Inscribed on the Baldrige Award medallion are the words “The Quest for Excellence.” Besides being the name of the Baldrige national conference that highlights winning organizations, those words have real meaning.
Organizations that use the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria—whether for self-assessment or to apply for an award at state/local or national levels—are on true quests.
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a quest as an "act of seeking," in this case excellence. ("Quest" is also "a chivalrous enterprise in medieval romance usually involving an adventurous journey," but that is a different blog.) Oxford Dictionary defines quest as "a search for something." I also found this definition in an academic resource: "an exciting search involving an adventurous journey."
I asked the 2019 and 2020 Baldrige Award recipients what caused them to embark on their own quests for excellence, and how such quests helped them in the year 2020.
Brian Dieter, President and CEO, for Mary Greeley Medical Center, 2019 Baldrige Award recipient, offered these thoughts about his health care organization’s quest for excellence.
Why did your organization get engaged in the Baldrige Excellence Framework (i.e., Baldrige Criteria)? In other words, what was the hook?
In 2008, Mary Greeley Medical Center began looking for a system of evidence-based quality principals. The Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) provided robust checks and balances for our financial processes. As a health care organization, we felt it imperative to have the same checks and balances for quality and safety.
From the start, we decided our process to document performance improvement would be a long-term priority and not simply an annual goal. We knew we needed to adopt principals that became the way we do our work, not just a new project to roll out. During a presentation on the Baldrige Framework at an American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) annual conference, we realized that we had found what we were looking for. It was the beginning of a legacy for Mary Greeley.
Adopting a tactic from two-time Baldrige Award recipient MidwayUSA, we made the decision to expose as many departments as possible to the Baldrige Criteria by enrolling leadership and staff as examiners in our state’s Baldrige-based program, the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence (IRPE), and later on the Board of Examiners for the national program.
Having staff as examiners provided us with exposure to organizations striving to radically improve. It also provided us with opportunities to learn best practices from both the health care and non-health care sectors.
Why did you stay involved?
We never looked at Baldrige as an award. The systematic nature of the Baldrige process (application submission, site visit, feedback report) has evolved to be our organizational excellence checks and balances and has allowed us to sustain top-decile performance in our key metrics. The Baldrige Framework has become so ingrained in Mary Greeley’s culture that we continue to submit annual applications to the state program, regardless of award eligibility.
How did the Baldrige Framework help during the pandemic in 2020?
We know our commitment to the Baldrige Framework allowed us to systematically plan and prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, all while exceeding our customer expectations and maintaining strong operations.
Our decade of experience with the framework supported everything from communicating ongoing COVID plans, both internally and externally, to engaging our customers in supporting rapid changes to visitor restrictions.
What quest is your organization on?
The three-day virtual showcase will feature the 2019 and 2020 Award recipients, former recipients, pre-conference workshops, senior leader plenary sessions with live Q&A, more than 70+ on-demand concurrent sessions, conference keynote, and more!
Quest Registration Closes: April 8, 2021