1. What you can learn from a Baldrige award-winning credit union

    October 10, 2018 by BPIR.com Limited

    Originally posted by Christine Schaefer on Blogrige

    Four years ago, Elevations Credit Union (ECU) became the first nonprofit financial services organization to win a Baldrige Award. According to ECU Senior Vice President of Analytics & Innovation Pete Reicks, the Boulder, CO-based, organization began its “journey to align and integrate the organization to the Baldrige Excellence Framework” in 2009.

    “The journey has not been easy—nothing of excellence ever is,” said Reicks recently. Such a quest “rarely follows straight lines and requires everyone to participate. But it is nothing short of culture-changing, in an amazing and rewarding way.”

    At the Baldrige Program’s annual Quest for Excellence® Conference in April, Reicks will present in detail how ECU has used the Baldrige Excellence Framework (which includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence) to surmount challenges and achieve strong performance results year over year. In our latest exchange (shared below), Reicks discussed the upcoming presentation and his thoughts and tips for other organizations on using the Baldrige framework.

    Please briefly describe what attendees will learn at your upcoming conference session.
    The presentation shares the story of our Baldrige journey and the learning acquired along the way, which I hope will be useful to others who are on their own journey. Our learning is shared through three key themes: Head, Gut, and Heart. The Baldrige journey was definitely intellectually (Head) challenging as we evaluated our answers to the Criteria questions through the power of the framework using ADLI [approach, deployment, learning, and integration—the Baldrige process evaluation factors] and LeTCI [levels, trends, comparisons, and integration—the Baldrige results evaluation factors].

    Our sense of what’s truly possible and how we could realistically pursue it (Gut) was consistently challenged as the organization progressed through the annual [Baldrige Award] application, examination, and review of our strengths and OFI [opportunities for improvement] feedback. Most important, our purpose, commitment, and energy (Heart) were reaffirmed as our workforce, members, and stakeholders realized the value brought from the journey.

    What are some examples of how your organization has benefitted from your ongoing journey?

    • Sustained top decile results in our workforce engagement survey results for key areas, such as responses to the survey item “I understand how my job contributes to this organization’s success.”
    • Sustained beneficial trends in results for key growth outcome measures, with performance at benchmark leadership levels within our peer group of comparison organizations in our industry
    • Enterprise-wide adoption of business process management (BPM) drives a systems-thinking, process-centric culture promoting fact-based decision making, learning, continuous improvement, and innovation

    What are your top tips for introducing or sustaining use of the Baldrige framework to promote an organization’s success?

    1. Start with the Organizational Profile. Doing this was highly revealing for our organization! We found when putting what we thought we knew into writing that we either didn’t have agreement or that we really hadn’t thought deeply about who our true competitors were, what our core competencies were, strategic advantages, challenges, etc. We actually spent the bulk of a year as a senior leadership team hashing this out, which proved invaluable to answering the Criteria questions in the process categories (1–6).
    2. Get a Baldrige coach. Being wrapped up in daily operations and being an insider within your own team makes it hugely difficult to (1) maintain perspective around both your strengths and OFIs, which causes you to think you are moving too slow or too fast when you might be doing the opposite; and (2) find that some of the topics you need to openly debate with your team are just too difficult/sensitive to have an insider facilitate, perhaps because you are already biased (it’s hard not to be). A lot of the conversations a Baldrige self-assessment may prompt among the leadership team do not involve emotion-free, mechanical decisions but, rather, sometimes emotionally charged, philosophical or ideological decisions that determine or otherwise affect your culture (e.g., affecting mission, vision, values, and core competencies).
    3. Leverage your state-level or regional Baldrige program (if your state doesn’t have one, pick one of the others in the Alliance for Performance Excellence). Send your key folks to be an examiner. Submit a [Baldrige Criteria-based] award application, and have a team come to your site, interview your folks, look at your results, and give you a feedback report, which will likely reinforce what you already know and maybe expose a few blind spots for you to consider. Then, repeat.
    4. “Steal” (best practices) “shamelessly” from others who have been on the journey. The Baldrige Award recipient application summaries on the BPEP website are great. I found my favorites and went to them repeatedly when I became stuck in working on our own Baldrige Award application; a bunch of our organization’s materials can be found on our website, too.
    5. Frame your organization’s Baldrige journey as being about “how” to make what you’re already doing better, rather than conveying it as additional or different work. Your team may already be asking and answering all the questions in the Criteria but just not doing so as explicitly and systematically as the Baldrige framework and Criteria allow (that is, with ADLI and LeTCI answers to the Criteria questions organized within a framework that requires systems thinking versus functional/department-centric thinking).

