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0406 HR Magazine: Winners and Learners

By Ann Pomeroy   4/1/2006
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HR Magazine, April 2006

Vol. 51, No. 4

Previous Winners
2005 Winner: Jenks Public Schools

Although Jenks (Okla.) Public Schools won the Baldrige Award the first time it applied, in 2005, the organization started its quality journey 10 years ago, says Stacey Butterfield, assistant superintendent for HR and business services.

More recently, in 2001, the school system built the Baldrige criteria into its state-required Comprehensive Local Education Plan, says Diane Bosworth, assistant superintendent for curriculum and school improvement. In 2004, the organization decided to apply for the award because the Baldrige criteria are the best national tool out there to measure us, says Bosworth, who took the lead and spent the next year working with three other administrators to write the application.

Believing that you talk to experts in other areas of life, so why not in the Baldrige application process, Bosworth says Jenks brought in a consultant to advise them. Everything you need in your school system is in place, the consultant told them, but its not coming through in the application.

Bosworth says the consultant helped us capture our school on paper. He taught us how to make some of the extraordinary things we have here pop on the application. Although the application process was arduous, says Bosworth, there are many gifts in there, one of which is self-assessment.

And the feedback report was invaluable. We knew how we compared to other Oklahoma schools, says Bosworth. The Baldrige process gave them the opportunity to find out how they measured up nationally.

Baldrige examiners gave the school system, which serves both suburban and urban populations in the Tulsa area, high marks for the academic performance of its students and for the high number of teachers with advanced degrees. Jenks also was rated highly for innovative programs like its partnership with a local long-term care facility. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes are held at the facility, a setup that benefits both students and residents, says Bosworth. (To read more about Jenks Public Schools, visit

And Butterfield says it was gratifying for HR to learn that the schools employee performance appraisal process was considered a model for other organizations.

2004 Winner: Texas Nameplate Co.

I was told in 1997 that we couldnt win, says Dale Crownover, president and CEO of Texas Nameplate Co. This company of 48 employees proved the critics wrong by winning the Baldrige Award not once but twicein 1998 and again in 2004.

Texas Nameplate, which uses a chemical process to engrave names and numbers on identification nameplates for such industrial products as high-pressure valves, oil field equipment and computers, is the smallest business to receive a Baldrige Awardand the only small business to receive the award twice.

Crownover, who used the Baldrige criteria to lead his organization out of the red and onto financially sound footing, is firmly convinced of the business value of the Baldrige criteria. The criteria require companies to align and integrate their business practices, he says, and to assess the effectiveness of their business plans. They also provide a systems perspective for your people. Employees want to know what is going on, he says.

In addition to praising the firms increased profitability, Baldrige examiners cited the companys customer satisfaction (between 2001 and 2004, the number of lost customers decreased from about 26 to one) and employee satisfaction.

Crownover says employees told him they value paid time off highly, so he implemented a policy of extra time off when set goals are met. In 2005, he says, employees received 12 bonus days in addition to the 25 days of vacation they receive each year. To ensure that all jobs are covered when employees are on vacation, he says, about 80 percent of the staff is cross-trained.

Crownover has served as an examiner and a judge in the Baldrige program and now chairs the board of the Malcolm Baldrige Foundation. He has written one book about his Baldrige experiences and is currently working on a second.

2005 Winner: DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations

This 2005 Baldrige Award winner in the service category followed a path to success traveled by many other applicants. DynMcDermott, the first award winner from the oil industry, began using the Baldrige criteria in 1996 through the Louisiana state program. (A majority of states have mini-Baldrige programs with criteria similar to those of the national program.) After winning three times at the state level (1996, 2001 and 2002), the company applied for the national award in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Charles Tolleson, director and vice president for strategic performance and communications, likens the comprehensive self-examination required by the Baldrige Are We Making Progress? survey to going to the doctor for a physical. Its a head-to-toe exam, he says. Although the questions may be gut-wrenching at times, Tolleson says his company is not afraid of the answers.

DynMcDermott has been the sole management and operations contractor for the Department of Energys Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) since 1993. The SPR is the United States emergency oil stockpile, established by Congress in 1975. The largest emergency supply in the world, this store of crude oil provides insurance against supply interruptions.

Only twice in 30 years has an American president declared a drawdown from the SPRin 1991 during Operation Desert Storm and again last fall in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Although several DynMcDermott sites in Louisiana and Texas were affected by the storms80 to 100 employees were displaced by Katrina and 40 to 50 by Ritathe companys very detailed emergency response plans went into operation immediately. Less than five days after Katrina struck, the company began providing oil to refiners. This was accomplished by rerouting the primary SPR computer network to Texas. Three days after Hurricane Rita, DynMcDermott made its first drawdown oil delivery.

A site visit by the Baldrige examiners also went on as scheduled in September, immediately following the Gulf hurricanes. We were offered the opportunity not to have a site visit, says Tolleson, but the employees decided that, if Katrina was a category 4 hurricane and Rita was a category 3, then a site visit was only a category 2and thats nothing!

Examiners traveled to each location and talked to 60 percent to 70 percent of the companys employees, a process complicated by the fact that hotel rooms in New Orleans were scarce. (The examiners stayed 90 miles away and were transported to the companys Louisiana facilities during the day.)

While its heartening to win the prestigious Baldrige Award, its not the end of the road, Tolleson says. He considers it a well-defined point along our continuous improvement journeya signpost at the top of the hill. When you reach that signpost, however, you find that the road continues.

He expects that DynMcDermott will re-engage with state programs during the next five years (Baldrige winners must wait five years before they are eligible to reapply) to keep our skills sharp.

Ann Pomeroy is senior writer for HR Magazine . 
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