Changes in the Baldrige Criteria

Those with an interest in the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award should note that the criteria for the prize have been significantly changed this year, much more so than in past years.

            The award, established in 1987, is intended to recognize U.S. organizations for achievements in quality and performance, as well as to enhance U.S. competitiveness.

            The award program has its critics, as noted in a previous posting about a controversy over one of last year’s recipients. However, the recent criticism concerns whether a particular company should have received the award last fall, not the award criteria. Also, the changes in the criteria were also announced last fall and had clearly been in development since before last year’s awards were announced.

            Among this year’s changes:

  • The Senior Leadership section now includes questions on performance measures that senior leaders regularly review and how they use the reviews for action.
  • Strategy Deployment has been modified to clearly address strategic challenges and advantages, as well as how strategic objectives address opportunities for product and service, operational, and business model innovation.
  • Strategy Deployment also has two added focus areas: ensuring adequate financial and other resources for accomplishment of action plans and ensuring that human resource plans address workforce capability and capacity needs.
  • Customer and Market Knowledge has an enhanced focus on capturing and using the voice of the customer to become more customer-focused.
  • Workforce Focus is a totally redesigned category, with two items. Workforce Engagement focuses on workforce enrichment, workforce and leader development, and assessment of workforce engagement. Workforce Environment addresses workforce capability and capacity, and workforce climate.
  • Process Management is totally redesigned. It now includes Work Systems Design, addressing core competencies, work process design and emergency readiness, and it includes Work Process Management and Improvement.

There are more changes. Virtually every section includes substantive revisions.

            We sell both regular and pocket versions of Baldrige Award Winning Quality – 16th Edition: How to Interpret the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, by Mark Graham Brown.

            Personally, my experience with the Baldrige award is limited, so I’m interested in reading any comments you may have. Do you regard the program as worthwhile? Do you have any reaction to the changes this year? Let us know.


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