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Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence Logo
October 2010

What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

These words, said by Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, suggest that names are rather arbitrary. A name given to an object is basically a tool for standardization of information exchange. A name—Juliet explains—does not change any of an object’s attributes, nor—she might philosophize—is a name necessarily linked to an object’s inherent properties.

Yet I believe there are justifiable reasons for a name change. For the Baldrige Program, our name should clearly reflect the primary focus of our organization, our mission, and our vision, and it should provide a clear alignment with the needs and desires of our customers and markets. Over the more than 20 years since the inception of the Baldrige National Quality Program and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the field of quality has evolved from a focus on product, service, and customer quality to a broader, strategic focus on overall organizational quality—which we have called performance excellence for over a decade. In line with this concept of overall organizational excellence (which some people refer to as “big Q” quality), the Baldrige Criteria have evolved to stay on the leading edge of validated enterprise management practice and needs. This commitment to evolution is a key reason that the Criteria are increasingly seen as the standard for organizational performance excellence worldwide.

Today, the Baldrige Criteria focus on the way a successful organization can effectively plan and mange its operations for current success and long-term sustainability. The Criteria form a management framework covering everything from leadership, strategic planning, and knowledge management to a focus on the workforce, customers, and all performance results. To reflect the 23 years of changes since our program was created, as of October 2010, our name is changing from the Baldrige National Quality Program to the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

Are we sure our new name reflects the wishes of our customers? In an independent branding study in 2007, the broad Baldrige community indicated that the term “performance excellence” best reflects who we are and what we do. As part of an overall NIST realignment that takes place this month, the Obama Administration and our Congressional oversight committees have made this change. This is about management by fact, based on who we are and the voice of our customers. We believe the new program name better reflects the journey our customers are on and should clearly tell potential customers why they should engage with us.

We know the Baldrige National Quality Program is a familiar name to many. Yet changing the name provides an opportunity to continue meeting the emerging needs of our stakeholders, to shape the future, and to ensure that we remain on the leading edge of validated management practice. We hope you will celebrate this new name with us.

What’s in a name change? For us, it represents abundant opportunities to continue on the path to performance excellence, to focus on the future, and to improve the competitiveness of the United States. What changes are in store? Look for the growth of our new Baldrige Executive Fellows program, a Baldrige community training and development solution that extends beyond training current Examiners, new strategic partnerships, and very soon, the updated Criteria for Performance Excellence for 2011–2012. Stick with us; it’s going to be a great journey!


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Dr. Harry Hertz photo

Dr. Harry Hertz, Director
Baldrige Performance Excellence Program


Baldrige Customer Service:
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301.948.3716 Fax
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