    What do you view as key reasons or ways that organizations in your sector can benefit from using the Baldrige framework?
    The key reason is to achieve sustained performance excellence. This results from focused, mission-driven individuals operating as a team, using aligned and integrated work processes to create ever-increasing value for customers (as measured through the balance of several lenses) to achieve a meaningful organizational vision.

    What is your “elevator pitch” about the Baldrige framework and organizational assessment approach? In other words, what would you say to a group of senior leaders in your sector who are unfamiliar with the Baldrige framework if you had 1-2 minutes to tell them something about it?
    I would say, “The Baldrige Criteria are the questions the best organizations are not only asking themselves, but also are purposefully answering with rigor, consistency, outside scrutiny, and an eye for innovation.”

    Similarly, what would you say to a group of college business students about the Baldrige framework?
    College exposes you to a wealth of understanding and demonstrates your competency in a domain of knowledge via your chosen degree. The Baldrige framework and examination process provides the vehicle by which all the hard skills (domain knowledge) and soft skills (human and organizational behavior) come together. While many have been exposed to a capstone simulation in a master’s degree of business administration (MBA) program of studies, the realities of working within an organization assigned to a department or function often don’t translate well. But Baldrige helps bring the capstone simulation to reality for everyone within an organization, bringing both the zoom-out macro-level understanding of decisions’ causes and effects as well as the daily zoom-in optimization of the individual pieces of the whole.

    When did you first hear about the Baldrige framework? What were your initial thoughts or “aha” moments as you began learning about it?
    In 2008, our CEO asked us to start evaluating whether to use the Baldrige framework. Initially, I thought it was another tool to be compared to others such as Lean Six Sigma. Gradually, I realized it was the toolbox by which all other tools are aligned and integrated in their use and evaluation.

    How did you and your colleagues first react or feel after learning your organization would receive the Baldrige Award?
    We were honored, yet felt very humble. Winning the Baldrige Award brings a clear understanding about how much opportunity for improvement still exists and is actually possible. We are proud of what we accomplished, yet keenly aware of how much more we need, want, and are eager to do to improve our organization.

    How has your perception of the Baldrige community changed since your organization became a Baldrige Award recipient?
    We have gained a greater appreciation for how earnest those in the Baldrige community are. Those who find their way to and stick with this kind of journey do it because they are purpose-driven and seek to create value that is both meaningful and lasting for the good of the people they serve.


  2. Paper reveals how Baldrige helped a small business in a short time

    by BPIR.com Limited


    Originally posted by Dawn Bailey on Blogrige

    Recently, a Baldrige alumnus examiner set out to document what Baldrige could do for a small business in just 18 months. According to the metrics, the answer is quite a lot.

    Denis Leonard recently interviewed the CEO and key staff of a real manufacturing small business of 100 people and gathered data on how they used Baldrige. The company wanted to remain anonymous, so, for the purpose of a paper written by Leonard, the company was called ProCo. The paper, written for the ASQ Organizational Excellence Technical Committee, was intended to show how Baldrige resources could have an impact in a short period of time and how Baldrige implementation can flow from strategy down to operational activities. Leonard’s paper was published in The Quality Management Forum (Fall 2017, Vol. 43, No. 3) [download Fall 2017 edition], a peer-reviewed journal of the Quality Management Division of ASQ.

