Celebrating 30 Years of Improving Organizational Performance

Baldrige flag flying beneath the American flag at NIST 8/21/17

Sunday, August 20, 2017, was the 30th anniversary of the signing of Public Law 100-107, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act. This legislation established what is one of the most, if not the most, effective and heavily leveraged public-private partnerships in the United States.

The most important concept here is “partnership”—or perhaps “community” says it better. Below, I’ll explain some of what the partnership has accomplished over the years, but the first thing to recognize is that none of it would have been possible without the incredible support of the many members of the Baldrige community:

  • the amazing volunteer examiners, judges, and overseers
  • the Alliance for Performance Excellence member programs serving organizations in all the U.S. states
  • the Baldrige consultant community, which helps so many organizations learn and improve
  • ASQ and the Baldrige Foundation, which have supported the Baldrige Program for nearly 30 years
  • the Baldrige staff, a true team dedicated to the program and its purpose
  • and of course, the thousands of individuals and organizations committed to pursuing and promoting performance excellence

I am humbled and proud to be part of the unique, vast community of public- and private-sector organizations and individuals that have participated in the Baldrige Award process or otherwise supported organizational improvement using the Baldrige framework. The passion for innovation and excellence demonstrated by the diverse members of this public-private partnership binds and inspires us all.

I also want to acknowledge the many outstanding leaders who have brought their organizations down the path to performance excellence by adopting the Baldrige Excellence Framework. It takes tremendous humility and courage to open yourself and your organization to a rigorous Baldrige evaluation, whether it is performed internally or by trained Baldrige examiners. These leaders exemplify the Core Values and Concepts found in the Baldrige framework:

  • They put people first (employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders).
  • They embody ethics and transparency, and focus on success, mission accomplishment, and creating value.
  • They and their organizations utilize data and information in decision making to continuously learn and improve, and to enable innovation.

In short, they are committed to achieving excellence for themselves, their organizations, and those they serve.

Thursday, August 20, 1987 President Reagan signs the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act in honor of “Mac” Baldrige, the late Secretary of Commerce, who I believe also embodied those same qualities.

Intended to help improve our national competitiveness in a global economy, the Baldrige Program—managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and funded through fees earned and financial support from the Baldrige Foundation—was initially tasked with encouraging and enabling businesses to improve the quality of their products and services, something sorely needed by the mid-eighties. We would accomplish this daunting task through a three-fold mission:

  1. Establish a nationally recognized and accepted standard of quality and performance excellence (the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence)
  2. Manage a Presidential recognition for role-model organizations that perform very well against that standard (the Baldrige Award)
  3. Foster the understanding and use of that standard and share the best practices from role-model organizations to improve performance and competitiveness broadly (an array of resources and services)

What has the partnership accomplished over the past 30 years?

  • Evolution of the framework and Criteria to address the changing drivers of long-term success and sustainability for businesses of all kinds
  • Expansion to address the needs of health care, education, and government/nonprofits—and more recently to help address critical needs in cybersecurity and improve communities across the nation
  • Improvement in hundreds of thousands of organizations in all sectors in business performance and in the quality, costs, and outcomes of health care, education, and nonprofit organizations
  • Millions of downloads and hundreds of thousands of hard copies of the Baldrige Criteria distributed
  • Dozens of state, regional, and international programs modeled after Baldrige, helping to spread excellence across the nation and the world
  • Tens of thousands of examiners trained in the use of the Criteria and Baldrige evaluation process
  • Nearly 1,700 applications for the Baldrige Award and tens of thousands of applications to state, regional, and sector-specific programs
  • 113 Baldrige Awards earned by 31 large manufacturers, 26 small businesses, 22 health care organizations, 16 large service organizations, 11 education organizations, and 7 nonprofits
  • Over 55,000 presentations by award recipients on their best practices

While all of this is very impressive, if you drill down from this 30,000-foot level, you see that engaging in the Baldrige process does much more than help organizations achieve their goals. It literally improves the lives of hundreds of millions of employees, customers, patients, students, and community members. Jobs are created, saved, and improved; customers and community members receive better products and services for lower costs; patients receive better care with a better patient experience at a lower cost; and more students of all kinds graduate, receive a better education, and enhanced opportunities for their future.

