It’s the question your boss may have asked you to answer. Or a coworker mentioned Baldrige. Or you heard about a competitor who’s “doing Baldrige.”
So what is it?
Baldrige refers to the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which the U.S. Congress legislated in 1987. The first Baldrige Awards were presented in 1988.
Each year, applicants for the Baldrige Award prepare detailed assessments of their management systems. Their applications respond to the Criteria for Performance Excellence. The Criteria are built upon a set of 11 interrelated core values and concepts.
There are seven Criteria Categories that cover everything important in a management system:
2. Strategic Planning
3. Customer Focus
4. Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
5. Workforce Focus
6. Operations Focus
There are three variations of the Baldrige Criteria: one for education, one for healthcare, and one for business, nonprofits, and government organizations. You can find free, downloadable copies of the current Criteria at the Baldrige program’s Web site here.
Organizations assess their management systems using these Criteria to identify the strengths of their systems and the opportunities for improvement. This assessment, evaluation, and improvement process helps them embed the Baldrige core values in their cultures. That, in turn, helps them get outstanding results.
You don’t have to apply for a Baldrige Award to take advantage of this process. Some organizations do internal assessments using the Criteria, hire one or more experts to evaluate them, and use the feedback to drive improvement. Others apply for state quality awards. The pros and cons of each option are presented here.
So here’s the answer you can take back to your boss: Baldrige is a proven approach for understanding how your management system works and where it needs to be improved to achieve performance excellence and world-class results.