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The Rose Bowl is often referred to as “the granddaddy of them all.” Since 1902, it’s where champions of the nation’s top-rated college football teams were determined, and is often considered the most prestigious of all the bowl games. If there was ever a “granddaddy” of performance excellence programs, in my estimation it’s the Baldrige, which was established by Congress in 1987 to promote quality awareness.
From this the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was created to recognize successful U.S. organizations for their quality and business achievements. Now in its 25th year, the award is America’s highest honor for innovation and performance excellence. Even with reduced financial support from the government, the Baldrige Award continues to flourish, which is a tribute to Baldrige Performance Excellence Program director, Harry Hertz, and his talented management team.
During the award process, an organization must use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and submit its achievements. Each applicant receives approximately 1,000 hours of review. The organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement are provided in a detailed report. The highest-scoring applicants receive site visits by Baldrige examiners to quantify how well the criteria are being applied. For the current award cycle, 12 U.S. organizations have received site visits.
The Baldrige Program received 39 applications this year: one manufacturer, three service companies, two small businesses, three education organizations, 25 healthcare organizations, and five nonprofits. From these the Baldrige Panel of Judges have selected for the final review one organization from manufacturing, one from service, two small businesses, one in education, five in healthcare, and two from the nonprofit category. As one can see from the number of applications in the healthcare category, hospitals have become totally immersed in the criteria and value the feedback provides.
One of the changes for the current cycle is that applicants must have first won a state quality award. For that reason, the number of applicants may have decreased somewhat, but the quality of applicants has increased. In fact, the number of site visits for 2012 compares favorably with the number of site visits in previous years. A 40-percent decrease in program staff, due to budget cuts, necessitates the state quality award prerequisite. Frankly, this allows the state programs to have a larger role in the process. Applicants who first apply at the state level have a better understanding of the Baldrige Award process.
Congratulations to Baldrige on its 25th anniversary. If your organization is looking for a method to jump-start quality processes, look no further than the granddaddy of them all—the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.