April 2014 PEN Newsletter – Pathways to Excellence


Pathways to Excellence: Insights from PENworks 2014

Brian S. Lassiter

Last week, the Performance Excellence Network hosted our annual (sold out!) conference, PENworks 2014.  The event featured 18 local, regional, and national organizations on the journey to excellence, each sharing best practices in leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement and knowledge management, workforce engagement, and operations.

Some speakers were from large, multinational corporations (Seagate, Boeing); some were from small nonprofits (Pewaukee School District, Sutter Davis Hospital, Winona Health, LifeSource); many were in between.  Some organizations have focused on improvement for two years, while some have been on the journey for 22 years.  But they all had one thing in common: they are not satisfied with “good enough,” and are continuously striving to improve outcomes for their customers, workforce, and other stakeholders.  They also proved that, while there are many pathways to excellence, there are some universal truths…

Building off of last month’s blog (A Recipe for Excellence: 50 Ingredients that Drive Organizational Performance), here are 32 insights that come from PENworks 2014 speakers.  I’m sure there were hundreds of insights shared, but I think the ones listed below apply to pretty much any and all organizations on the journey to excellence.  They have been tested and validated by organizations that have reached true levels of high performance, and they are great reminders for all of our enterprises as we strive for ever-improving outcomes.  How does your organization (enterprise, department, division, team) stack up?

Excellent organizations…



  • Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Four Minnesota Organizations

    ST. PAUL, Minn., April 16, 2014 – The Performance Excellence Network (PEN), formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality, today honors four recipients of the 2013 Performance Excellence Award (formerly the MN Quality Award).  The Award is based on the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management system.  Evaluation Criteria includes leadership, strategic planning, customer-focused processes, measurement systems, workforce engagement, and operations and recognizes organizations that are systematically improving results.

    The organizations receiving the Award are: Cardinal of Minnesota (Rochester), Winona Health (Winona), both recognized at the Excellence Level; LifeSource (St. Paul) at the Achievement Level; and Austin Public Schools (Austin) at the Commitment Level.  These four organizations join 123 others recognized since 1991 for their systematic improvement efforts and superior outcomes.

    In addition, PEN recognized seven organizations for successfully completing the Baldrige-based self-assessment, also designed for organizational improvement. These organizations are: Centennial Public Schools (Blaine); Dakota State University (Madison, SD); MACC Commonwealth (Minneapolis); Portico Benefit Services (Minneapolis); Seagate (Shakopee, Bloomington); South Dakota Small Business Development Center (Pierre, SD); and TADS (St. Paul).


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