My deepest thanks and appreciation to all who have contributed to improving our nation through their involvement with the Baldrige Program and our extended community over the past 30 years!

Posted in Award Process, Events, and Training, Baldrige Excellence Framework (Criteria), Community | 2 Comments

Why Try the Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder?

By Jacqueline Calhoun

Which cybersecurity-related activities are most important to your business strategy and critical service delivery? How do you assess the effectiveness and efficiency of your use of cybersecurity standards, guidelines, and practices? To answer these questions and build excellence in your cybersecurity risk management system, consider a self-assessment with a new tool called the Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder.

Organizations of all types are becoming more vulnerable to cyber threats due to their increasing dependence on computers, networks, programs and applications, social media, and data. Security breaches can negatively impact organizations and their workforce, customers, and other stakeholders, with both financial and reputational damage potentially lasting many years. Balancing the conflicting demands of connectivity and accessibility with security, reliability, and confidentiality means that risk management and measuring the effectiveness of cybersecurity practices is critical.

And the situation is only going to get worse as the Internet of Things is becoming more critical for business owners to understand–and act on–than ever before. “The Internet of Things is the encapsulation of the next-generation technologies that will touch nearly all facets of our day-to-day lives,” says Chester Kennedy, CEO of the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research. “The arrival of the sensor era is happening at a frenetic pace.”1

The Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder tool enables organizations to better understand and improve the effectiveness of their cybersecurity risk management efforts in light of these new vulnerabilities. This voluntary self-assessment tool is based on the detailed Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (Cybersecurity Framework), managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Information Technology Laboratory, Applied Cybersecurity Division, and the Baldrige Excellence Framework, developed by the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

What makes the Builder different from various other self-assessment tools? By combining concepts in the Cybersecurity Framework and the Baldrige Framework, the Builder

  • Focuses on how your management of cybersecurity risk affects and is affected by every part of your organization—your leaders and their actions, your strategy, your customers, and your workforce, as well as your cybersecurity operations. Thus, your organization is encouraged to develop integrated cyber-related approaches that are aligned with its needs in all these areas.
  • Focuses on (a) measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of your cybersecurity-related approaches in all areas of your organization and (b) evaluating the results they achieve. This helps you to recognize the cause-effect linkages between your approaches and your cybersecurity-related results.
  • Serves as a “door” to the comprehensive standards, guidelines, practices, and references in the Cybersecurity Framework, and helps you assess how effectively you are using it.
  • Is adaptable and scalable. It can be used whether your organization is small or large; is involved in service, manufacturing, government or nonprofit activities, health care, or education; or has one office or multiple sites across the globe. It is most valuable as a voluntary assessment of an entire organization’s cybersecurity risk management program, but it is also useful in assessing a subunit, multiple subunits, or parts of an organization.

The Builder includes an Organizational Context section and six interrelated process categories and a results category:

  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Customers
  • Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
  • Workforce
  • Operations
  • Results

By challenging yourself with the questions that make up the Builder, you explore how you are accomplishing what is important to your organization’s cybersecurity risk management system.

Use the Builder to achieve the following:

  • Improve communication. The Builder can help by creating a common language for assessment and improvement of your cybersecurity risk management system.
  • Conduct an initial assessment by answering the questions in the Organizational Context section. If you identify topics for which conflicting, little, or no information is available, use these topics for action planning.
  • Conduct a full self-assessment of your cybersecurity risk management system.
  • Apply the assessment rubric to determine whether your organization’s cybersecurity maturity level is reactive, early, mature, or role model. The completed evaluation can lead to an action plan for implementing improvements.

