I’ve noticed a certain snobbery among some people about hiring consultants to help with their organization’s Baldrige assessment. They tend to be the same folks who believe that every step forward can be made unassisted. Lean? We can learn how to do that on our own. Six Sigma? No problem. Baldrige? How hard can it be?
The truth is, you can do all of these without outside help. I remember being asked about working with a college on its Baldrige Award application only to get a phone call telling me my services wouldn’t be needed: Someone advising the college told them they could do it without me. Which they did. And they won the Award. To me, that proves the college’s management system was very good and that they had the expertise–and the time–to tell their story well.
Those are the two things Baldrige consultants bring to the table: expertise and the ability to save the organization time. An effective assessment or application requires understanding what the Criteria are asking and what your organization does in response. Neither of these is easy. Unless you have an experienced Baldrige examiner on staff, the learning curve is steep, especially for the first assessment. A Baldrige consultant can provide training, help interpret the Criteria, guide or conduct the research, write or edit the assessment, and provide feedback on strengths and opportunities for improvement.
A good Baldrige consultant will help the people working on the assessment understand how the Criteria work and how to tell their organization’s story most effectively. Not only does this empower the organization to produce future assessments/applications with less outside assistance, but the organization also benefits from an expert’s insights into how it can integrate the Baldrige model to achieve its goals.
There will be places where your management system is at odds with the Baldrige model. A Baldrige consultant can describe how a Baldrige organization works and help you figure out how to get from where you are to where your organization needs to be to achieve performance excellence.
To read more about integrating Baldrige, click on these articles: