1. Insights from Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award Recipients (Part 2)

    April 26, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited
    Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award recipient

    Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award recipient organizations and Commerce Department Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews watch the procession of the United States Joint Service Color Guard during the Baldrige Award Ceremony on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Dawn Marie Bailey

    Read the first part of this series that features 2014 Baldrige Award recipients PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice and St. David’s HealthCare.

    Award recipients during the leadership plenary of the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® Conference this week. Following are detailed highlights from those leadership presentations.

    Jayne Pope, CEO, Hill Country Memorial Hospital

    There is a tourist attraction just north of town—a large granite formation called Enchanted Rock. According to Jayne Pope, CEO of 2014 Baldrige Award winner Hill Country Memorial, that rock represents the history of the nonprofit, rural hospital in the hill country of Texas and its climb to serve its community, getting better and better year after year.

    “Any one of you who has made a climb knows that some of the most beautiful vistas are along the way,” she said. “We at Hill County Memorial have been able to turn, and we have seen some beautiful sights, some wonderful accomplishments. Yet, we can’t linger, because we know as leaders, the real work is what lies ahead. . . . Once you have committed to a climb . . . you are obligated to find the best, safest, most efficient road to the top. . . . We have integrated the Baldrige Criteria to help us get through our climb.”

    Pope said the independent, non-tax-supported hospital is the economic and civic backbone of its communities. Opened in 1971, community members literally collected coins in mason jars to start the hospital, with over 90 percent participating in the fund drive.

    Hill Country continues today as a center for caring and compassion, with every workforce member appreciating its “legacy of trust” with the community and demonstrating very impressive results:

    • distinction as a 100-top U.S. hospital four years in a row, five times in its history
    • number one in the nation for patient satisfaction
    • physician and employee satisfaction in the top decile

    Said Pope, “The Baldrige Criteria are what has propelled these results.”

    The hospital answered its community obligation not by thinking small but with “a powerful promise,” she said. Adopting the “proactive, innovative attitude of [its] founders,” the hospital redefined its mission in two words: “Remarkable Always,” with “remarkable” defined as performing in the top decile in America—and that’s across all hospitals, large and small, urban and rural, every hospital industry standard.

    Hill Country also lives by a motto, “keep it simple and remember what we are here for”: an aspirational and brief vision (“Empower others. Create healthy.”) and a measurable and clear mission.

    “Before we engaged with the Baldrige Criteria, we thought that we wanted to be the best community hospital anywhere,” Pope said. “And then we started to use the Baldrige Criteria, and we started to dream bigger. We thought about being the best hospital in the nation.”

    Pope shared leadership lessons that Hill Country has learned:

    • Developing services tailored for its “independent-natured” community in and outside the hospital, with services such as hospice, home health, a farmer’s market for healthy choices, community industries for free health screenings, and a wellness center.
    • Creating core competencies that differentiate the hospital in its industry and market and really living those competencies.
    • Building relationships with patients and staff. Pope said the role of a leader is to remove obstacles for team members so that they can go above and beyond to serve patients; “It’s my job as a leader to serve the people who serve the people.”
    • Integrating the values into everything that we do. Pope said patients know when staff are living the values, as evidenced through strong customer engagement results. As CEO, Pope personally screens physicians to ensure that their personal values align with the hospital’s values, and all team members are coached to ensure their work aligns with the values. “Not a day goes by at Hill Country Memorial when you will not hear, ‘How does that fit with our values?’” she said.
    • Being accountable to the mission. Pope defined the core competency of “execution” as really living the mission; setting a big picture goal, determining how to measure it, and monitoring it along the way. “As leaders, we believe we have the accountability to build a culture that we’re all on the same page, . . . so that’s we’re able to be working in sync.”
    • Being transparent. Pope said leaders share the desire to always get better for the sake of others. In a changing market, this is done by holding leaders accountable and ensuring transparency with the board, community, physicians, and workforce. “The leadership system is about doing right,” she said.

    In 2007, Pope said the hospital looked at where it performed against other top hospitals. “We weren’t great,” she said. “We recognized that we needed a framework to help get us to the top, so we chose the Baldrige framework. . . . Year after year after year, we got better, until now we’re in the top 1 percent in the nation.”

    In regards to the climb to always get better, Pope said, “We’re not perfect. We’re not at the summit. We have opportunities to learn. . . . .We can’t linger, our real work is ahead.”

    Gerry Agnes, CEO, Elevations Credit Union

    In 1953, 12 individuals at the University of Colorado contributed about $50 to a cash box; individuals making deposits at 2014 Baldrige Award winner Elevations Credit Union now number about 108,000.