To learn more

If you use the Builder, we invite you to submit lessons learned and comments at www.nist.gov/baldrige/products-services/baldrige-cybersecurity-initiative.

This is the first in a series of blogs on the Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder. Future blogs will focus on using the tool to improve your cybersecurity policies and operations in the areas of leadership, strategy, customers, measurement, workforce, operations, and results.



Posted in Baldrige Excellence Framework (Criteria), Cybersecurity, Sector Focused, Self-Assessing | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Doctor Who Launched an Innovative Surgery Center during His Baldrige Fellowship

By Christine Schaefer

Dr. Brett Simon’s learning experiences as a Baldrige Executive Fellow in the 2014–2015 cohort paralleled his on-the-job learning at the start of his leadership of a new, groundbreaking cancer treatment facility. In the following interview, he shares how he used the Baldrige Excellence Framework (which includes the Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence) to enhance planning for the innovative surgical hospital he directs in New York City.

head shot

Brett A. Simon, M.D., Ph.D. Photo courtesy of Memorial Sloan Kettering; used with permission.

  1. What inspired your capstone project?
  2. I was just about to move to a new position when I started the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program in April 2014, so my capstone was essentially my new job! I joined Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center as the director of the Josie Robertson Surgery Center (JRSC), a novel short-stay surgical hospital, while it was still under construction.I was tasked with completing the planning and providing strategic and operational leadership for the facility. This was an especially exciting opportunity because the MSK leadership was committed to making JRSC an innovation center, which would be dedicated to pushing the boundaries in performing increasingly complex cancer surgery in the ambulatory (single overnight stay) setting, with a focus on a superlative patient experience, efficiency, and data-driven continuous improvement.
    photo of exterior of building

    Josie Robertson Surgery Center. Photo courtesy of Memorial Sloan Kettering; used with permission.

    Since my job was essentially to build out this new organization from the ground up, learning about and visiting high-performing organizations through the Baldrige Fellows program provided amazing insights and examples that were literally “just in time” for my work at JRSC. My capstone then became three of the elements of building this organization: (1) articulating the goals and vision; (2) recruiting the “right” workforce; and (3) defining the priorities for management systems and data collection to support a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

    2. What were some milestones of your project? How did feedback from sharing your capstone progress with other Fellows help you, if applicable? 

    My capstone timeline very much tracked key milestones in building out the JRSC program. My first milestone of drafting the Organizational Profile [the preface of the Baldrige Criteria] paralleled my own learning about the organization I had just joined and triggered me to ask different and deeper questions than I would have asked without its comprehensive and objective guidelines.

    Next, revising this Organizational Profile together with my newly recruited leadership team at JRSC provided a unified starting point for establishing our organization’s mission, vision, and values. We then established a paradigm for staff recruitment based on these values, defined competencies, and cultural compatibility. These same principles fed into defining both internal and external communications strategies and messaging—another milestone in my Baldrige Fellows capstone project.

    I found that having to articulate and defend these plans and processes against the Baldrige framework, combined with feedback and advice I received from other Fellows and the Baldrige team, allowed me to tap into a wealth and breadth of knowledge, varied perspectives, and experience that l would not otherwise have had access to. Because my program evolved from concept to execution during the fellowship, the advice allowed my work plans to improve in real time!

    3. How will changes you’ve led improve your organization for the long term? Could you please describe any results or impacts so far of your project?

  3. The JRSC opened on schedule 18 months ago and rapidly ramped up to full speed. Since then, we have performed over 11,000 surgeries—38 percent of which involved patients staying overnight—and have demonstrated outstanding performance on all measures, including quality and safety (e.g., extremely low patient transfers, urgent care visits, and hospital readmission rates), operational efficiency (including on-time starts, turnovers, case cancellations, and supply-chain metrics), and patient satisfaction (e.g., patient-reported outcomes, satisfaction survey responses, and spontaneous communications such as letters from patients and blog posts). About 75 percent of eligible surgical cases are now performed here at JRSC, significantly decompressing the demand on overnight beds and operating room (OR) capacity at MSK’s main hospital six blocks away.
  4. Operating Room inside the Josie Robertson Surgery Center. Photo courtesy of Memorial Sloan Kettering; used with permission.


