The City of Coral Springs is a planned community of about 123,000 residents in South Florida. The city was one of the first local governments to implement the Baldrige performance excellence model. The city’s first implementation of Baldrige criteria was through a state-level program called “Florida Sterling”.

The successful application of Baldrige has made the city one of the best public sector organisations in the world.

Below is an interview with Susan Grant, deputy city manager of Coral Springs sharing the city’s Baldrige journey.

When Coral Springs, Florida, won the Baldrige Award in 2007, it became the first city in the nation-and one of the first two nonprofit organizations-to receive the U.S. Presidential honor for performance excellence.

That year, Coral Springs boasted results such as a triple-“A” bond rating from all three of the largest U.S. bond-rating agencies for seven years in a row; a crime rate per 100,000 people that decreased by nearly half over ten years (to become the lowest in Florida and the fourth-lowest nationwide for cities of similar size); and high levels of satisfaction among residents, businesses, and city employees. As the Baldrige Program’s 25th anniversary celebration is fast approaching, I recently asked Susan Grant, deputy city manager of Coral Springs, to share an update on her city’s Baldrige journey today. Following are her responses:

How has your organization been sustaining excellence since winning the Baldrige Award? Any recent results you wish to share?

Maintenance of customer satisfaction (both resident and businesses) during the recession as well as maintenance of the city’s “AAA” bond rating are a few of the results that demonstrate our sustained excellence since winning the Baldrige Award. Other important results that we’ve maintained include the city’s low crime rate and short emergency response times. While employee satisfaction has dipped slightly, it is still above 90% and compares favorably to results of other cities. In 2013, the City of Coral Springs had more “A” rated schools than any other city in Broward County—a critical measure, since quality of education is the number-one reason cited for why residents move to Coral Springs.

Have you used Baldrige feedback reports to improve?

Yes, we have absolutely used our Baldrige feedback reports (and, before that, our Florida Sterling feedback reports) to improve our organization. Some examples include the more systematic selection of comparison data—which has ultimately resulted in better performance in the areas being compared. In addition, system improvements for part-time employees and volunteers and a more robust succession planning system have led to improvements in employee engagement for these groups of employees.

How do you see the value of the Baldrige Criteria?

The Baldrige (and Florida Sterling) Criteria provided a solid framework for the city to begin our improvement efforts 20 years ago. The Criteria proved to be comprehensive and integrated—so every area of our organization was addressed.

Any advice for other organizations trying to improve their performance?

Yes: View the implementation of any efforts to improve performance as a journey, rather than as a destination. Our efforts to improve as an organization started with research and garnering buy-in from multiple stakeholder groups. One of the great things about the Baldrige Criteria is that they are not “one size fits all” or prescriptive in any way—so you are able to adapt the Criteria to fit your organization.

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