Organizations on the Performance Excellence Journey

The Performance Excellence Journey

Last week, I was pleased to again present at and attend the 2016 Conference held by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE). This is a great conference hosted by one of the best Baldrige-based state programs. Like previous TNCPE conferences, this one featured outstanding speakers who shared best practices and lessons learned, and networking opportunities with other like-minded pursuers of excellence.

We heard from recipients of the national Baldrige Award – including Pewaukee School District, PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice, St. David’s HealthCare, FedEx, K&N Management, and two of the two-time recipients – The Ritz-Carlton and MidwayUSA. We also heard from recipients of TNCPE’s own awards and other Tennessee organizations on the journey. One of the things that JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent of Pewaukee School District, says and I echo, “What is so impressive about the Baldrige Criteria is that they apply to any organization, in any sector, of any size.” At conferences like this one, you get exposed to completely new approaches from what you are used to in your own sector, and that often creates “ah-ha” moments that will take you away from “business as usual.”

I also had the opportunity to network with other attendees. Some were from award recipient organizations, some were in the middle of their journeys, and some were planning to submit their first Level 1 applications to TNCPE this year. However, regardless of their time along the journey or their sector, I found these attributes in common:

  • Their commitment to the journey and not the award was evident.
  • They were passionate about performance excellence and dissatisfied with the status quo.
  • They saw great value in becoming examiners themselves to deepen their own understanding of the Criteria and the process of evaluating applications.
  • They truly valued the feedback they received and leveraged it to accelerate improvement in their organizations.
  • They sought out others on the journey to share learnings and best practices.
  • They didn’t wait until their organizations were at the level of maturity to receive an award. They didn’t wait until they were “ready.” They dove in with both feet to begin making an improvement.

If you’re on the journey to performance excellence, what other attributes do you find in common with others on the journey? And if you’re not on the journey to performance excellence, what’s holding you back? If you aren’t improving faster than your competition, you’re losing ground at an alarming pace.

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