Reflections from Winning an Award


McClaskey Excellence Institute recently got some tremendous news. I want to share it with you and to reflect a bit on what the Baldrige-assessment process is and what it means to us.

First the news: Pal’s Business Excellence Institute is the 2015 winner of the Excellence Award given by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE). This is in essence the State of Tennessee’s Quality Award. We couldn’t be more pleased.


This provides a wonderful opportunity for me to talk about what a great process Baldrige and State Quality Awards are for driving excellence. In this blog I will give some background, discuss what Baldrige assesses and what feedback looks like. More information can be found at: Baldrige ( ); and TNCPE (


The Tennessee Baldrige-based program is a highly respected program run by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE). It is based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria and uses the same protocols that the national award uses. There are four award levels: (lowest) Interest; Commitment; Achievement; and (highest) Excellence. There have been 22 companies that have won the Excellence Award since the State Award process started 23 years ago. Included in this group of 22 companies are four Baldrige award winners. Pal’s BEI is by far the smallest organization to ever win the Excellence Award with only three full-time team members. Many of the other Excellence Award winners have hundreds and some even thousands of employees. This shows that Baldrige can be used by organizations of any size.

What Baldrige Assesses

Baldrige basically assesses an organization’s processes and results. It weighs the two approximately equally. To win the Excellence Award, you have to be good at both aspects of your business. Your key results need to show a high level of sustained (multiple year) results as compared to appropriate benchmarks. The processes are evaluated to determine if they are effective, systematic, well – deployed, highly integrated, and are evaluated and improved on a regular basis.

Feedback: Our Strengths and Opportunities for Improvement

A Baldrige assessment reports out an organization’s Strengths and Opportunities for Improvement.

Strengths: Regarding Pal’s BEI’s results, the last eight years show substantial growth in revenue and customers served each year. The main measure of accomplishment of our Mission to “inspire and enable organizations to be extraordinary through operational excellence” is how many of the people who took our classes went back and used, on the job, one or more “Gems” that they learned from us. For the last four years this number has been at 100%. As far as we know this is a national benchmark.

Regarding processes, we are a really good learning organization that targets 100%. There is hardly a day that goes by that we haven’t found at least some small way to systematically evaluate and improve one or more of our processes. We have simple and effective processes that are followed. Related to team members, we work to design the jobs so that the full time and talent of each of our three full-time team members can be effectively used towards our Mission. This full use of time and talent is just one of the many principles we have learned and adopted from Pal’s Sudden Service.

Opportunities for Improvement: On the other side, the TNCPE/Baldrige process shows that we have many improvement opportunities in almost every aspect of our business. Some of those include being more systematic in our evaluation and improvement of team members, doing a better job of managing our support processes, and being better at segmenting our customers so we can better design products and better service their needs.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a great way to be inspired and enabled to take your next step toward excellence, I suggest you seriously consider:

  1. Applying for and using your state Baldrige-based award program to systematically drive improvement.
  2. Attending McClaskey Excellence Institute’s “Achieving World-Class Results” class . This course is based on Pal’s Sudden Service’s Baldrige-winning simple and effective approaches to excellence.