Monday, April 19, 2010

A Driving Process for Success: The Governor’s Sterling Award

When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life.
~Greg Anderson

Two years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited by Fringe Benefits Management Company’s President and Florida Sterling Council Board Member Lorraine Strickland to attend the ceremony for the Governor’s Sterling Award in Orlando. Prior to that time, I had heard about the Sterling Award, but I did not know exactly what it did or how it operated. What I remember most about the ceremony was the absolute glee that was apparent on the faces of the staff of the winning companies. That more than made up for having to wear a tux, which is not my favorite thing to do, at all.

The Governor’s Sterling Award is presented to both governmental agencies and private businesses, and for each winner, it seemed as if the entire staff was on the stage to receive the award. I have never seen a happier group than the recipients of this very prestigious honor.

The Sterling Award is to the state of Florida what the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award is to the entire nation. Both programs seek to improve the overall performance and bottom line of each organization (whether for profit or not-for-profit) through process improvement.

The Sterling process evaluates each applicant’s effectiveness in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, measurement and analysis, employee focus, process management, and of course, results. Clearly, this award understands how important processes and process improvement are to making organizations successful. They have a very well-thought-out but demanding path for achieving this award, and outside examiners are brought in to evaluate each firm.

To me, whether an organization wins or not, merely going through this very effective application process is the real value as it brings about some very significant changes. I sit on the boards of two organizations that are going up for the Sterling Award, and I have seen first-hand how simply starting the application process has triggered changes in both staff motivation and process improvement.
Leading up to the Sterling Award ceremony, they hold their annual conference, which helps to educate and train staff on how they can achieve this prestigious award. But more importantly, it demonstrates how to become a more efficient and effective organization. Their 2010 conference will be held June 2-4 in Orlando, and they will cover topics such as “How to Avoid the Four Human Ailments: Pitfalls that Hold Us Back” and “Leadership…Let’s Keep it Real.” It is an extremely informative conference, and I will be attending.

I was so impressed with the entire process that I, along with several others, finally nagged John Pieno, the executive director of the Florida Sterling Council, into developing a Sterling process for small businesses. Called the Small Business Blueprint, this is a series of workshops that brings the guts of the Sterling Award to small firms, and many small business owners have shared with me how valuable this training has been for them.

Whether you are a large business, small business, government entity or a non-profit, Sterling has something for your organization. You can get so much more information about this organization at their web site,

You can do this!

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