Take that leap to begin your performance excellence journey!

Take that leap to begin your performance excellence journey!

Are you the leader of a small organization?  Does that cause you to hesitate considering using the Baldrige Excellence Framework?  After all, it’s pretty complex, and some really big organizations have won the Baldrige Award.  Could it possibly be applicable for a very small organization?

Did you know that two of the four organizations named as Baldrige Award recipients in 2016 were in the small business category and a third – while recognized as a recipient in the healthcare category – could have qualified as a very small business with its workforce of only 90 employees?


We recently had the privilege of listening to the leaders of the four Baldrige Award recipients from 2016 at the Baldrige Fall Conference in Tempe, Arizona.  All were inspirational speakers who shared openly about their journeys to performance excellence.  We decided to follow up with Maryruth Butler, Executive Director of Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation – Mountain Valley (now Cascadia Healthcare).

One of the things that Maryruth told us was that it’s a bit intimidating for leaders of very small organizations to embark on a journey to performance excellence because at first, it seems that quality programs or Baldrige, to be specific, is that they’re for larger corporations that have more structure, more resources, and more formal quality organizations.  When the awards are at a national level, very small organizations can feel that they don’t belong up on the stage.  “However, after getting to know my peers (fellow award recipients) as part of the ‘Baldrige conference circuit,’ I can tell you that we all feel welcome and that our organization’s achievements are every bit as recognized and celebrated as any other winner.”

In addition, we saw that many of the best practices shared by these small organizations have applicability outside of their sector or industry.  For example, when Maryruth describes the importance of creating a safe culture where employees are encouraged to acknowledge being uncertain about performing a task or even making mistakes, true organizational learning can occur.  The safe culture also promotes employee engagement, which is applicable to any industry.

Another one of our observations is how being an award recipient; an examiner or judge; part of the Alliance, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, or the Baldrige Foundation; or one of the Communities of Excellence brings with it an invitation to join the  Baldrige “family” as honorary members

We asked Maryruth how the Baldrige journey has changed her and her senior leadership team.  She responded, “The ‘Baldrige family’ experience has changed how we operate every single day.   I look back at how we used to just react to problems. We still have to do that on occasion, but more often now we’re proactive and ask – without any problem or adverse trend – what could we do to make us better, provide even better care, and build better relationships with our residents and staff?  All of the things we did on our journey build on our initial successes through the AHCA/NCAL Quality Award program but took us so much further when we continued on the journey with the Baldrige Award.  And I believe it hasn’t stopped there. I truly believe that our senior leaders use it in their personal and professional lives outside of our Mountain Valley center.  And we can’t ever go back!”

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