How have the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria helped one of the nation’s largest and most powerful nonprofit lobbying organizations to enhance its performance? Jo Ann Jenkins, chief operating officer of AARP, Inc., and past president of the AARP Foundation, participated in the Baldrige Executive Fellows program in 2012.
In the following interview, she shares key insights and results of her learning through the Fellows Program to use the Baldrige framework to boost leadership practices and her organization’s drive toward excellence.
- What are some of the drivers for your participation in the Baldrige Executive Fellows program? How did you learn of this program, and how do you think your participation has benefitted AARP?
I have always believed that the Baldrige Executive Fellows program is an opportunity for transformational growth—from both an organizational and a personal perspective. A colleague of mine was a former Baldrige Fellow, and my boss—the CEO of AARP (A. Barry Rand)—previously led an organization (Xerox) to become a two-time winner of the Baldrige Award. After I joined the AARP Foundation as president in 2010, they both encouraged me to participate in the program—and I’m glad that I pursued the opportunity.
As a Fellow, I was able to establish invaluable connections and garner insights into how other leading organizations—both private and public—are developing and implementing innovative, effective strategies in support of operational excellence and leadership development. In my current role as chief operating officer of AARP, I’ve been able to tap many of the other leaders in my cohort and draw on the diversity of perspectives and experiences they offer.
- What are some of your key learnings about the Baldrige Excellence Framework (which includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence) and organizations that have used this framework? How did your perceptions change (if applicable) as you learned more about Baldrige as a Fellow?
- Tell us about the latest improvement efforts at AARP; how has your organization been using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence?
- What do you see as key benefits of Baldrige?
Readers: If you are an aspiring or current C-level executive of an organization, consider the benefits of participating in the Baldrige Executive Fellows program. For more information and the annual deadline for applications, see the Baldrige website at www.nist.gov/baldrige/fellows.