    Defining a credit union as a nonprofit, financial cooperative, CEO Gerry Agnes said the community-based organization may be small but competes with some of the largest financial organizations in the world. That was one thing he said he learned from Baldrige: identify who you benchmark/compete against. Credit unions have about 6% of the market, but that does not mean they can’t compete “mightily,” he said.

    Agnes shared lessons he’s learned from leading the credit union on its Baldrige quality journey, which started in 2008 with the question, “Just how good are we?”

    Of course, the year was 2008, the midst of the financial crisis. Although one in four residents in Elevation’s primary market was a member of the credit union, capital wasn’t growing nearly as quickly as it was for competitors, neither was there significant growth for the credit union in members or assets.

    “Many people were asking us why would you spend financial capital and human resources to undertake [the challenge of adopting the Baldrige framework] in the middle of a crisis. And we thought to ourselves, we’re really at a fork in the road,” Agnes said. “If we take the wrong fork, we might end up in mediocrity. . . . We wanted to make sure we understood who we are, where we’re going, and how we are going to get there.”

    Agnes shared some of his leadership lessons:

    • Build your foundation with the core values and vision; ask how are you going to get there?
    • Make adopting the Baldrige framework about a journey to excellence not winning the award.
    • Create a safe environment to be honest. Citing the line “you can’t handle the truth” from the movie A Few Good Men, Agnes said he was reminded that “in organizations, truth is often really hard to handle. . . . If I had one goal to measure my success, it would be, have I created an environment with my team that is safe, where we can have brutally honest conversations about salient matters that will benefit our members, our employees, our community.”
    • Get input and buy-in from all employees and the board of directors. “At the end of the day, employees want to be seen, heard, and valued,” he said. “People were starting to see that we valued their input and actually took action on it. They realized it was safe to ask [difficult] questions. That enabled us to persevere.”
    • Acknowledge the “pain curve.” Agnes said the credit union thought it was doing pretty well, but then employees really started looking at the data and realized they may not be doing as well as they thought. “It’s quite remarkable that over time our perceptions and reality got closer and closer,” he said.
    • Celebrate victories, large and small. “Relish every one of them,” Agnes said. “Because if you celebrate with your team, you rejuvenate their spirits and keep that momentum going.”
    • Actively plan. Agnes said Elevations is very proud of its “operational rhythm,” which includes actively managing its strategic plan: “Our plan is not something that sits back and collects dust.”

    With honest conversations and a culture permeated by continuous improvement, Agnes said Elevation’s quality journey got some momentum, and the results were clear. By 2014, Elevations had seen 2 to 1 growth in capital, 6 to 1 growth in membership, and 2 to 1 growth in assets. This “stark contrast of results stemmed from the Baldrige framework,” he said.

    Member-centricity was our winning strategy, with fully engaged employees and a very loyal member base, Agnes said; the “financial results are the byproduct of employees serving our members and doing a great job.” He added, “My job as CEO is to turn this organization over to the next CEO in better shape than it is today, and through the Baldrige framework, we [will be] able to do that.”

  2. Insights from Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award Winners (Part 1)

    April 19, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited
    Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award recipient

    Leaders of 2014 Baldrige Award recipient organizations and Commerce Department Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews watch the procession of the United States Joint Service Color Guard during the Baldrige Award Ceremony on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Christine Schaefer

    “If we’re not getting better faster than our competitors, then we’re losing ground.” (Scott McIntyre, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Public Sector Practice [PSP] US Leader)

    “Values are really the culture of our organization.” (David Huffstutler, St. David’s HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer)

    “How we live [our organization’s core competencies] differentiates us in our industry and in our market.” (Jayne E. Pope, Hill Country Memorial Chief Executive Officer)

    “To make progress … we had to get to the source of truth. My measure of my own success as a leader: “Have I created a safe environment for my team to handle the truth?” (Gerry Agnes, Elevations Credit Union Chief Executive Officer)

    Those are some of the insights and lessons shared by senior leaders of the 2014 Baldrige

    Award recipients during the leadership plenary of the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® Conference this week. Following are detailed highlights from those leadership presentations.

    Scott McIntyre, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Public Sector Practice (PSP)

    PSP is one of six businesses within the broader financial services firm of PwC, one of the largest privately held organizations in the world operating in 157 countries, McIntyre explained. PSP operates globally and in the United States, and he has responsibility for its U.S. and overseas operations.

    From the start of his presentation, McIntyre spoke of his firm’s need to attract “great talent.” In doing so, he said, it seeks to build a business that is widely recognized as a top performer by third-party endorsements, which now include the Baldrige Award.

