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The Official Baldrige Blog

MESA: A Most Excellent Quest Continues

MESA 2020 Baldrige Award Recipient in Small Business employee working steel pipelines to prevent corrosion.
Credit: MESA
Photo of Baldrige Crystal and Medallion.
Crystal Manufactured by Pelucida Glass LLC

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 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.

Kelsey May, Director of Support Services, for MESA, the first three-time recipient of the Baldrige Award, offered these thoughts about the small business’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?

MESA began following the Baldrige Excellence Framework almost twenty years ago, so we’ve been engaged in the process for quite some time. We inherently understood the need to improve and perform work systematically in order to achieve long-term sustainability. The Baldrige Framework fit with what we seemed to be doing already—taking care of our team, building relationships with our customers, and creating processes for execution. In that sense, it was fairly intuitive to apply the Baldrige Framework to our processes. It was an approach that made sense for us without being prescriptive or cumbersome.

Why did you stay involved?

We have shaped our practices over the years to better align with the Baldrige Framework. Because of that, Baldrige isn’t necessarily something we “do”--it’s built into the way we manage our organization. Continuing to follow the Baldrige Framework was an easy decision since we built a structure that aligned with those concepts.

The application and site visit process became like a check-up to ensure strong organizational alignment and health. And we’ve seen results that are hard to argue with--we are a much different organization now than we were when we started.

How did the Baldrige Framework help during the pandemic in 2020?

Having a guiding framework allows us to view our own organizational strengths and weaknesses in a more objective way. Our 2019 feedback report contained valuable insights that became improvements, which—fortuitously—helped us navigate this past year a little easier. For example, our feedback report suggested we could improve our communications with remote and field employees, which we did. And those lines of communication proved vital in keeping our teams informed.

What quest is your organization on?


Join us for our first-ever virtual conference! 

Quest for Excellence Conference April 12-15, 2021 - Register Today!

Quest for Excellence® Conference

Monday, April 12–Thursday, April 15, 2021

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!

Register Today! 


About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies...

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