"Whither the Baldrige?" Revisited
In response to a question in your June 1996 editorial "Whither the Baldrige?" a large percentage of the military end of the Defense Department does require Baldrige compliance.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Air Force took the Baldrige criteria, colored it "blue" and reprinted it as the Quality Air Force Criteria. At the time of its inception, forward-thinking Air Force leaders recognized the fact that doing things smarter during normal day-to-day operations would free more resources worldwide.

The Air Force ensured implementation of the criteria by conducting Quality Air Force Assessments, where teams highly trained in the Baldrige/Quality Air Force criteria would visit each Air Force, Air National Guard and AF Reserve base to assess how they do business based on the criteria. Cost savings throughout the Air Force number in the millions of dollars.

The culture change continues, and is in fact alive and well in the other services, with both the Navy and Army instituting their own Baldrige-based assessments.
-Major Marcus Jannitto

Regarding the Baldrige Award and the commercialization of the ISO 9000 standard: As someone who has spent 24 years in the quality profession, I applaud the "commercialization" of the ISO 9000 standard. Finally, the message is out and most companies are at last listening. Unlike quality fads of the past, this one makes commercial sense and is going to stick.

As for the Baldrige Award, who really cares? Most people outside the quality profession don't even know what it is, let alone the Europeans, who are leading the world in standardization of quality requirements. What is the point of putting your company in a contest unless it's for customers and profits. Winning an award for quality also puts the thought in people's heads that they're done. Quality is a continuous, changing process, and following the ISO 9000 script is one effective way of keeping quality alive and well in your business.

As for the Baldrige Award, it will eventually die along with many of the other quality fads of the past.
-Jerry Hayden

As chairman of the Granite State Quality Council for the 1996 Granite State Quality Award (New Hampshire's Baldrige-based award), I thank you for recognizing that there is "... little emphasis placed on more comprehensive quality efforts such as the Baldrige Award and state and local quality efforts."

Although state quality awards are growing and expanding, the state organizations are often handicapped by lack of adequate funding for marketing and publicity. Many organizations that might be willing to apply for a state or local award, or be able to contribute financially overlook us because: They are not aware of our existence, they are wrapped up in ISO 9000 preparations, or their customers do not require any information on how they performed in a Baldrige-based award or assessment process.

Also, the Baldrige Award criteria are alive and well in the Defense Department. I am a quality assurance manager for a Navy shore activity and an examiner for the last three years for the Presidential Award for Quality program. The criteria for the Presidential Award for Quality are nearly identical to the Baldrige Award.

Of the six recipients of the award since it was first awarded in 1989, five have been from the Defense Department. Baldrige-style assessments are being performed throughout the department, and some of the Inspector General offices are changing over to Baldrige-based inspections. Many activities are recognizing that the Baldrige framework guides people down the path to organizational excellence-a necessary journey in this era of Defense spending cuts.
-Tom Gilmore

I would submit that the real advantage of the Baldrige Award does not involve the actual winning of the award, but rather in the process that is invoked when moving organizations in that direction. There is nothing available commercially that addresses how to deal with the process itself.

In that regard, the design specification for revision of ISO 9004 (Guideline for Quality Management Systems) requires the presence in the next revision of a method of self-assessment or evaluation for management of organizations to use in planning and achieving quality system improvement. The exact method has not been determined as yet but is likely to utilize a quality system maturity matrix concept. The idea is to provide a vehicle to move the organization from the minimum requirements of ISO 9001 toward quality system excellence.

Because the elements of quality system excellence are generally well-accepted (Baldrige, Deming, EQ awards-as well as state and regional awards), the tool provided in the revised ISO 9004 will use these common elements to offer the cognizant management a clearly defined path for moving in the direction of system excellence. Although the goal of ISO 9004 will be general improvement toward quality system excellence, the self-evaluation method will not require any redirection in approach if the management wishes to pursue one of the recognized quality system awards. Although the ISO 9004 method will not be designed to pursue a specific award, it will create the process of quality system improvement required for the attainment of system excellence associated with any of the recognized awards.

As it stands right now, there is no link/vehicle between the basic quality assurance requirements in ISO 9001 and the method for achieving organizational excellence. In the future, ISO 9004 will be available for use as that link/vehicle by supplying the actual process for the management of any organization to use.
-Lawrence A. Wilson
Intl. Writing Group Co-Chair
ISO/TC176 SC2/WG12 ISO 9004
Atlanta, Georgia

I read your editorial "Whither the Baldrige?" with some concern as to your understanding of the purpose and processes of ISO 9000. There are some important issues that you may have overlooked:

There is no requirement in any of the text of the ISO 9001, ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 series of standards to have a registration (certification) or use the services of a registrar or an external audit service. Most registrars, however, do serve a useful purpose of independent auditing to keep the auditee on the straight and narrow path. [As for other commercial services (e.g., software, manuals, etc.), I believe that most of them will go away quietly the way they came on the scene].

Baldrige and other state award programs lend themselves to commercialism, too. Look at the many books that have been written and published. Likewise, many consultants provide services for Baldrige and the other state award programs.

Achieving ISO 9000 registration is not an achievement in perpetuity (like Baldrige, Excelsior and other state award programs). It is a process that must be continuously followed, improved and validated through periodic internal (and external) audits. These steps are a major difference to Baldrige and other state award programs.

My experience is that most companies go for the Baldrige and other state award programs, at considerable expense, for the wrong reasons. They turn their companies upside-down to win the award, place the "prized trophy" in the lobby and then return to "business as usual."

Those individuals who attempt to compare Baldrige and ISO 9000 activities don't seem to understand that Baldrige deals in the past while ISO 9000 looks at the past, present and future. One of the principal objectives of the ISO 9000 series of standards is that of internal and external customer satisfaction.

Baldrige and other state award programs do not have built-in checkpoints to assure future success. The ISO 9000 series of documents provide structure; they provide an opportunity to structure a company for real growth using a road map based on common sense.
-Dan Epstein