performance Excellence.”  


2010 Themes in Presentations of Baldrige Award Recipients Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & TechnologiesMidwayUSAAtlantiCare, Heartland Health, and  Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center:

  1. Blend quality tools and the Baldrige Criteria as an overall management framework.
  2. Internal [organizational] communication begins with the senior leader’s personal communications.
  3. The culture of an engaged workforce stimulates the engagement of customers.
  4. Key metrics are tied to accomplishing strategy and to serving key stakeholders.
  5. Being a good citizen is good business.

See column “Mind Your “Ps” and “Q’s”: Personal Learning at the Quest for Excellence.”


More Insights?

Based on word counts alone in these lists, what appear to be recurring, cross-sector themes over the past decade are a focus on (an organization’s) mission/vision/values, culture, innovation, transparency, engagement/relationships (with people in the workforce and customers), strategy, measurement/metrics, and community involvement/citizenship. What can other organizations learn from considering such themes in the role-model leadership of Baldrige Award recipients since 2010? I invite you to delve deeper into these themes, reading the columns for details.

If you have observations or insights to share, you are welcome to do so by posting a comment below. For further reference, see the online archive of all Insights columns to date.

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and current leader of the Education Team—a group of four who produce publications and communications and...

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