    “Being recognized … is very important to us because our brand is very important,” he said. “We were very fortunate to learn a few weeks ago that PwC’s brand at the global level is ranked number-two in the global brand health index.”

    According to McIntyre, the PSP organizational structure is designed to put the customer first and thus reflects “the investments we make in products and services and in people” to serve its clients’ unique needs.

    To realize its vision to be recognized as the public sector’s clear choice for driving effectiveness across federal agencies, the organization’s leadership focuses on three objectives, said McIntyre.

    One is building out a leadership capability. This includes understanding competitive dynamics, contemplating changes in the industry, and setting the tone and vision. The second is making sure it furnishes the tools to its employees to support its vision. And the third is grooming future leaders. Fulfilling those three objectives is his job, McIntyre said.

    He described the organization’s “leadership pipeline” as beginning with its annual intern event at a Disney amusement park. The experience emphasizes teamwork, collaboration, and sharing. “These are not just core values of our firm,” he added, “They’re core tenets of our leadership program.”

    McIntyre said one of the unique aspects of his organization’s leadership development program is its dual focus on grooming people to be effective leaders whether they stay with the organization or go on to other organizations—“whether they’re in PwC or [become] clients of PwC.”

    A second unique leadership practice of his organization, he said, is “the way we look at what we want to cultivate” in employees. Corporate efforts to develop leaders tend to focus on rewarding performance, he said, but his organization has learned that exclusively rewarding “performers” (those “who bring in money every day”) can drive away “producers” (those “people who produce big ideas … who are true visionaries”). To attract and retain people who can help the organization be competitive for the long term, McIntyre’s organization changed its leadership system to put more emphasis on supporting visionaries even as it maintains a focus on high-performing contributors to the organization’s current success.

    McIntyre also shared some of his organization’s learning and improvements as a result of its adoption of the Baldrige framework and process.

    “Using Baldrige to improve was, I think, one of the smartest things we did in our business,” he said. “It really gave us a touchstone, it really gave us an opportunity to learn about [how the Baldrige framework and criteria for excellence] could be adapted to our organization … and to constantly measure ourselves and evaluate how we’re doing.”

    For his organization, he explained, the process was about “taking an organization that was very successful in its marketplace and that’s growing very dramatically… and [making] changes.” Among those changes, the organization refined its core competencies last year. For example, he said the organization recognized that talent recruitment and development “had to be a core competency” for the firm to remain successful.

    Another change was to completely overhaul its strategic planning process. Clients’ ever-changing demands and competitive pressures made it necessary for the organization to be able to rapidly develop strategy on a situation-specific basis, he explained.

    David Huffstutler, St. David’s HealthCare

    One of the largest health systems in the state of Texas, St. David’s HealthCare encompasses six hospitals, four free-standing emergency departments, four urgent-care clinics, and six ambulatory surgery centers. It also is associated with 76 physician practices and affiliated with six hospitals in outlying areas. It is the third-largest employer in the Austin and central Texas area, with more than 7,400 employees, supported by nearly 2,000 physicians.

    St. David’s HealthCare has a unique business model as a joint venture partnership between the for-profit hospital management company HCA and two nonprofit community foundations, St. David’s Foundation and Georgetown Health Foundation. This partnership has been in place since 1996. “It’s really a very unique business model that’s been great for the community,” said Huffstutler. Beyond the capital and operating funds generated, surplus profits go to shareholders of the management company and to both local foundations, he said. In 2014 alone, they contributed $50 million to their communities, he added.

    The organization’s mission of providing exceptional care “is the basis of everything we do,” said Huffstutler. Four years ago, it set a vision to be the finest care and service organization in the world. While that vision is “clearly aspirational,” said Huffstutler, “we really wanted to reach for the brass ring.”

    The organization decided to adopt the Baldrige framework as a way “to really know whether we were getting better and … benchmark ourselves against organizations, not just in our industry but across industries,” said Huffstutler.

    “St. David’s HealthCare had not had a very sophisticated performance improvement methodology prior to this time,” he said. “We knew how to execute well, but we didn’t have a framework.” With the Baldrige approach, the organization gained “a disciplined and organized process to get better as an organization, external expertise, and someone who can give us feedback on where we’re going as an organization.”

    Since embracing the Baldrige improvement process, the organization learned to use the leadership system to take advantage of its core competencies: operating discipline, a culture of excellence, physician collaboration, and clinical expertise. For example, in recent years the organization has applied its operating discipline to prioritize opportunities to pursue, develop action plans, allocate resources, and track programs.

