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The Official Baldrige Blog

Illustration of a person's head showing their brain having a bright idea

I recently had the privilege of attending the 12th Annual Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Conference. There were many excellent presentations by recent Baldrige and MAPPE Award recipients. Through a coincidence of scheduling two Baldrige Award recipients spoke in successive plenary sessions, one in the evening and the next as the plenary speaker the following morning. The speakers were 2016 Baldrige Award recipients Greg Haralson from Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital and Maryruth Butler from Kindred Nursing & Rehabilitation.

Each of them shared simple questions used in their respective organizations to spur thinking about personal and organizational improvement and innovation. I realized that combining their three questions provided a powerful set for all organizations to use in their performance improvement efforts. The three questions:

What If?  Why Not Us?  Why Not Me?

I began to think about the power of these three questions as a mantra to preface discussions of process change and improvement, strategic planning, employee engagement, and, in general, for any brainstorming session. They could also become a powerful motivator in new employee on-boarding sessions, followed by some examples of exciting past achievements in the organization. What an approach to quickly energizing new employees!

I also thought about using these three questions as motivators before answering questions in the Baldrige Excellence Builder (that are also key questions in the Baldrige Criteria). To cite a few examples, consider them as preambles to: 1.1(4) How do senior leaders’ actions create an environment for success now and in the future?; 2.1(2) How does your strategy development process stimulate and incorporate innovation?; 3.1(1) How do you determine product offerings?; and, 5.2(1) How do you foster an organizational culture that is characterized by open communication, high performance, and an engaged workforce?

I had actually heard these three questions before in sessions at the Baldrige Quest for Excellence conference in April 2017. I had even included the questions in different sections of my Insights column on my key learnings from the April conference. However, I must thank the MAAPE for the serendipity of bring these speakers together and allowing me to associate these questions into my new mantra!

And speaking of the Baldrige Quest for Excellence conference , the 2017 award recipients were recently announced. They will be presenting their performance excellence successes at the 30th Anniversary Quest for Excellence Conference, April 8-11, 2018.  Come hear the newest Baldrige winners and celebrate the Program’s 30th anniversary. I look forward to seeing you there. Until then, keep asking: What If?  Why Not Us?  Why Not Me?” 


Quest for Excellence® Conference

BALTIMORE | April 8–11, 2018
Join us for the 30th Anniversary Quest for Excellence Conference showcasing the best practices of the 2017 Baldrige Award recipients!


Sunday, April 8
Join us Sunday evening for the Award Ceremony and Dinner honoring the 2017 recipients.

Register Now | Book Your Hotel Room

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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