By Kruse Scholar Jasmin Fosheim
This spring I attended my second PENWorks conference in Minneapolis as a Kruse Scholar. The first conference I attended was largely overwhelming. My understanding of Baldrige and Communities of Excellence was still elementary, and I was a little flabbergasted by the enthusiasm with which people engaged in what seemed to be an incredibly complex and challenging process of identifying and attempting to enact change to systemic problems. This year, however, I have a newfound understanding and appreciation of the Baldrige criteria and Communities of Excellence I credit to the Kruse Scholar program and PENWorks wholly.
It took two years, but I finally get it. Communities of Excellence and Baldrige have invaded my thoughts and I’ve found myself becoming gradually more critical of the same old same old. More importantly, my skepticism regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the organizations I’m a part of and the employers I work for has become more than just criticism and identification of flaws. I now have a mindset of identifying opportunities for improvement and searching for solutions.
Further, I’ve learned that identifying opportunities for improvement and coming up with solutions on my own to implement isn’t enough; solutions should consider all components of an issue, sectors of an organization, and stakeholders in the mission of the organization.
Finally, after two years of engaging with Communities of Excellence and Baldrige, I feel like I finally understand the crucial need for these strategic approaches to address the systemic issues in organizations, communities, and our nation. This newfound understanding led to a PENWorks conference in which I could be engaged and finally share the enthusiasm of the professionals and Baldrige enthusiasts that I, at one time, just couldn’t relate to. Baldrige and Communities of Excellence have changed the way I perceive, assess, and engage with my entire world.
Read more about Jasmin Fosheim here