Performance Excellence Process
Baldrige Workshops
Global Insights Archive
Quest for Excellence 2006:
by Craig A. Anderson
May 2006

Last week we were fortunate enough to attend the annual Quest for Excellence
Conference in Washington, DC, the annual bash that celebrates Baldrige
Performance Excellence in all its many manifestations. Attendees from as far
away as Qatar, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Japan enjoyed
the camaraderie and learned the tricks of the trade from the current crop of
National Baldrige Award winners (and plenty of past champions). At times the
atmosphere was as raucous as, well, a Friday night Texas football game, which,
actually makes sense given the disproportionate number of recent winners who
hail from the Texas Republic...

In any case, as interesting as it was to note who WAS there (roughly 40-45% from
health care organizations (!!) and 40-45% from businesses of all sizes, with
perhaps 10-15% from the education sector), it was even more interesting to note
who was NOT there: the Federal government! Here we were, several blocks away
from the White House, and there were almost no Federal government attendees.
This in spite of the fact that the Award Criteria have been expanded by law to
include government and non-profit sectors beginning in 2007 (a non-profit pilot
program is underway this year). It is clear that up to now Baldrige has not gained
any traction in the Federal government. So, what's up?

"Reform" Burnout
We asked around, both during and after the conference, and heard a similar
refrain from Feds and consultants who work with Federal organizations: Federal
managers are busy, tired of ongoing "reform" efforts, and wary of the (extra) work
that Baldrige requires. Baldrige demands a 3-5 year commitment to achieve
breakthrough results, and this can be an eternity to managers struggling to stay
afloat today. And of course this is not just a Federal government problem;
managers in all industries are under stress. No sector has a monopoly on the
search for the "silver bullet" at the expense of the hard work needed to achieve
systematic change.

Needed: Vision and Courage
The irony is that the very organizations that are the most stressed are the ones
who would benefit the most from a commitment to Baldrige Performance
Excellence. Regardless of sector, Baldrige organizations are managed for
excellence: they understand what they do, why and how they do it, and how they will
prepare for the challenges of the future. Yes, Baldrige does require some heavy
lifting at the front end, but the investment will reap major rewards as your
employees, customers, stakeholders, partners, and suppliers will form new ways
of thinking, communicating, and working together to achieve real results. The open
source Baldrige system creates a "no-BS" environment: you do work that matters,
without guesswork and political manipulations.

Eat Your Oatmeal
It is easy for us to say, because at Global Performance Systems we actually like to
eat oatmeal, but go ahead and adopt an "oatmeal attitude" toward your
organizational success: reject false prophets and silver bullet salesmen, and take
charge of your own organizational health by eating a healthy diet of data-driven,
open source Baldrige Performance Excellence. Do not let yourself get locked into
a closed, proprietary system that constrains you and your team: go with the open
source Baldrige system and join forces with thousands of champions around the
world who are ready to work with you for common success. Good luck!