Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
For twenty five years, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program has been associated primarily with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, but Baldrige is so much more than just an award.
Many organizations are simply not ready now or may have no interest ever in applying for a Baldrige Award. They embrace an improvement mindset but want to focus on one aspect of their business or one product line or one work system or one challenge, etc. They don’t want to embark on a long improvement journey; they want to realize an improvement now.
These organizations might be interested in using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence for incremental or even small improvements that would make a big difference for their customers and other stakeholders. And that’s one of the beauties of the Criteria–it’s divided into categories, which are divided into items. Those items have basic requirements, overall requirements, and areas to address with multiple requirements. Whether the organization has just started improvement strategies or is well along its performance excellence path, it can focus on a high-level (basic requirement) or in-depth (multiple requirement) area of the Criteria that fits how or what it hopes to improve–without embarking on a long improvement journey.
That said, enter the Baldrige Collaborative Assessment, a Baldrige service introduced last year, to help an organization accelerate the improvement of its key processes or customized to focus on a specific organizational priority. A Baldrige examiner team, working directly, face-to-face with the organization’s staff members, identifies the organizations strengths and opportunities for improvement using the Criteria–at the level where the organization would like to focus. The assessment has no connection to the Baldrige Award, which eliminates any competitiveness or tension when the examiner team comes to visit.
Organizational key themes are developed collaboratively that represent the the critical few findings–both key strengths to be leveraged and opportunities for improvement that, if acted on, could have significant impact on organizational performance. Key themes and detailed recommendations are discussed in real-time during a presentation while the examiner team is still on-site.
A follow-up feedback report contains more information on the recommendations, presented by Baldrige Criteria category, that the organization’s staff members found to be most important to address. The follow-up feedback report also contains those recommendations that the organization staff members felt were valuable to act on but would have less impact and could wait until some future time for action.
Finally, in the feedback report are references to award application summaries from recent Baldrige national award recipients who have excelled in particular Criteria items. These references are not intended to prescribe or even suggest practices that would work for the organization; rather, they are intended to spark ideas.
And that’s the whole point of the Baldrige Collaborative Assessment. There is no application or intense focus on an improvement journey that the organization may not desire at the current time. There is simply a desire to improve and to work collaboratively with trained Baldrige experts on what you hope to improve. No journey required.