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The Official Baldrige Blog

Inspiration in India Through a Focus on Performance Excellence

From left to right, Micky Roberts, Paul Grizzell, and JoAnn Sternke

From left to right, Micky Roberts, Paul Grizzell, and JoAnn Sternke

"Those that say it can't be done should get out of the way of those doing it."

That proverb has proven inspirational for three Baldrige practitioners who, at the invitation of the Quality Council of India (QCI) and ASQ India, recently traveled to the country to spread news of how the Baldrige framework can help address issues--even "stunningly important" ones, including dramatic population shifts that challenge the country's future.

At the 10th Annual Quality Conclave in Dehli, India, Paul Grizzell, president of Core Values Partners, Inc. and his daughter Ashleigh; JoAnn Sternke, superintendent of Baldrige Award-winning Pewaukee School District; and Micky Roberts, state director of performance management in the Office of Planning, Policy and Assessment with the Tennessee Department of Health, presented and hosted workshops on performance excellence with Indian leaders and regulatory and quality professionals.

Grizzell, who gave a keynote speech on moving from compliance to performance excellence, said that health care and education are “stunningly important issues in India,” which has 1.3 billion people, many of whom are very poor.

Based on feedback from attendees, Grizzell said they appreciated such thinking about a focus on excellence over compliance and also showed appreciation for the Baldrige Excellence Framework and what it can do for organizations of all sizes in all sectors. "If your organization focuses on  excellence and your competitors just focus on compliance, then that is where your organization gains a competitive advantage," he said.

But it was the hope that great challenges can be addressed and even overcome that Grizzell said

most inspired him. "That [proverb above], I think, really resonated with people. To say, 'Let’s get beyond thinking about just meeting regulatory requirements and "little q" quality. Let’s be thinking of what we can do to make significant change. Let’s not be limited by the way we have always done things.'”

India faces incredible challenges in providing basic services throughout the country and, given its size and the youthfulness of its population, is on target to be the most populous country in the world by 2020–2025.

“The scale of things is just enormous in India,” said Sternke. “With 1.3 billion people. The need to create close to a million jobs. The need for a framework is vital as [Indians] tackle the challenges that face their country. The Conclave's focus on ‘creating an ecosystem for world-class quality’ speaks to [participants'] desire to ‘connect the dots’ and find interconnectedness as they create a better future. How exciting is that? And I can think of no better framework to show alignment and connections than the Baldrige Excellence Framework.”

"What was most inspiring is this idea of people coming together and saying, 'What can we do in the quality community to help drive performance excellence to address some of the challenges that India faces?'" added Grizzell. “I walked away from India where there’s this extreme poverty like we have never seen over here. And walking away from those people who have hope for being able to address some of those significant challenges in that country makes things seem much more manageable [in the United States].”

Roberts echoed this sentiment. “The passion for quality was evident across the many different sectors and countries in attendance. One thing we could all agree on is that not investing in quality is more costly than taking the time and commitment to make quality improvement a part of the culture.”

Through presentations at the QCI Conclave and workshops sponsored by ASQ India, Grizzell, Sternke, and Roberts used the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria and Core Values as the foundation for helping Indian companies move toward excellence. Roberts and Sternke shared their firsthand experiences using the Baldrige framework in the U.S. education and health care sectors and the strong results they achieved.

“The fact is that no matter the size of your company, medical center, or service population, the Baldrige framework is scalable and will result in improvements that will enhance your value amongst your workforce and customers," said Roberts. "I was honored to share how a large health endeavor in Tennessee is able to take quality to scale from the smallest most rural clinic to the largest using the Baldrige framework.”

He added, “Making health care service delivery a continuous improvement process as opposed to a standards checklist seemed to resonate the most with health care practitioners in attendance." As a result of utilizing the Baldrige framework, Tennessee health care organizations have reduced clinic wait times and increased customer satisfaction, he said.

“The focus on creating jobs is a key challenge [for the country],” added Sternke; “Fifty-two percent of India's population is 25 or below. Clearly, education is a cornerstone of this focus.”

The workshops also helped participants identify which of the Baldrige Core Values were strengths and which were opportunities for improvement within participants’ organizations. Using a matrix, participants could see where in the Criteria they would find content to drive them towards improvement in those areas.

“To me, the messages of Baldrige, which start with the Core Values, are applicable to any organization in any country around the world," said Grizzell. "If I were to take the Baldrige Criteria themselves, I honestly could not think of anything off the top of my head that I would say that’s not going to be relevant [in another country]." Even in countries like China that are moving from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, Baldrige customer concepts and values are going to be extremely relevant, he added.

Grizzell’s keynote address counseled participants that the Baldrige framework is a “common language of performance excellence. And if an organization aspires to be represented by the foundational core values, then the Baldrige Criteria are the roadmap to help an organization reach that goal.”

Much discussion at the Conclave also focused on how to sustain growth. In India and China, small- to medium-sized enterprises are seeing the greatest growth potential, said Grizzell; "These are organizations that are saying, ‘I was started by an entrepreneur. I’m growing. What do I need to do to continue this growth?’ . . . The Criteria are such a great model to help [organizations manage growth]."

Sternke said the commitment to quality that she observed at the Conclave was “invigorating. . . . You can find a commitment to quality throughout the world. There was such heartfelt desire to employ quality principles to achieve excellence. Close to 2,000 people attended this Conclave, and all participants desired to be systematic in their pursuit of excellence.”

The mission of ASQ India is to help Indian companies stay abreast of international standards through stable quality systems and continuous quality improvements by offering a knowledge exchange and training and certification opportunities.

The mission of QCI is to lead a nationwide quality movement in India by involving all stakeholders in adherence to quality standards in all spheres of activities.

From left to right, JoAnn Sternke, Ashleigh Grizzell, Paul Grizzell, and Micky Roberts



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, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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I am very much in agreement with the thoughts.Indian Government need to focus on maintaining the quality in supply chain while serving the public goods. If there is least wastage there will be more productivity.People should know the art of saving instead of wasting.Poverty eradication will not be a very tough job if this quality aspect is incorporated in every part of the service supply chain.
Hi Excellence models are helpful if organisations, including Government, have basic quality aspects in place such as Quality control check points, customer focus, leadership committed to Quality..... Govt. of India first needs to provide leadership for Quality....and provide basic amenities to its millions of people improving....orderliness, cleanliness, customer service.....let them first do basic stuff right.....all this talk about Excellence is nothing but another India....
Sunil, I understand and assure you that this was a topic of conversation throughout the QCI Conference. But it was interesting to hear many organizations speak of being able to make progress in addressing some of the challenges that you address. One of the most inspirational talks at the conference was by a leading cardiac surgeon in India who spoke about what needed to be done about providing health care to all citizens in India, including providing cardiac care to those who have few resources to pay. Ideas were advanced that were innovative, and addressed the specific challenges of India, including the challenge of the bureaucracy of Indian government. What was most satisfying for me was the fact that quality practitioners recognized the challenges, but most clapped at the phrase "Those of you who say it can't be done, get out of the way of the people who are doing it." Instead of excuses, these people were determined to find ways to make progress. Is it a challenge to do things in an excellent manner in India? No doubt, and the challenges are huge. In the US, the government also has bureaucracy, but organizations, whether large or small, continue to find innovative ways to provide services and products. I saw the same in India for the organizations that received quality awards from QCI.
As a person who happens to work in the government sector I agree we must get the basics right. However I have learned that our basic work processes (services for the people) will never get better, meaning we will never learn from our mistakes and or improve our services if we are not intentional about striving to get better and better or aim for excellence in terms of customer satisfaction.

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