Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
On June 8, 1987, Business Week published a special report on quality:
Improving quality requires nothing less than an upheaval in corporate culture. . . . Truly improving quality is a long, hard slog, and it frequently carries a steep up-front cost. . . . But the initial investment in equipment and training is well worth making. Eventually, the savings from not having to make repairs or to pay off warranties or to settle liability suits far exceed the costs of a quality program. And the biggest returns by far come when productivity, market share, and profits rise.
But in June 1987, there was no U.S. national quality program. There was a group of “purely techies” at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) working on measurement and standards services intended to help the manufacturing industry meet its challenges.
And there was growing sentiment across the United States that the country and its corporations needed to address their quality problems. Manufacturers were concerned, Congress was concerned, President Reagan was concerned, and the current Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige was concerned, saying, “What we need are some manufacturers and engineers calling the shots if America is to compete effectively in world markets. . . . We have to encourage American executives to get out of their boardrooms and onto the factory floor to learn how their products are made and how they can be made better.”
Learn how these worlds collided on the national stage, with scientific thinkers, labor leaders, CEOs, politicians, academicians, quality experts, state and local leaders, and others coming together to form an entirely unique public-private partnership, with cross-sector thinking, broad assessments, and other collaborations that had never been tried before.
Read how the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program was born from the people who brought it all together.
What are your earliest memories and stories of the Baldrige Program? Feel free to share your reflections here.