Community of Excellence

Communities are complex systems. Like any system, a community can improve how it performs for its residents by understanding what is working and what can be improved and addressing those issues using best practices and shared ideas. Granite Table emerged after the Central Minnesota Alliance engaged in Communities of Excellence 2026, a national learning collaborative that uses the Baldrige-based Communities of Excellence Framework. The Framework encourages continually reevaluating and appropriately addressing the needs of our diverse community at a system level as they continue to change over time.

The Baldrige Program

“The Baldrige Program, and indeed the entire Baldrige community, are excited about helping communities achieve ever-higher levels of performance and improved quality of life for their residents. In fact, that is essentially the mission of the Baldrige Program: to benefit all U.S. residents through improved competitiveness. Until now, however, we have been focused on accomplishing that purpose through single organization. Partnering with Communities of Excellence 2026 enables us to carry out that mission on a much broader level, with the potential for greater reach and impact.”  Robert Fangmeyer, Director, Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

Why use the Baldrige Framework?

Central MN has been home to many collaborations and partnerships focused on improving our community. While progress has been made, our region struggles with education, healthcare, and economic opportunity disparities. Our communities are complex systems where the root causes of these disparities are intertwined and involve numerous processes. Our collaborative efforts often focus on shortterm solutions without the community’s involvementor examining root causes. Community leaders also knew that there was much redundancy between projects, a lack of coordination across communities, and sometimes competitive efforts between cities, organizations,and groups in our area. It became clear that we needed to work smarter with our limited resources.

Joining the Communities of Excellence 2026 learning collaborative offered a different approach to community improvement. The adapted Baldrige Framework recognized that community performance excellence grows from recognizing that theroot causes of community challenges are inextricably interwoven, and that progress requires commitment among leaders across sectors and generations to take a systems approach to community performance.Rather than prescribe how to structure our community leadership, objectives, or action plans, or what our community’s mission, goals, and measures should be, the framework asks that wemake these decisions as a community. The Communitiesof Excellence Framework includes a set of key questions for improving the performance of communities and the people who lead and live in them. Those questions focuson using processes systematically and consistently, learning how the processes might be improvedand that the processes address current and future needs in the community. 

Imagine a time when leaders within a community official leaders (those elected or appointed to their formal positions) as well as the many informal community leaders work together to set community vision; listen to community stakeholders to better understand community assets and needs; (re)allocate resources to address community issues or advance community initiatives; use community scorecards to monitor progress of those initiatives and the outcomes they intend to impact; andengage, mobilize, and align people resources workers, volunteers, and citizenry on the initiatives that will make a difference in a given community.That’s how high performing organizations succeed; we believe that’s how high performing communities will succeed.Communities of Excellence 2026

Our Mission:

Enriching lives in the Greater St. Cloud Region through intentional, collaborative, and equitable action.