    He described the organization’s critical success factors as follows:

    1. Improve understanding of mission, vision, and values
    2. Communicate commitment to performance excellence
    3. “Expand the circle” (educating the workforce on why improvement is important and creating internal experts to help with improvement efforts)
    4. Ensure systemwide alignment in measurement and performance (making sure that departmental goals lined up to organization-level goals)

    A key success factor, Huffstutler emphasized, “is all about the culture of the organization—it’s all about believing in what you do, understanding that you’re involved in a higher purpose.” Therefore, his organization focuses on driving home its mission, vision, values, and goals through “activities around making sure our employees can understand those and recite those, but more important, be able to convey” them in their daily work.

    The organization’s performance dashboard reflects a balanced approach with measures in three areas: customer loyalty, exceptional care, and financial strength. “Making sure we’re good stewards” of resources is his organization’s responsibility to the community, Huffstutler said.

    Stressing the value of the continuous improvement process, he asserted that his organization has a responsibility to keep improving and that its patients expect it to do so: “We owe it to them, so we have to get better.”

    In the highly regulated health care industry, he added, the pursuit of excellence is also important because of both incentives and penalties tied to health care quality measures.

    Coming next: Insights from CEOs Jayne Pope of Hill Country Memorial and Gerry Agnes of Elevations Credit Union

  3. What Does it Mean to Win the Baldrige Award?

    January 8, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Dawn Bailey

    In a recent online video (above), Dr. Bill Neff, interim CEO and CMO at University of Colorado Health, for PVHS which 2008 Baldrige Award recipient Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS) is now part, shared PVHS’s journey to excellence. In 1997, it was a single hospital with a 24% annual employee turnover rate and five CEOs in four years; by 2008, it was a Baldrige Award winner. What happened?

    The Journey

    Dr. Neff, who was CMO at the time of the Baldrige Award, said that PVHS engaged over a 10–12-year period with the Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence in an effort to “get everybody running in the same direction.”

    In 1997, PVHS was in the midst of a changing health care market, but the largest challenge, said Neff, was the need for integration with very independent physicians. PVHS’s fifth CEO in four years had been working with several organizations using the Baldrige Health Care Criteria, and the hospital decided to give the Baldrige process a try.

    “If you participate in the process,” Neff said, “one of the first thing you have to decide is who the heck are you and what do you want to do. . . . The [Baldrige] Organizational Profile really makes you do an internal assessment of what you are trying to do, and if you are good, what would that look like. You need to measure, analyze, deploy best practices. Everybody has to be in close alignment.”

    Between 1996 and 2000, Neff said the hospital had really become pretty impressive, even being an early adopter of Magnet in the United States. Applying for a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, PVHS thought, “was a slam dunk.” But the feedback written by Baldrige examiners from PVHS’s first and second award applications let the hospital know that it might not be as good as it thought it was, he said.

    From 2004 to 2008, Neff said that PVHS embarked heavily in the Baldrige process, trying to figure out how to get better. This included submitting applications to the Baldrige-based state award Rocky Mountain Performance Excellence (a member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence) and receiving feedback reports.

    “In essence, we had to make [the Baldrige Criteria] the way we were doing our day-to-day work. It couldn’t be an application that we filled in at the end of the year. It couldn’t be about the award. It was about looking at all of those elements of the Criteria and talking about how are we really trying to be what we say we want to be and how do we ensure that is completely deployed across the entire organization,” Neff said.

    He added that it was especially important for Baldrige as a business model to be put into context for physicians; for example, PVHS conducted a Lean event that made patient processes more efficient and thus saved physicians time. The hospital had to translate the value of Baldrige into something that was real for the physicians.

    “Before [Baldrige], there was a tendency to go to where it’s easiest [to improve] and look right past or right over the areas where you’re weakest and need to improve the most,” he said. “The [Baldrige] process forced us to look in the mirror in those areas. Slowly, we started getting better.”

    One improvement started the day the PVHS board decided that the hospital would start measuring itself against top deciles, not just averages. “On that day, all of our scorecards went red,” Neff said.

    Between 2004 and 2008, PVHS received four Baldrige site visits—its applications scored high enough to send a team of Baldrige examiners to PVHS to take a closer look.

    During this site visit week, Neff said, “folks who really, really know performance excellence are there to look at you really hard and say this is who you say you are but this is who you look like to us. You spend a week with [Baldrige examiners] who are really sharp, pointing out where you are doing well but then asking why aren’t you doing it there, too.” Neff said the examiners “look under every hood.”

    In 2008, PVHS received the Baldrige Award, the nation’s highest honor for organizational performance excellence. “By the time we finally got to that point,” Neff said, “everybody thought that was really cool but what they really wanted was the feedback report. Because you kind of become addicted to that level of interaction with folks who are trying to help you get better.”

