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The Official Baldrige Blog

Quest Questioning: A Unique Way to Learn at the 32nd Quest for Excellence Conference

A group of people networking on a video call for the Quest Conference.
Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

I have always been taught to ask questions in order to learn. The answers to our questions provide the personal insights we can use to improve our own and our organizations' behaviors, strategies, practices, and results. The 32nd Quest for Excellence conference on April 12th—15th will provide unique opportunities to ask and learn. Dawn Bailey, in an earlier blog, described the format for this year's virtual and more-accessible conference. I want to share the opportunities you will have to get your questions answered.

Plenary Sessions

The plenary sessions on Tuesday and Thursday will feature 11 Baldrige Award recipients (six from 2019 and five from 2020). The latter part of each of these plenary sessions will include a moderated Q&A period.

Wednesday Is Networking Day

The agenda for Wednesday will be very different from past Quest conferences. There will be 80 different sessions available, most featuring one of the 11 recipients talking about their processes and results for each of the Baldrige Criteria categories (Leadership through Operations). In addition, there will be some sessions featuring a prior recipient speaking about a topic of current importance to organizational performance. All these sessions will be on-demand and will continue to be available until June 15th.

The more important part of Wednesday, from the perspective of this blog, is a series of networking sessions with the Award recipients. These sessions, each generally organized by sector (health care, education, business, nonprofit, government), will feature the 2019 and 2020 recipients as well as former recipients. The government session will include Stephanie Norling, to answer questions about community-wide use of Baldrige-based criteria and about the Communities of Excellence 2026 collaboratives. The sessions will be an informal way for attendees to interact with the Award Recipients and ask questions. Each session will be moderated by one of the Award recipients featured in the session.

Consider having members of your organization attend networking sessions from other sectors, not just your own. Frequently the best learning is achieved through adapting role model practices from another sector.

What might you ask at these networking sessions:

  • how role model practices you heard in a presentation might be adapted for an organization of your size
  • how Baldrige Award Recipient organizations decided where to begin their performance excellence journeys
  • how they dealt with peaks and valleys in their rate of performance improvement
  • how Award Recipients used their Alliance for Performance Excellence program to get started on their performance improvement journey

I believe equally important to asking questions is listening to the questions others ask. Not only might the answers help your organization, but the questions give you information about the challenges other organizations face that might help you better understand your own organization's progress and opportunities. Over the years, I have frequently heard someone else's question and said to myself, "Why didn't I realize that?" or, "That probably explains what I observe in my own organization."

 Register Before It Is Too Late

The Quest conference registration ends April 8th, 2021. Register today! And I hope to "see" you there!

Join us for our first-ever virtual conference! 

The Quest for Excellence Conference April 3-6, 2022 - 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! 

Quest Registration Closes:  April 8, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. ET

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

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