Since we are a small, contained, and nominally nimble subset of a large and traditional academic medical center, one of our goals is to develop and test new processes and technologies for eventual spread to the greater organization.  Already we have been able to transfer new electronic nursing documentation that enables structured data collection for decision support and clinical pathway management; patient and family communication monitor screens (and soon, real-time text notifications); standardized preoperative patient evaluation and preparation; a new model for dedicated OR physician assistant support; and the use of a real-time locating system interfaced to the electronic medical record that automates data collection and communication to facilitate flow and keep staff members focused on patients rather than computers.

Our work with electronic, patient-reported, post-operative symptom tracking has led to a federal research grant (through the nonprofit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute; PCORI) for studying different ways of managing and acting on these patient responses. The system we built to do this is being adapted and scaled to other areas of cancer care where patients have significant symptoms, such as chemotherapy.

4. What were your key learnings from the Baldrige Executive Fellows program?

As a physician who backed into administration from a clinical and research background, the Baldrige Executive Fellows program provided two important perspectives for me. First, it presents a compact introduction to the Baldrige framework, which is in itself an amazingly helpful approach to understanding how organizations work and how they work effectively (or don’t). Second, the insights I received from visiting Baldrige Award winners, meeting their teams and witnessing their processes, and discussing these observations and the journey to get there with the leadership all solidified the theory into real practice.

For me, concepts around defining culture (“stated beliefs AND observed behaviors”) and building the right culture (“screen for skills, recruit for culture”) directly informed my actions. I also shamelessly borrowed ideas I learned during the Fellows program around communication, staff and leadership huddles, the voice of the customer, cascading goals, measurement, and valuing workforce members. I even kept a copy of the “Baldrige Core Values and Leadership Behaviors” posted above my desk!

5. Could you please describe the value/benefits you see of the Baldrige Excellence Framework to health care organizations like yours today?

I think that many health care organizations do many of elements of the Baldrige framework very well. However, through the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program I learned and fully agree that using this framework to make sure that all the elements are addressed is essential to building and improving an effective organization.

Posted in Award Process, Events, and Training, Baldrige Excellence Framework (Criteria), Impact of Baldrige, Sector Focused | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Baldrige Award Judges’ Panel: Interview with New Member Mary Kay Fyda-Mar

By Christine Schaefer

Next Wednesday, the Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award will meet to decide which 2017 Baldrige Award applicants will receive site visits as part of the process for identifying national role models. Of the 12 judges on the panel, four were appointed this year. Following is an interview of new judge Mary Kay Fyda-Mar, who is retired from The Boeing Company and resides in California.

Portrait Photo

Mary Kay Fyda-Mar


1. What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?

I first became familiar with the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program from a Baldrige Award applicant’s perspective as director of business excellence for Boeing Air Force Systems in 2005. At that time, the Defense side of Boeing was on a Baldrige journey, and two of our divisions (Airlift & Tankers and Aerospace Support) had been Baldrige Award recipients. My responsibilities included using the Baldrige framework to improve our performance, and I led the team that wrote our Air Force Systems application for the [Baldrige-based] California Awards for Performance Excellence (CAPE).

I became an examiner for CAPE in 2006 and for the national Baldrige program in 2007. In later years, I served as a judge and ethics advisor for CAPE. Each of these experiences contributed to my appreciation of the power of the Baldrige program, so I am delighted to now serve as a judge for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.


2. How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework (including the Criteria for Performance Excellence) as valuable to organizations in the manufacturing sector?