    According to Leonard, prior to its use of Baldrige resources, ProCo had poorly coordinated efforts in terms of customer and employee satisfaction, cycle time reduction, defect reduction, and process improvement. The Baldrige framework and its Criteria provided a framework to organize and prioritize ProCo’s efforts and align those efforts with its strategy.

    Guided by the Baldrige Criteria, ProCo’s efforts included training and awareness of the Baldrige Criteria by the entire management team, organizational and team self-assessments using the Criteria, employee surveys, strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats (SWOT) analysis, and use of “the Baldrige Criteria at the heart of the organizational strategy formation.” Strategic planning became focused on the identification and assignment of strategic objectives, action plans, timelines, and strategic goals that could be linked to employees, so that they could better understand their connections to the organization’s mission, vision, strategic drivers, and goals. In addition, ProCo’s efforts included listening to employees through their involvement in the strategic planning process, surveys, and sharing.

    “Self-assessment, strategic planning and improvement teams and their impact became a proven cycle for employees that they were being listened to [and] allowed to participate, and they saw the impact because of their efforts. It allowed them to make a difference in their workplace. For this reason, [the Baldrige implementation] was embraced enthusiastically.”

    As part of Baldrige implementation, the Baldrige Criteria were aligned with other quality tools, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, Six Sigma DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) methodology, value stream mapping, process mapping, Kaizen blitz, failure modes effects analysis, and 5S. Cross-functional improvement teams also completed projects that were aligned with strategic objectives.

    For ProCo, improvements came from several Baldrige-inspired improvement projects that lasted 18 months, and key metrics were improved:

    • Reduced cycle time by 15%
    • Reduced defects by 50%
    • Reduced warranty costs by 75%
    • Increased customer satisfaction to 97%

    According to Leonard, the point of the “short, simple paper” was to show “how Baldrige could be used and impact achieved in a short time frame.”

    So, what could Baldrige do for your organization?


  3. Baldrige award-winning university breaks ground (again) with benchmarking project

    October 4, 2018 by BPIR.com Limited


    By Jennanelson02 [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Christine Schaefer

    An assistant chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout—a Baldrige Award recipient—helped develop a national benchmarking project that will soon provide comparative data for the nation’s universities to better measure their performance.The project will involve collecting data for performance measures of nonacademic support units within four-year, post-secondary education institutions in the United States. Meridith Wentz, who directs UW-Stout’s office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality (PARQ), is playing a leading role in the effort in partnership with the National Higher Education Benchmarking Institute (NHEBI) at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Overland Park, Kansas.

    JCCC Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Research John Clayton, who oversees the NHEBI, recently conveyed that he is excited by the prospect of the partnership with UW-Stout. “The Benchmarking Institute has provided this kind of data to the two-year college sector for 15 years,” he said. “Since 2004, over 400 two-year colleges have relied on us to provide comparative data on many key indicators to improve efficiency, institutional effectiveness, and student outcomes.”

    Wentz, who is also a senior Baldrige examiner, has overseen several other ground-breaking improvement efforts at her university in recent years. One example, is UW-Stout’s annual “You Said, We Did” institutional improvements based on faculty and staff input.

    “She described the new benchmarking project as “another example of how the Baldrige program has helped [our university] grow and improve.”

    Project Scope and Measures
    Asked how many other universities will be involved in the benchmarking project, Wentz responded, “For the first year [the university’s fiscal year 2019, which begins this fall], we’re targeting 25 to 50 other four-year universities. The long-term goal is to involve over 300 institutions per year.” She added that the NHEBI previously launched a similar initiative involving two-year colleges that has “consistently had 250 colleges per year” reporting data.

