Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Four Minnesota Organizations

For Immediate Release

Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Four Minnesota Organizations

2015 MN Performance Excellence Awards Presented at PENworks 2016 Conference;

Governor Celebrates Excellence in Minnesota


ST. PAUL, Minn., April 20, 2016 – The Performance Excellence Network (PEN), formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality, today honors four recipients of the 2015 Performance Excellence Award (formerly the MN Quality Award).  The Award is based on the Baldrige Framework and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management system.  The evaluation criteria include leadership, strategic planning, customer-related processes, measurement and information systems, workforce engagement, and operations and recognize organizations that are systematically improving results.


The organizations receiving the Award are: Cardinal of Minnesota (Rochester), at the highest (Excellence) Level; LifeSource (Minneapolis), at the Achievement Level; Johnson Memorial health Services (Dawson), at the Advancement Level; and Southeast Service Cooperative (Rochester), at the Commitment Level.  These four organizations join 133 others recognized since 1991 for their systematic improvement efforts and superior outcomes.


These organizations were featured at PENworks 2016, April 18-19 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Center.  The Awards were presented during a luncheon Tuesday.  The conference also featured seven keynotes, three delivered by leaders from 2015 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient organizations: Mary Searcy Bixby, Founder/CEO, Charter School of San Diego (CA); Dr. Glenn Crotty, COO, Charleston Area Medical Center Health System (WV); and Dean Kappel, President Emeritus, Mid-America Transplant Services (MO).  All shared how their organizations have achieved world class outcomes using Baldrige and modern improvement techniques.


They were joined by four other keynotes: Dr. Amit Sood, physician, Mayo Clinic (on The Science of Happiness); Paul Hillen, VP of Global Marketing, Cargill (on The Power of Networks, Trust, Persuasion, and Influence); Dan Mallin of Equals 3 LLC (on The Art of Possible: How Data Will Change the Way We Do Business); and John Sweeney, CEO/owner of Brave New Workshop (on The Innovative Mindset: Behaviors for Accelerating Breakthroughs).


“This process helps us better achieve our mission of saving lives,” said Susan Gunderson, CEO of nonprofit LifeSource, Minnesota’s organ procurement organization.  “Our work is at the intersection of life and death, so systematically improving our outcomes has meaning to the many lives we serve every year.”


Said Brian Lassiter, president/CEO of the Performance Excellence Network: “as in sports, you don’t win in organizations by focusing on winning.  You win by having a strong game plan and by finding and executing the next best play during the game.  These organizations are working to improve their game plans and to find and execute improvement opportunities in their enterprises.  Because, as the saying goes, if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”


The event also recognized the 2015 Board of Evaluators, a group of over 60 volunteers supporting PEN’s mission of advancing performance excellence in the region.  Evaluators include CEOs, business managers and professionals, physicians and surgeons, school superintendents and school teachers from throughout the Upper Midwest, each giving over 100 hours of volunteer service to help other organizations reach higher levels of performance.


Myron Frans, Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget for the State of Minnesota, offered remarks on behalf of Governor Dayton: “I congratulate the recipients of this year’s Performance Excellence Award…Your efforts are helping to improve productivity and efficiency and the quality of health, education, competitiveness, and livability in Minnesota.”


About Cardinal of Minnesota

Based in Rochester, Cardinal of Minnesota was founded in 1995 by its current owner, Jack Priggen. With a staff of over 400 dedicated employees, Cardinal serves over 135 clients in nearly 40 homes in SE and NW Minnesota.  Cardinal of MN has been on the journey to excellence using Baldrige for 10 years, with this being their fifth application to the Performance Excellence Network.  For more information:


About Johnson Memorial Health Services

Johnson Memorial Health Services is a hospital district consisting of City of Dawson and seven townships in far western Minnesota, serving a community of approximately 3,400.  JMSH includes a critical access hospital with 20 beds, five rural clinics, and about 70 long-term care and assisted living beds.  Johnson Memorial has about 230 employees.  For more information:


About LifeSource

Based in Minneapolis, LifeSource is the non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest.  They serve more than 6 million people in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and portions of western Wisconsin.  For more information:


About Southeast Service Cooperative

The Southeast Service Cooperative (SSC) was created in 1976 as a public, non-profit cooperative of over 80 public and private school districts, cities, counties, and other member organizations.  SSC delivers numerous services to support administrative and instructional functions to its more than 80 members in an 11 county region in southeast Minnesota.  For more information:


About Performance Excellence Network

The Performance Excellence Network was founded in 1987 by the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Rudy Perpich, and was spun off into a private 501(c)3 nonprofit two years later. PEN advances improvement and performance excellence within organizations, individuals and communities. It helps leaders identify strengths and improvement opportunities, and it builds networks that bring information, resources, knowledge and best practices to organizations desiring to improve. PEN serves members and organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. For more information, go to