How to Do a Baldrige Assessment

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

I am frequently asked about the elements of a Baldrige assessment, whether conducted as a self-assessment or externally conducted. The topic came up again during a discussion I assessmentwas part of last week. In particular, what is the relationship among the various components of a Baldrige assessment. Here is my simple explanation for the three major components:

  1. The Organizational Profile (Category P in the Baldrige Criteria): This section is about what’s important to you. You describe your organization and its operating environment, key relationships, competitive environment, and strategic context.
  2. The Baldrige Criteria (Categories 1-7) responses: This section is about how you are accomplishing what’s important to you. In a systematic fashion starting with leadership and ending with results, you describe how your organization does what’s important to you for successful enterprise management and sustainability.
  3. The Scoring Guidelines: This section allows you to assess how well you are accomplishing what’s important to you. The scoring guidelines allow you to assess the maturity of your processes and their deployment, and the breadth and significance of the results you are achieving.

We always speak of a systems approach to organizational performance management. The full system is a combination of all three pieces. Without all three it would be neither holistic nor a system.

The most common incomplete use of the system is ignoring the Scoring Guidelines. They are the dimension that complements the seven categories of the Criteria. The Scoring Guidelines allow you to evaluate how mature your approaches are, how well you deploy them, how systematically you evaluate and improve them, and how successfully you align them with what’s important to you. For results, the Scoring Guidelines help you evaluate your current performance, your performance changes over time, how well your results compare with other organizations, and how successfully they address what’s important to you.

Sustainability requires knowing what you are doing (the criteria), how well you are doing it (the scoring guidelines), and how relevant it is to your needs (the organizational profile).

Organizations frequently and appropriately start with just the organizational profile, because you need to know who you are before you can add more detail. In a recent Blogrige interview with Lisa Muller from Jenks Public Schools, she describes the value of the organizational profile.

But once you know who you are, assessment requires the how (criteria responses) and the how well (scoring)!

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5 Responses to How to Do a Baldrige Assessment

  1. Cherryl Paul says:


    Once again you provided me with some necessary “mental flossing” as its easy to overlook using the Scoring Guidelines. It was nice to run into you both at the Quest Conference and then again at NIST.
    At our monthly K-12 leadership meeting tomorrow we will be using First, Put a stake in the Ground as our framework for discussion.

  2. Barry Johnson says:

    Considering “How to Do a Baldrige Assessment,” also includes estimating the process and resources — who, what, when, where, and how — users need to consider when they seek to describe “what’s important to you” in the OP, “how you are accomplishing what’s important to you” in the Categories, and “how well you are accomplishing what’s important to you” relative to the Scoring Guidelines.

    This might be a good time to remind readers who heed your “sage” advice (pun intended) of the benefits of the Collaborative Assessment offering. A CA is one way to ensure that the “description” outcomes conform to the parameters you outlined above. The details of this level of “how” — process and resources — may not be as obvious to many Criteria users. Doing a Baldrige assessment — no matter how go about it — always results in an organization getting to “know itself.”

    The real value in any “know thyself” process is finding out if you have the will –not mere velleity — to do something about it.

  3. SAJULAL S L says:

    Hello Harry,

    Thank you for such a simple yet very useful summary. I am preparing my organisation for the Baldridge assessment in the next couple of years and found these points very helpful. I thinks this gives a step by step flow on how to proceed in the exciting journey.

    Thank you.
    Sajulal S L

  4. Michael Voss says:


    Thanks for your reminder of the integration of the 3 major components. I have found a tree analogy useful in visualizing the various components. The values (roots) connect through the categories (trunk, branches, leaves) and to the OP (environment – e.g. water, air, soil, other trees). The scoring is depicted by the size of the tree, relative sizes of branches etc.
    I find many teams are unable to grasp the ‘system perspective’ – and without systems thinking types will be unable to carry out an accurate assessment. Visualisation I find helps greatly.


  5. F. LeRoy Walser says:

    Harry, you did it again. Thanks for the insightful perspective. This will be very useful in introducing the Baldrige to my classes. Greetings from Oklahoma. Come visit.

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