Path to Excellence Program

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

Performance Excellence Northwest’s program is open to any organization of any size at any stage of its development, with three Baldrige Excellence Frameworks covering every industry. To assist organizations, the following three frameworks are published by the national program:

  • Business/Non-Profit
  • Education
  • Healthcare

Each aspect of the program has been carefully designed to support you on your journey toward performance excellence. When you complete an application for the Performance Excellence Northwest (PENW) Program, a team of examiners will conduct the assessment, evaluating:

  • Organizational approaches (processes) and extent of deployment across the organization
  • The extent to which the approaches are evaluated/improved and aligned/integrated throughout the organization
  • The approaches’ effectiveness at driving organizational results

Recognizing Your Commitment

We recognize your efforts at various stages of your progress with the following awards:

  • Certificate of Commitment: This level is the starting point for organizations that are beginning to adopt and apply quality principles as defined by the Baldrige Excellence Framework.
  • Achievement Level Award: This intermediate level is for those organizations that have demonstrated significant progress toward excellence and processes for continuous improvement.
  • Leadership Level Award: This is an advanced level for organizations that have demonstrated significant progress toward excellence.
  • Excellence Level Award: This award level is for organizations that have demonstrated the highest level of excellence. It’s at this level your organization should consider working with the national program.

At the end of the program, you are presented a comprehensive report that provides you with objective and actionable feedback tailored to your industry and organization—the most valuable reward for your organization’s commitment to improving its performance.

Implementing the Criteria for Performance Excellence


To start the Performance Excellence journey, you need to learn the framework, concepts and principles of the Baldrige criteria. A half-day Introduction to Performance Excellence workshop is offered on-site and throughout the year in various locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. You’ll have the opportunity to send an individual or a team.


When you have started on the Baldrige path, it is important to understand the readiness of your organization for transformation and where the gaps are between the current performance and Baldrige excellence. PENW offers two options to assist organizations at this phase.

  1. A one-day in-house facilitated workshop, Introduction and Assessment, provides an understanding of how much of the Baldrige concepts are currently in practice in your organization and identifies the gaps. Assessment is tailored to the level of maturity and the size of your organization.
  2. Some organizations may wish to use a detailed online assessment tool that can be used by the entire organization or key individuals within the organization. Upon completing the assessment, PENW provides a detailed report analyzing the input received and provide a facilitated half-day session to understand how to turn the feedback into action.

Developing Expertise

For individuals or teams in an organization that have been empowered to lead the Baldrige effort, our two-day Developing Expertise workshop provides an in-depth knowledge of the criteria. Using a Baldrige Case Study application, participants learn how an organization implemented strategies and applied the criteria. These classes are offered on-site.

Application Assistance

You can present your organization in its best and most accurate light by taking advantage of the Preparing and Applying for the PENW Pathway to Excellence Program workshop. Classes are offered throughout the year and on-site. Organizations preparing their first PENW application may also take advantage of the Writing a PENW Application learning collaborative. This collaborative walks teams through the preparation of an application using a structured process incorporating training; one-on-one feedback and planning sessions; and team facilitation. Organizations preparing advanced applications may also choose to utilize PENW customized consulting services.

Taking Action on the Feedback

When you have received feedback from an assessment (the on-line assessment or a gap analysis) or an application feedback report, the following offerings assist you in addressing the identified gaps and opportunities for improvement. Begin with the customized on-site Turning Feedback into Action workshop and then utilize the PENW Improvement Opportunity Service. The Improvement Opportunities are listed by Baldrige category to assist in finding the intervention that best address the needs of your organization.

Contact us for more information on Opportunities for Improvement.

Feedback Report

All award applicants receive a feedback report providing valuable insight on their organizations. The strengths and areas for improvement described in the report can be used as a management tool for planning, training, and implementing the organizations quality initiatives and to achieve performance excellence.

Special Recognition

Award recipients are recognized for their achievement during our annual banquet event. While this award is a significant honor, your real reward comes from the learning process you have undertaken and the lessons learned along the way.