Protecting Minnesota’s water, air, and land is a complex job that requires innovation, flexibility, and most importantly, regular evaluation of progress. While the MPCA’s work to keep Minnesota’s natural environment safe and healthy has largely been successful, MPCA leadership realized there was a need to measure the Agency’s strategic plan goal of being an excellent organization. Evaluation of leaders’ progress in managing the organization required a framework that is comparable nationally and led decision-makers to the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.
The nationally acclaimed Baldrige program is dedicated to helping businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations achieve performance excellence through identifying strengths, opportunities for improvement, and developing best management practices. Baldrige participants get recognition at four levels: Commitment, Advancement, Achievement, and Excellence at the state level.
The MPCA worked with an outside consultant to guide Agency management through preparing an application for the Baldrige assessment process in six months. Agency management used Baldrige Performance Excellence Criteria to conduct a comprehensive top-to-bottom assessment of the MPCA. They explored agency values, leadership system, work and processes, cycles of improvement, and results. Management teams received extensive training on how to answer specific Baldrige criteria questions, and their written documentation serves as an “operating manual” for the agency. After the MPCA submitted the 50-page application, trained Baldrige evaluators conducted a three-day site visit, observed agency work, verified the application by reviewing 350 pieces of documentation, and by interviewing over 100 employees in three office locations across the state.
How did we do?
The MPCA received an overall score of 431 out of 1000, or “Advancement Level”. MPCA scored better than half of all first-time applicants. Baldrige evaluators broke up feedback information on the six criteria into strengths and opportunities for improvement. Things like employee passion for the agency mission, our leadership system, and using data for fact-based decisions stood out as notable strengths. Opportunities for improvement included suggestions like increasing the Agency’s work to solicit and analyze the feedback from customers and preparing for the rapidly changing demographics of Minnesota’s workforce. The results also indicated a need to develop better comparative measures of the MPCA’s progress.
MPCA leadership has assessed the opportunities for improvement, and chartered design teams for innovation and customer feedback. Management teams have been asked to review and address possible opportunities for improvement in their assigned areas by June, 2017. The MPCA’s media forums will be assessing the opportunities for improvement in demonstrating our results.