May 21, 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney and Commerce Secretary
Don Evans presented three organizations with Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Awards in recognition of their performance
excellence and quality achievements. Among the winners was
Motorola Inc.’s Commercial, Government and Industrial
A leading supplier of two-way radio products and services,
and integrated communications and information technology
solutions, CGISS’s customers include fire, police
and public service organizations.
In 2001, CGISS reported sales of almost $4 billion. Since
1999, the organization has experienced improved cash flow
of more than 20 percent, vs. an average of 5 percent for
the telecommunications industry. CGISS’s return on
assets is 7 percent, compared to a negative average for
other telecommunications organizations.
What follows is an interview with Robert L. Barnett, executive
vice president reporting to the office of the chairman at
Motorola Inc. He is the former president and CEO of CGISS,
headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois. This is the second
of three interviews with a representative from each 2002
Baldrige Award winner. The first appeared in the July issue
of Quality Digest.
QD: How is this branch of Motorola
different from the one that won in 1988?
The award in 1988
was for all of Motorola. At that point, Baldrige was primarily
focused on the quality of the product as it came out of
the factory. Six Sigma, an effort started by Motorola, was
also underway. Since then, Baldrige has evolved, and now
there are seven criteria that you have to address. So, although
quality is one of the major metrics that runs through all
of the criteria, the criteria by which the Baldrige is judged
are what have really changed. Likewise, those have evolved
at Motorola since 1988.
QD: How well do Six Sigma and
the Baldrige process work together?
Six Sigma helps
you gauge quality in several different areas, not just in
manufacturing. There are many different processes related
to leadership, strategy and customers, and Six Sigma can
be used in any of these categories to assess how well the
process is working and what the business results are. We
have an ongoing evaluation and improvement of processes
to allow us to get better results.
QD: So the Baldrige journey
for Motorola started years ago?
Since 1988, we
moved from a focus on quality to one of performance excellence.
In 1999, we started asking, “How can we really go
after performance excellence using the revised holistic
view of Baldrige to address all these criteria plus ourbusiness
QD: Would you say your experience
has been more difficult this time around than it was in
In terms of difficulty,
there are more criteria by which to be evaluated, but each
is a substantial movement forward for the organization.
So, 1988 was a milestone for Motorola as it addressed quality.
Now we’ve received the Baldrige using the new criteria,
and it’s a milestone for Motorola in terms of performance
excellence. We will continue to improve in areas that we
know we need to improve as well as those noted in the feedback
report from the Baldrige examiners.
QD: What results have you seen
since you announced that you were going after the Baldrige?
Our approach to
writing this application was, “These are things that
we do all the time.” Although it’s a 50-page
application, putting it together--in all candor--was not
that much of an effort. But, we had been using the Baldrige
criteria for four years and assessing the operation, evaluating
it, finding out where we could make improvements and making
the improvements. So, when we got ready to write the application,
we were dealing with things we’d been doing for years.
The effort to keep doing these things over four years was
QD: How do you feel about the
performance excellence criteria?
Last year was
the first time an education organization won. This year
marks the first time a health care organization has won.
But the criteria have been out there for a while. Although
the criteria may be slightly different, the focus applies
to performance excellence, whether it’s in health
care, education or manufacturing. They apply to everyone.
What is ultimately going to be unique is how these businesses
start to link. Motorola is going to be very interested in
whether health care can move toward performance excellence.
For us, health care is a huge expense. So if we can find
health care that’s moving in that direction, there
will be more focus on customers, we’ll be more efficient
and we’ll have higher quality. All of these things
will help drive the overall nature of competition.
QD: Do you predict that Baldrige
criteria will become more difficult as more companies apply?
I think the criteria
will continue to evolve. For example, one of the areas that’s
not specifically written in the 2002 criteria but will be
in 2003 criteria deals with ethics. Examiners want to know
that if you’re judged worthy to win the award, you
won’t show up on the front page of the Wall Street
Journal because of unethical practices. That would be very
Ethics has always been a piece of the Baldrige criteria,
but now it really captures things that have happened recently
in various businesses. The criteria basically asks: “Is
what you’re saying really true? Are your accounting
records really what they say they are?” Because of
this addition to the criteria, the bar gets raised. You
can’t win the award unless you’re strong in
all areas of business.
QD: How important is the feedback
The feedback helped
us understand areas where we’re strong and some areas
where the examiners said, “We understand exactly what
you’re doing, but we suggest that you move in a different
One of the suggestions I thought was interesting is our
work with communities. Motorola is involved in schools,
the United Way, hospitals and a number of other community
projects. Communities are one of our key stakeholders. But,
the examiners said: “It isn’t clear to us how
this fits in strategically. If a community is a target group,
how does that flow through your strategy?” We were
doing lots of things in the community and making a difference,
but we hadn’t tied that as strategically important.
That was an “ah ha” moment for me in terms of
thinking about what we should be doing for each of our stakeholders.
QD: What’s been the most
challenging aspect of the Baldrige journey?
Staying with it
when other immediate crises may have come up. We’d
say, “Yes, that’s important, but does it make
sense to attack this issue using Baldrige criteria?”
Another challenge is making people believe that Baldrige
is the way to do it. If you really understand that Baldrige
is a sound way to run a business, the award is almost free.
During the examination, a lot of people at Motorola said
they finally understood how their pieces tied together with
other areas of the business.
QD: What advice do you give
to people who really want to do this but don’t know
where to start?
It comes down
to leadership. You must sustain the effort through good
and bad; never take your eye off the ball. Everybody struggles
sometimes, and that’s when you look to leadership.
QD: Tell our readers about
your site visit.
During the site
visit, you have to talk about the things that you do, namely
the things you put in your application. But you should also
be able to talk about other things you’re doing. It’s
hard to write in 50 pages everything 14,000 people do all
year long. What was interesting is that our feedback says,
“Compared to scoring categories during the consensus
review, the site visit findings would have resulted in scoring
increase in categories 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.” We
were very excited about that. Now we’re working on
areas where we can make performance improvement. We’ve
got about four or five substantial projects that we’re
working on that will make us even better.
This interview was conducted by Kennedy Smith, Quality
Digest’s associate editor. Letters to the editor regarding
this article can be e-mailed to email@example.com.