- Who was Malcolm Baldrige?
Malcolm Baldrige was Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until his death in a rodeo accident in July 1987. Baldrige was a proponent of quality management as a key to this country's prosperity and long-term strength. He took a personal interest in the quality improvement act that was eventually named after him and helped draft one of the early versions. In recognition of his contributions, Congress named the award in his honor.
- What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?
The Baldrige Award is given by the President of the United States to businesses-manufacturing and service, small and large-and to education and health care organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management, and business results.
Congress established the award program in 1987 to recognize U.S. organizations for their achievements in quality and performance and to raise awareness about the importance of quality and performance excellence as a competitive edge. The award is not given for specific products or services. Three awards may be given annually in each of these categories: manufacturing, service, small business and, starting in 1999, education and health care.
While the Baldrige Award and the Baldrige recipients are the very visible centerpiece of the U.S. quality movement, a broader national quality program has evolved around the award and its criteria. A report, Building on Baldrige: American Quality for the 21st Century, by the private Council on Competitiveness, said, "More than any other program, the Baldrige Quality Award is responsible for making quality a national priority and disseminating best practices across the United States."
The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages the Baldrige National Quality Program in close cooperation with the private sector.
- Why was the award established?
In the early and mid-1980s, many industry and government leaders saw that a renewed emphasis on quality was no longer an option for American companies but a necessity for doing business in an ever expanding, and more demanding, competitive world market. But many American businesses either did not believe quality mattered for them or did not know where to begin. The Baldrige Award was envisioned as a standard of excellence that would help U.S. organizations achieve world-class quality.
- How is the Baldrige Award achieving its goals?
The criteria for the Baldrige Award have played a major role in achieving the goals established by Congress. They now are accepted widely, not only in the United States but also around the world, as the standard for performance excellence. The criteria are designed to help organizations enhance their competitiveness by focusing on two goals: delivering ever improving value to customers and improving overall organizational performance.
The award program has proven to be a remarkably successful government and private-sector team effort. The annual government investment of about $5 million is leveraged by a contribution of over $100 million from private-sector and state and local organizations, including $10 million raised by private industry to help launch the program and the time and efforts of hundreds of largely private-sector volunteers.
The cooperative nature of this joint government/private-sector team is perhaps best captured by the award's Board of Examiners. Each year, more than 300 experts from industry, educational institutions, governments at all levels, and non-profit organizations volunteer many hours reviewing applications for the award, conducting site visits, and providing each applicant with an extensive feedback report citing strengths and opportunities to improve. In addition, board members have given thousands of presentations on quality management, performance improvement, and the Baldrige Award.
The Baldrige Award winners also have taken seriously their charge to be quality advocates. Their efforts to educate and inform other companies and organizations on the benefits of using the Baldrige Award framework and criteria have far exceeded expectations. To date, the recipients have given more than 30,000 presentations reaching thousands of organizations.
- What are the Baldrige criteria?
The Baldrige performance excellence criteria are a framework that any organization can use to improve overall performance. Seven categories make up the award criteria:
Leadership - Examines how senior executives guide the organization and how the organization addresses its responsibilities to the public and practices good citizenship.
Strategic planning - Examines how the organization sets strategic directions and how it determines key action plans.
Customer and market focus - Examines how the organization determines requirements and expectations of customers and markets.
Information and analysis - Examines the management, effective use, and analysis of data and information to support key organization processes and the organization's performance management system.
Human resource focus - Examines how the organization enables its workforce to develop its full potential and how the workforce is aligned with the organization's objectives.
Process management - Examines aspects of how key production/delivery and support processes are designed, managed, and improved.
Business results - Examines the organization's performance and improvement in its key business areas: customer satisfaction, financial and marketplace performance, human resources, supplier and partner performance, and operational performance. The category also examines how the organization performs relative to competitors.
The criteria are used by thousands of organizations of all kinds for self-assessment and training and as a tool to develop performance and business processes. Approximately 2 million copies have been distributed since the first edition in 1988, and heavy reproduction and electronic access multiply that number many times.
For many organizations, using the criteria results in better employee relations, higher productivity, greater customer satisfaction, increased market share, and improved profitability. According to a report by the Conference Board, a business membership organization, "A majority of large U.S. firms have used the criteria of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for self-improvement, and the evidence suggests a long-term link between use of the Baldrige criteria and improved business performance."