The Baldrige framework is valuable to organizations in any sector, because it provides a systems view of the elements that are crucial to any organization’s success. While I applaud the large number of applicants in recent years from health care and other sectors, it is unfortunate that the manufacturing sector is not embracing the Baldrige framework as much as it could.

This framework has evolved over the years to reflect the leading edge of validated management practice, including increased emphasis on intelligent risk taking, innovation, employee engagement, and cybersecurity. I believe that these changes make the Baldrige framework an effective tool to address manufacturing-sector challenges such as transformative technologies and workforce skills gaps.

3. How do you apply Baldrige principles or concepts these days?

As a retiree, I no longer work in the manufacturing sector. However, I find Baldrige concepts to be very useful as I serve on the boards of various nonprofit organizations. For example, I used the Organizational Profile structure in developing a description of a local arts organization for use in fundraising. In addition, I incorporated elements from category 2 of the Baldrige Criteria to facilitate strategic planning sessions for a local nonprofit theater company. As I mentioned above, I believe the framework is a useful tool to achieve success in any organization, large or small.

4. As a judge, what are your hopes for the judging process or what would you like to tell applicants and potential Baldrige Award applicants about the rigor of the process?

I would tell applicants that the judging process consists of well-defined steps designed to ensure fair, consistent, criteria-based evaluations, as well as relevant, actionable feedback reports. I would add that the judges on the panel sincerely want to help you, our customers, improve your organizations and achieve success.

5. What encouragement/advice would you give Baldrige examiners for their work in evaluating organizations as part of the Baldrige Award process?

Being an examiner is a very rewarding experience! You learn principles and concepts that are applicable to your organization, as well as honing analytical thinking, writing, and leadership skills that further your personal development. You gain valuable insight into the practices of outstanding organizations on a journey to excellence, and you work with some of the brightest, most dedicated people: other Baldrige examiners. You can be proud that your volunteer service contributes to the quality and competitiveness of American businesses and organizations.

One piece of advice I would give is to trust the team process. At times, the multiple steps of Independent Review and Consensus Review—with several cycles of feedback and revision—may seem tedious. However, the varied viewpoints and experiences of your examiner team do contribute to richer, more actionable feedback for the applicant, our ultimate customer.


See other blogs profiling members of the 2017 Judges’ Panel: Dr. Ken DavisTammy Dye; Eric Fletcher; Dr. Greg GibsonMajor General John C. Harris, Jr.; Miriam N. Kmetzo; John Molenda, Jr.; and Dr. John C. Timmerman.

Posted in Award Process, Events, and Training, Baldrige Excellence Framework (Criteria), Community | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Leveraging Baldrige to Build a Value-Based Services Organization

Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey

With the help of peer feedback, face-to-face knowledge sharing, and coaching, Baldrige Executive Fellows work on a capstone leadership project to drive strategic results improvement. To do this, they use Baldrige concepts and what they learned from the best practices of Baldrige Award recipients they visited during their year-long fellowships. Their capstone projects are intended to yield significant, systemic impact in their own organizations.

Cindy Bo, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Nemours Children’s Health System

For Cindy Bo, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer for Nemours Children’s Health System, part of the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., strategic results improvement meant helping her organization move to a value-based care model that centers on patient outcomes and improving the quality of care based on specific measures. Such a value-based care model focuses on quality over quantity, moving away from a traditional fee-for-service model.

What inspired your capstone project for the Baldrige Executive Fellows?

Substantial changes within the marketplace are driving U.S. children’s hospitals to re-evaluate how they approach billing, payment, physician alignment, care delivery, and care quality measurements. Moreover, there is a continuing trend among states to transition their fee-for-service programs to accountable-care models. These programs demand greater provider coordination of care and clinical integration in order to demonstrate quality achievement and to replace fee-for-service payments with prospective payment or risk-based models.

