Quest for Excellence 2009

Paul Grizzell1. Leadership, Education, Events, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Quest for ExcellenceLeave a Comment


The first day of Quest for Excellence is always great. This is the day that senior leaders discuss their Organizational Profile (what’s important to their organization) and Category 1 – Leadership.  As usual, the senior leaders discussed innovation in their organizations, corporate cultures that engage customers and the organization’s workforce, and how the organizations ensure that they are efficient and effective.

Iredell-Statesville Schools
Speaking of efficient and efffective, I really enjoyed – and learned from – an impressive presentation by Terry Holliday, Superintendent of Iredell-Statesville Schools (ISS) in North Carolina.  Terry detailed aggressive goals (ALL students graduate from Iredell-Statesville Schools) and impressive process management that puts ISS in the top 10 districts in North Carolina for quality while, at the same time, they are in the bottom 10 districts for funding. “It’s less expensive to run an efficient, effective school.”

Terry is not a person who makes excuses – he drives results. A key to his commitment is his understanding of Baldrige – which is not surprising as he has been a Baldrige Examiner for many years. Leadership commitment to the process drives results!

Terry also talked about how the Criteria helped ISS focus their efforts. “We don’t do everything – we do what’s important!” How many of our organizations are able to say that we can prioritize our efforts based on what we know will drive the results we need? I also liked Terry’s comment that “if you’re getting into Baldrige for the award, it will be a short journey!” And that doesn’t mean you’ll win the award more quickly!

Terry also suggested that when starting a Baldrige journey you should start with the governance system.” In other words, get the Board of Directors on board!

Poudre Valley Health Systems
Rulon Stacey of Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS) addressed many of the challenges that face health care. I was particularly impressed with his discussion of how to engage physicians. A key thought by Rulon is that “physicians thrive on consistency.”

The three keys to driving physician engagement at PVHS are:

  1. Listen and respond – engage in effective communication with physicians
  2. Parter – give physicians a “seat at the table” on major initiatives, strategic planning and budgeting, and in daily service and operations
  3. Integrate in team culture – ensure that physicians are represenented in interdisciplinary team that address patient care and process and facility design.

Is this successful? You bet! PVHS’s physician satisfaction is in the 99th percentile of a national database.

At PVHS, approximately 20% of physicians are trained as leaders.

PVHS started using the Baldrige Criteria as a management model in 1997. In responding to current challenging economic times, Rulon said that by using the Baldrige Criteria as a management model, they have “been preparing for this economy for ten years.”

Rulon also talked about innovation. As opposed to using Baldrige as an application template, PVHS uses Baldrige to identify and drive excellence. In regard to innovation, Rulon said that “Baldrige pushes us for this benefit.”

I asked a question of Rulon “How do you engage your non-employed physicians?” His response? A two step method:

  1. engage them economically (70% of PVHS physicians are engaged in partnership with PVHS)
  2. engage them in multiple methods of engagement – participation in strategic planning, focus groups, and as voting and non-voting members of the Board of Directors.

Cargill Corn Milling
Allen Willits of Cargill Corn Milling discussed their focus on “delivering process and consistency across interactions.” I’m anxious to sit in on some Cargill presentations to hear more of HOW they do this. Great quote by Allen “Leadership doesn’t guaranteee success, but lack of leadership will certainly lead to failure.”

It was a great day at Quest. Tomorrow will be much more focused on the HOW of excellence at these organizations.

Yours in excellence!

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