    Lessons Learned

    Treat physicians as partners, not competitors or customers. PVHS recognized that physicians needed to have input into strategic initiatives, the strategic plan, interdisciplinary teams, etc., but attendance at meetings needed to be as needed not mandatory. Physicians were also integrated into administrative leadership teams and given leadership development opportunities.

    “The biggest thing about physician engagement from the administrative side of the house,” Neff said, “they kept looking at physician engagement as how do we get them to see things our way, the trick is that at least 50% of the time it’s how do we get to see things their way.”

    For physicians, build a culture of engagement one step at a time, he said; show them the results, do what you said you would do, and follow up to show you did it. Encourage engaged physician leaders to engage other physicians.

    Constantly evaluate; performance excellence is not an instant fix. “We have a tendency to think that if we fix just one, two, three things then we’ll be close to perfect, and then we can move on to a different project. That was not our experience with performance excellence,” Neff said. “With performance excellence, it becomes your culture and . . . you are going to slowly get better. It might not be at lightning speed on some elements, but you’re better today that you were yesterday, and you’re going to be better tomorrow. You’ll get there. . . . Once you’ve hardwired your systems, you just continue to get better.”

    Look for partnerships. Once PVHS received the Baldrige Award, Neff said that finding partners was much easier, as Baldrige winners are proven to be high performing. In 2012, a joint operating agreement was signed between PVHS and the University of Colorado Hospital.

    “This is a testament to what you can accomplish with performance excellence,” Neff said. “Remember we were that single, little bitty hospital up in Ft. Collins. To be able to come to the table with an academic system and be able to talk about an equal partnership was something that we would not have imagined in the mid-1990s.”

    Other hospitals also have been added into the system under management agreements. Neff advises starting small and building trust with these new partners.

    Next Steps

    Neff said the next steps at University of Colorado Health are to build the whole system by integrating each category of the Criteria—implementing the performance improvement program across the entire system. He said this implementation is being done incrementally; for example, first excel at customer focus, then workforce focus, then a focus on quality metrics, etc.

    Neff said, “when [staff] tell me, I don’t know if we can do Baldrige, I can say, actually you’ve been doing it for a couple of years.”

  4. Awards Recognising Excellence in the Public Sector

    December 28, 2014 by BPIR.com Limited

    A recent workshop, 27-30 October 2014, organized by the Asian Productivity Organisation investigated the importance of awards for recognizing and sharing best practices. The purpose of the workshop was to assist National Productivity Organisations in designing relevant and effective awards that supported public sector organisations on the journey to business excellence in their respective countries. Representatives from 11 countries attended. The chief experts leading the workshop were Dr. Robin Mann, Director, Centre for Organizational Excellence Research, Massey University, New Zealand, www.coer.org.nz, and Dr. Stefania Senese, Officer, Governance and Public Administration, Division for Public Administration and Development Management, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, USA.


    Many awards were studied from APO member countries and internationally (see the spreadsheet for examples). These included awards for all aspects of business excellence including awards recognizing excellent performance in Leadership, Strategy, Human Resources, Processes, Customer Focus, Information Analysis, Innovation, Service Excellence, E-technology, and Partnerships and/or awards for specific sectors such as the health or education sector.

    Some of the issues investigated were:

    • What are the similarities and differences between the various awards for the public sector?
    • Which awards have been the most successful?
    • Why are some awards successful – what are the key ingredients for success?
    • Why are some awards not successful – what are the barriers or challenges that may hinder the impact of an award?

    Some of the benefits of awards were identified as:

    • Awards raise awareness of the importance of a subject
    • The award criteria can help to guide users on what is good practice
    • The award criteria can be used by organisations for self-assessment purposes
    • Awards motivate organisations to implement improvement initiatives
    • Winners of awards become role models
    • Award winner best practices can be shared
    • Communities of practice of award winners can be created

    Some of the concerns of awards were identified as:

    • Awards may become the destination and once achieved the organisation may revert back to their previous state
    • Organisations may focus too much attention on the award rather than on their business.
    • Awards can be expensive to administer
    • Awards if not administered effectively with an independent and fair judging process run the risk of losing their credibility.
    • Are awards the best approach to encourage organisational improvement or are there better approaches?

    The workshop enabled member countries to have a better understanding of the role of awards and how they can provide an integrated approach to assisting organisations on the journey to business excellence. For example, awards for each category of business excellence, as indicated in the Figure below, can provide the building blocks and support for an overall national award for business excellence.


    For more information on business excellence and awards, contact Dr Robin Mann, r.s.mann@massey.ac.nz or view over 500 award types and over 15,000 award winners and learn from their best practices by joining bpir.com.