    Wentz provided two examples of standard measures for the project, as follows:

    • Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) allocated to the work of a support unit within a university. Data for this measure will be split between centralized and decentralized staff members, she explained, given that (beyond staff members working full-time in such a unit) universities often have some personnel based in other administrative units on campus who help support the work of centralized units.
    • Budget allocated to the work of a support unit, split by personnel and non-personnel and by centralized and decentralized

    The project also will collect data for outcome metrics, she said, citing as an example the retention rate of faculty and staff members as a measure associated with a university’s Human Resources office.

    Project Phases
    As stated in a recent UW-Stout news story, Wentz said a stimulus for the project was the “need to make our [internal] review process more meaningful using benchmarking data.” Faced with a lack of comparative results to provide context for her office’s performance measurements of UW-Stout support units, Wentz decided to help develop such data. “We wanted to provide more meaningful data for continuous improvement,” she said.

    Wentz and her PARQ colleagues Frank Oakgrove and Elena Carroll are currently developing metrics for the NHEBI project, to be refined based on input from a national advisory board. Data collection for the project will be launched in early November, and the plan is to have results available for use by other universities by mid-February, according to Wentz.


  4. The Baldrige Framework is Borderless!

    September 23, 2018 by BPIR.com Limited

    Originally posted by Christine Schaefer on Blogrige

    A University President Shares His Baldrige Expertise Internationally
    Luis Calingo is a longtime Baldrige examiner who has led universities in both the United States and Asia. Dr. Calingo has participated regularly over two decades in the Baldrige Award process to help U.S. organizations improve their performance for long-term success. He also has lent his Baldrige examiner expertise to support international excellence programs that are based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework, including those in the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. “The Baldrige framework is borderless!” Calingo observed recently.

    Calingo is currently completing the third year of a five-year presidency at Holy Angel University, located in the Philippines. He has proudly reported that his university adopted the Baldrige Excellence Framework, including the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence, “as our roadmap to quality and excellence.” Under his leadership, the university participated in the tiered, Baldrige-based Philippine Quality Award (PQA) process in 2016. Through the process, Calingo’s university earned recognition for proficiency in quality management—the only applicant so honored that year. A news release described the national award as follows:

    Known as the gold standard for quality and business excellence, the Philippine Quality Award honors the exemplary efforts of organizations in both the private and public sectors in the pursuit of world-class performance excellence. The President of the Philippines presents the Award annually to Philippine organizations. … It is equivalent to the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the United States and other National Quality Awards worldwide.

    To share Calingo’s insights on his extensive experiences using the Baldrige framework to support excellence in higher education, I recently interviewed him, as follows.

    Would you please describe how you first became interested in becoming a Baldrige examiner?
    I first heard about the Baldrige Award in 1991 when the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)—the main business accreditation body at that time—adopted Total Quality Management as the theme of its conferences. A subsequent consultancy engagement that required me to perform a comprehensive organizational diagnosis of a school district led me to the Baldrige Award’s Criteria for Performance Excellence [part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework]. A couple of years later, I accepted a professorial appointment at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, during which time I served on the technical working group for Singapore’s National Quality Strategy and as an assessor (examiner) for the newly launched Singapore Quality Award. Upon my return to the United States, I applied for and received my first assignment as Baldrige examiner in 1997.

    Calingo (center, holding a Baldrige framework booklet) and group of assessors (examiners) for the Philippine Quality Award.

    Calingo (center, holding a Baldrige framework booklet) and group of assessors (examiners) for the Philippine Quality Award.

    What were your impressions and highlights of your first Baldrige examiner training class (the Examiner Preparation Course), and what have been highlights for you of annual examiner training in subsequent years?

    I recall being intimidated by the prework instructions, which required us to prepare a complete Independent Review Scorebook, using as our only guide the sample “Model Scorebook” from a prior year’s case study. At that time, the only evaluation dimensions we learned were Approach/Deployment/Results. [The dimensions today encompass Approach/Deployment/Learning/Integration for evaluating processes and Levels/Trends/Comparisons/Integration for evaluating results.]

