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…and you want to know:
- what Baldrige is, click here
- what to tell your boss about Baldrige, click here
- what the Baldrige Criteria are, click here
- the core values embedded in the Criteria, click here
- the structure of the Criteria, click here
Your boss asked you to find out if he or she should look at Baldrige, which means you need to know what it is, who uses it, how it works, whether it can help your organization, what it’s going to cost, how long it’s going to take, what good it will do you, how to win the Baldrige Award, and where to start.
What is Baldrige?
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 (click here to read the Criteria booklet), which have seven Categories that cover everything important in a management system:
- Strategic Planning
- Customer Focus
- Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
- Workforce Focus
- Process Management
Who uses it?
Any organization that wants to systematically improve its management system. You can find a complete list of Baldrige Award recipients here. It doesn’t matter what size your organization is or what it does, you can use the Baldrige model and process to improve.
How does it work?
Organizations assess their management systems using the Baldrige Criteria to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. They prioritize the opportunities for improvement and develop action …Steve George | 0 comments | Continued
From 1990 to 2006, 63 of the 66 Baldrige Award recipients scored between 500 and 725 points on the independent examiner reviews of their applications. One outlier scored around 460 points while two came in around 800 points. The scores, released in a report by the Baldrige program, confirm a widely shared belief that an organization’s management system becomes a competitive advantage when it can earn at least 500 points.
The data also show variation in the quality of applications by sector. The average score for the 278 manufacturing applicants over those 17 years was 478 points. The 158 service applicants averaged 467 points. The mean for the 314 small business applicants was 354 points.
Among the newer sectors, the 205 healthcare applicants averaged 414 points, the 134 education applicants averaged 381 points, and the 10 nonprofits averaged 454 points.
I would be interested in your reaction to the data. For example, does it mean that manufacturing applicants generally (a) had higher levels of quality than the applicants from other sectors, (b) got higher marks because examiners understood their stories better, or (c) got a break because the Criteria favored the way manufacturing works? Or is there a (d)?
By the way, according to the report, the highest score in that 17-year period was 811. The lowest was 51.
To find out how a Baldrige …Steve George | 0 comments | Continued
“Good is the enemy of great.”
I’ve used that line more than once when talking to senior leaders. It’s the first sentence of Jim Collins’ groundbreaking book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap (HarperCollins, 2001).
I then add, “Baldrige is the enemy of good.”
An organization that considers itself good at what it does is unlikely to score more than 300 points of a possible 1,000 on its first Baldrige assessment. Most organizations respond to this performance in one of three ways:
- They discount the validity of the score and walk away from the Baldrige process.
- They make the comfortable improvements and leave the basic systems untouched.
- They pursue performance excellence by transforming their management systems.
Those who choose “a” or “b” may continue to be good but they are unlikely to become great unless they are compelled to change. But then, not every organization has greatness in its future.
Jim Collins has recognized the impact Baldrige can have: “I see the Baldrige process as a powerful set of mechanisms for disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action to create great organizations that produce exceptional results.”
Baldrige is the enemy of good.Steve George | 0 comments | Continued
That’s what Iredell-Statesville Schools (ISS) scored in its first Baldrige assessment in 2002.
It’s rare to see the starting point for an organization. I mean, who wants to tell people they scored 83 points out of 1000. Kudos to ISS for making this public and for the dramatic progress they made over the next six years. In 2008, ISS received the Baldrige Award and reported its score at 626 points.
I’ve frequently been asked by senior leaders whose organizations are new to Baldrige how long it can take to win the Award. I tell them three years to never.
Three years is impossibly short unless an organization is process-oriented, has been collecting data on key measures for awhile, and is committed to making major improvements quickly. Never is the more likely result because few leadership teams have the desire or attention span to stay the course.
Based on experience, I think it typically takes five to six years to get from “how do you spell Baldrige” to receiving the Award. It takes that long because an organization needs time to identify opportunities for improvement, design or redesign processes that address them, track results and make refinements, collect data on key measures, and find benchmarks. You have to be good at everything and great at a few things to get a Baldrige Award, and that doesn’t …Steve George | 0 comments | Continued