Kruse Scholar Perspective: Jessica Schmitz

At the end of February, I had the opportunity to attend the Baldrige 101 training held in Sioux Falls, SD at Augustana University. I have been a scholar in the Communities of Excellence program for a year now, and my understanding of collaboration and healthy communication within organizations has increased greatly. This training day in February allowed me to be a part of this cooperation and gave me a view of what it will look like to have communities collaborating under Baldrige principals like businesses, healthcare organizations, and educators have already been practicing.

One of the most interesting things I pulled away from the training seemed unimportant at the time, but in reflecting on the day it has become one of the main takeaways. The Baldrige framework is not a list of ways to make an organization better. Rather, it is a list of questions to ask, most of which begin with “how.” Shifting the focus from a business organization to a community, I have since been asking myself how a community, like Sioux Falls, sets its goals and values, or how it engages its citizens along with its leaders. Of course asking these questions of Sioux Falls, or of any community, is best when done collectively, as many ideas come together to formulate a clear understanding of how the community really runs. This very task is the focus of Communities of Excellence, and I am excited to be a part of it.

Since February, I have been seeing bits and pieces of the Baldrige framework sprinkled through my life as a student. As a computer science student, I am involved in a software engineering class where we are working in groups to design, analyze, and ultimately implement a program for a fictional art dealer. In this experience I have been able to relate to the notions of leadership, customer focus, strategic planning, operational focus, and results found in Baldrige.  Additionally, it has been neat to reflect on my past work experiences and measure them against the criteria of Baldrige.

In short, it is difficult to imagine a world without the Baldrige principals. Brian Lassiter, a presenter at the Baldrige 101 training, continuously reminded us that organizations, whether they have heard of Baldrige or not, are striving to focus attention in these categories of leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement and analysis, workforce focus, operations focus, and results. At the end of the day, it was clear that Baldrige existed to make organizations reach these goals faster.

Jessica Schmitz

* Learn more about Jessica here: Jessica Schmitz


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