    During the training itself, I immediately felt I was in the company of really bright and insightful folks who had also been very helpful to “newbies” like me. The succeeding years of examiner training saw many demonstrations of continuous improvement, with emphases seemingly rotating among understanding the Criteria and Scoring Guidelines, emphasizing the role of key factors, going back and forth in emphasis between scoring by dimensions and scoring holistically, and achieving some standardization in item evaluation (ergo, the six-step process). The Baldrige Program has practiced what it has preached.

    Would you please share some memorable learning experiences you’ve had as an examiner on evaluation teams during the Baldrige Award process?

    The most memorable learning experience I’ve had as an examiner has been serving as a mentor to new examiners or an internal coach to new team leaders [for the Consensus Review phase of the award process]. The lesson I learned is that my effectiveness as a mentor or as a coach is not determined so much by my ability to answer the newbie’s questions as by my ability to bring out the best in each examiner and cultivate the inquisitive nature of the examiner by having him or her ask the “right” questions.

    How do your family members and colleagues view your service as a Baldrige examiner?

    Naturally, my family has viewed my service as a Baldrige examiner as a major time commitment, and I am truly grateful to them for their support and understanding. At the same time, my family and my colleagues view my participation as a Baldrige examiner as an important form of national service, which helps bring organizations to higher levels of competitiveness, distinctiveness, and excellence. I extended my Baldrige outreach when the Asian Productivity Organization sent me as a technical expert to help seven of its member countries establish their own Baldrige-based national quality award programs.

    Calingo stands with leaders of evaluation teams for the Thailand Quality Award.

    Calingo stands with leaders of evaluation teams for the Thailand Quality Award.

    How have you applied learning from your service as a Baldrige examiner in your leadership positions in colleges in the United States and the Philippines?

    Knowledge of good practices from Baldrige Award-winning organizations, particularly education organizations, has added to my repertoire of approaches for both “running the business” and “changing the business” of higher education institutions both in the United States and the Philippines. In fact, I have led a business school and a university to participate in Baldrige-based quality award programs, resulting in appropriate recognition and the organization-wide motivation that such recognition created. Articulating a leadership system, anticipating blind spots in strategic planning, and designing a comprehensive performance management system are competencies that I would not have acquired were it not for my service as a Baldrige examiner.

    What is your view of the value of the Baldrige framework to postsecondary education organizations?

    Higher education institutions have long valued quality assurance. Whenever they speak of external quality assurance, they often refer to the voluntary peer-review-based accreditation processes performed by regional institutional accreditors (e.g., WASC) and specialized program accreditors (e.g., AACSB). The Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence, whether applied at the whole institutional or college levels, provides the organization with a comprehensive approach involving multiple stakeholders to prepare for those accreditation reviews.

    I foresee greater alignment between the Baldrige education framework and the organizational standards for accreditation of higher education institutions and programs. Such a system already exists in Thailand, where colleges and universities voluntarily participate in a government-sponsored, voluntary, Baldrige-based self-assessment program called EdPEx 200. EdPEx 200 participants that achieve a certain score, validated after a site visit review, would be exempted from annual government reporting requirements for a predetermined period.


  5. The promise of the Baldrige Framework for nursing home excellence

    September 7, 2018 by BPIR.com Limited

    Originally posted by Christine Schaefer on Blogrige

    I’ve spent a significant amount of time as an adult visiting people in nursing homes (also known as long-term and post-acute care facilities, or nursing care centers). The practice started when I was in college and joined a student-run volunteer program. I was first paired with a blind, wheelchair-bound resident of a nursing care center. At 96, she was still an avid reader, so I mainly spent our visits reading poetry aloud to her and facilitating her use of audio books. Over the following decade in other cities and counties, I continued to provide occasional company for lonely, usually elderly residents in similar facilities as a community volunteer. Eventually, my dog became my more-popular partner for many of those visits.

