If you could give a report card for how an agency runs its business, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency would receive high marks for how it follows one of the country’s most respected rubrics.
“We are thrilled,” says MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop referring to an award the agency received this week from the Performance Excellence Network (PEN) for performance excellence and commitment to continuous improvement. Bishop accepted the award during an online event on September 23.
The MPCA received the highest of PEN’s four levels of achievement, the Excellence Award, following a rigorous evaluation of its management system, including its leadership, strategic planning, customer-focused processes, system for measuring operational outcomes, and workforce engagement with the agency’s mission, vision, and values.
“This is for all our employees working to deliver our mission and vision of providing essential services that support healthy people and ecosystems, as well as a thriving economy,” says Bishop, who accepted the award via a prerecorded video.
The evaluation is based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework, a set of nationally recognized criteria adopted by organizations around the U.S. that strive to do better in delivering service to customers — be it schools, nonprofits, businesses, or government. After its first evaluation in 2016, when the MPCA received high marks in areas of employee passion for the mission, leadership, and using data for fact-based decisions, the agency used its management teams to create improvements to its systems and community engagement.
“This objective outside review of our organizational strategies and outcomes helps us measure our progress and identify areas we can improve,” Bishop says. “We’ve jumped two levels of improvement since first going through this process in 2016. That shows our commitment to continuous improvement, and it’s especially gratifying to be recognized at the excellence level, which is a first for a government agency in Minnesota.”
The MPCA is the first government entity in Minnesota to receive this top honor from PEN.
“The MPCA is an excellent example of what we strive for within our state government, always improving the ways we deliver essential services to Minnesotans,” said Governor Tim Walz in in a recorded message delivered during the online event. “They have rejected the notion of a one size fits all approach to complicated issues in favor of workable solutions with better processes and strategies.”
According to PEN, “Organizations recognized at this highest level have demonstrated organizational excellence by the purposefulness with which they continue to improve and build upon results and systems. These organizations show refined approaches, fully deployed with positive trends in key measures and results. These organizations are well integrated, have no ‘show-stoppers,’ and can be national and global role models.”
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.