Leadership Insights from Baldrige Award-Winning AARP

Leadership Insights from Baldrige Award-Winning AARP

F.P. Report

VIRGINIA: When AARP was named a 2020 Baldrige Award recipient, it became one of the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations to earn the prestigious, Presidential award for organizational excellence.

Winning the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award® represented a significant milestone in AARP’s journey to organizational excellence. Founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, AARP has continued to build on her powerful legacy and make her vision a reality: “A society in which all people live with dignity and purpose and fulfill their goals and dreams.”

AARP leadership slide showing their Vision (A society in which all people live with dignity and purpose and fulfill their golas and dreams. Circling around Values are honesty, impact, innovation, humanity and empowerment.

At the Baldrige Program’s 32nd Quest for Excellence® Conference (held virtually April 12-15, 2021), AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins and AARP Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer Scott Frisch shared key insights and lessons about how AARP uses the Baldrige Excellence Framework® to achieve and maintain high performance. Following are detailed highlights from their presentations.

 “As a Baldrige Fellow, along with several of my executive team colleagues who are also Fellows,” Jenkins said, “we had applied the Baldrige framework in designing and implementing the significant changes we’ve made over the past six years to improve our performance and better serve our 38 million members and their families.”

 “By applying the Baldrige framework, not only have we met—and, in most cases, exceeded—our dashboard goals, we have received recognition for our work,” Jenkins explained.

In recognition of its bold approaches to sparking new solutions, AARP was named one of Fast Company’s best workplaces for innovators, recognized as a top workplace by The Washington Post, and named one of the world’s most ethical companies by Ethisphere.

“So for us, applying for the [Malcolm Baldrige] National Quality Award was a natural next step in our quest for excellence,” Jenkins said.

“Going through the Baldrige application process and site visit . . . forced us to examine everything we’re doing and why we’re doing it. . . . We learned so much about our organization: what we did well [strategic advantages], what we needed to work on [strategic challenges], and how to continually transform our organization in the years ahead. The [Baldrige] framework gives us a model for continued success as we update our processes, establish new ones, and strive for even greater results.”

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