    After a hiatus in such volunteer work for a few years while I juggled the demands of growing children and my career, I resumed visiting senior citizens in nursing care centers about five years ago. By then, the residents I came to see were my own mother-in-law, followed by my father. At that time, I appreciated from personal experience the favorable impact of the Baldrige Excellence Framework (which includes the Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence) in promoting excellence in U.S. nursing care centers.

    Aunt B and Christine Schaefer during an August 2018 visit, Credit: Christine Schaefer

    These days, I have another elderly family member to visit in such a place. She’s an aunt of mine who doesn’t have children but has always had me. She first entered a “rehabilitation and health” center to recover from surgery after an injurious fall. Her condition continues to require a level of care beyond what we can provide in her previous home. Although I visit her regularly to support her needs—including that of knowing she has a family advocate no matter where she lives or whether her health further declines—I have reason to believe she would receive good care regardless of my monitoring. Besides other quality indicators I’ve observed first-hand or checked online in publicly reported data, her facility has earned recognition in the Baldrige-based, continuous-improvement program of the American Health Care Association (AHCA)/National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL).

    The AHCA/NCAL award program belongs to the nonprofit Alliance for Performance Excellence—a nationwide network of state, regional, and sector-specific Baldrige-based award programs and a key partner of the federal Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. Using the Baldrige Health Criteria for Performance Excellence as the basis for organizational assessments, the AHCA/NCAL program offers three tiers of recognition annually for participating organizations that provide long-term and post-acute care services in the United States. Those progressive award levels are Bronze (“Commitment to Quality”), Silver (“Achievement in Quality”), and Gold (“Excellence in Quality”).

    Since 2004, 38 organizations throughout the United States have earned the third level of recognition in the AHCA/NCAL award program. They include four 2018 Gold Award recipients that were announced in early August. Each is now eligible for five years to apply for the Baldrige Award—the nation’s highest and only Presidential honor for organizational excellence in U.S. business, nonprofit, health care, and education sectors alike.

    Two years ago, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation–Mountain Valley (now Mountain Valley of Cascadia) became the first Gold Award recipient in AHCA/NCAL’s National Quality Award program to proceed to earn a Baldrige Award. To reach that high performance level, the 68-bed, skilled-nursing facility in Kellogg, Idaho, used Baldrige Health Care Criteria-related feedback from the AHCA/NCAL and Baldrige Award programs to help it determine key strengths to leverage and prioritize opportunities to improve.

    As highlighted in a previous blog, the 2016 Baldrige Award recipient’s strengths as a national role model include creating and maintaining an organizational culture of safety, empowerment, innovation, excellence, and “no fear.” With that culture in place, the organization has been able to better address industry-wide challenges such as high staff turnover and a shortage of candidates for registered nurse (RN) and licensed practical nurse (LPN) jobs. (It meets the hiring challenge in part through a “grow-your-own” strategy that supports training for LPNs to become RNs, for nursing aides to become LPNs, and even for some housekeeping staff members to become nursing aides.)

    Given our nation’s growing population of senior citizens, a greater number of Americans than ever before are likely to become residents of skilled-nursing facilities in coming years and decades. They can rest assured that those organizations already must meet many regulatory requirements promoting the health and safety of their short-term (post-acute-care/rehabilitation) and longer-term (nursing care) patients and other residents. But for the greater well-being and satisfaction of such customers—and the employees who serve them, too—who would not want organizations that provide nursing care and homes for incapacitated people to meet criteria that go beyond regulatory compliance to demonstrate excellence across all care-giving and operational processes?

    I have personally spent enough time as a regular visitor in such organizations (10 different facilities in two states!) to understand how a focus on achieving comprehensive, customer-focused excellence at these sites could make a positive difference in the lives of people who live, work, and otherwise see themselves as stakeholders in them. As someone in the latter group, I salute the four new 2018 Gold Award recipients of the AHCA/NCAL award program—and wish them well as they continue their journeys of excellence.