To thrive in this environment, children’s hospitals will be pressured through economic incentives to focus on value-based care: managing population health, preventing avoidable readmissions, and reducing costs to elevate the value of the care they deliver. Furthermore, states and employers will increasingly require that children’s hospitals accept additional financial risk in order to have more control over marketplace variables that impact their performance. Nemours is moving into value-based care, and as we transition, we will be forming a new value-based services organization. My capstone project for the Baldrige Executive Fellows is to help Nemours with this transition to value-based care.

Attribution: Evolent Health, https://www.evolenthealth.com/

What was the desired goal of your capstone project?

The desired goal of my capstone project is to build the value-based services organization. This entails forming a new department at Nemours that would integrate primary care, care management, information technology and data analytics, finance and contracting population health, and the clinical network. All these areas will be integrated to drive the value. For example, in order to drive evidence-based care, we will rely on our Care Management Team to support care coordination, social work, and patient navigation. Data Analytics will be the underlying resource to bring visibility to our Care Management Team and administrators, as well as to patients and their families. We will need to rely on data to be able to coordinate care, manage financials, and determine our risk/gain impacts. Analytics investment will be essential to support the value-based care payment and delivery models that require insights to support more effective decision making. Additionally, we will start building out our primary care network with community primary care practices, as well as with specialists and other key stakeholders (e.g., durable medical equipment, skilled nursing facilities, post-acute care, and behavioral health).

In the first year of standing up the value-based services organization, there would be key recruitments as well as alignment to how we deliver care. We will continue to transform to value-based care while using continuous improvement principles and processes. Building a value-based service organization will help Nemours achieve the Quadruple Aim (optimizing the patient experience, population health, the cost of care, and the well-being of the provider).

What results have you seen?

Since my Baldrige Executive Fellows capstone project presentation in April 2017, we have been busy focusing on recruiting staff, engaging in various upside risk-payment models, and aligning various departments and divisions under the value-based services organization. It is too early to see results, but most of the work is underway.

What are the future milestones of your project (i.e., what do you hope will happen next)?

The future milestones of the capstone include the following:

  • Hire a value-based executive director and a medical director, as well as fill other key roles (e.g., in care management and data analytics) to stand up the value-based services organization.
  • Finalize the structure of a value-based services organization and agree on capabilities to be developed in the short and long terms.
  • Align on a care management assessment and agreement to build a “no-regrets” infrastructure and program for children with medical complexities.
  • Engage in additional risk-payment models that diversify the portfolio (e.g., upside risk only, bundled payments, total cost of care).
  • Complete the care management platform diligence: select a tool to understand data integration and financial diligence, calculation of total cost of care, and implementation cost.

How have you/your organization continued using Baldrige resources, including the Baldrige Excellence Framework?

Attribution: Nemours Children’s Health System, https://www.nemours.org/

At Nemours, we have started to use Baldrige resources, including the Baldrige Excellence Framework, which I leveraged for my capstone project. For example, during the initial phases of the capstone, I would adapt the framework questions to finetune the planning and thinking (please see green bubble):

In my daily strategy development role, it is important that I use the framework to ask questions such as “How does Nemours conduct strategic planning? What are Nemours’ key strategic objectives and timetable for achieving them?” Furthermore, for implementation, I would ask “What are Nemours’ key short- and longer-term action plans?” The framework has been extremely helpful in structuring my thinking.

What was the value for you in completing the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program?

I had long been a fan of the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Having the opportunity to learn from Baldrige experts and colleagues provided the best learning laboratory. Being able to dive in deeply to the background and philosophy, as well as the opportunity to see the framework in action at Nemours, is remarkable. From the onset of the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, I was able to take elements of Baldrige to make my capstone a reality at Nemours, as we make one of the biggest transformations for the organization. Finally, it is an honor to be in the company of my Executive Fellows. We have built a network that will continue to grow stronger even after the program has ended. We have become colleagues for life. It has been such a rewarding and enriching experience.

Posted in Award Process, Events, and Training, Baldrige Excellence Framework (Criteria), Impact of Baldrige, Sector Focused, Self-Assessing | 1 Comment