The following FAQs are an add-on to the Baldrige Foundation webinar “Baldrige Reimagined,” from September 28, 2023. Slides and video are available online. Some FAQs are answered within the video. Time ran out to answer the following questions; answers to which are provided below.
Baldrige Award Recipients
Baldrige Excellence Framework and the Criteria for Performance Excellence
Baldrige Program Focus
Communities of Excellence
Quality, Excellence, and Organizational Resilience
2024 Baldrige Award FAQs
We think the right thing for organizations that want to improve and receive feedback on their whole organization is to continue participating in Alliance holistic, organization-wide assessments against the full Baldrige Excellence Framework® (the revised Baldrige award criteria does not use the whole framework). Once the Baldrige Program’s revised award criteria and review process are nailed down, the Alliance and Baldrige Program can explore changes.
The Baldrige Program and the Alliance for Performance Excellence continue conversations regarding the pipeline and pathway from an Alliance program to the national program. The concept of the Alliance as the proving ground to help organizations mature and improve their performance is still appropriate and has implications for if/how much/and when the changes we are making should be cascaded into the Alliance evaluation and recognition approaches. In addition, we truly believe that our efforts to streamline, simplify, and engage with well-known, industry-leading organizations will have an immediate positive impact on the entire Baldrige Enterprise, increasing awareness, interest, and engagement at all levels.
There is no direct answer yet, other than to say that the Baldrige Program will not penalize interested applicant organizations because its process was on hold.
We are in conversation with the Alliance, but this probably will not be resolved for 2024.
Rest assured, Bob's presentation did not cover fully what will be in the application, which will include appropriate Organizational Profile (OP)-type questions (e.g., about an organization’s governance, workforce, customers, community, suppliers) to allow examiners to understand the results presented. The application will also ask questions about the key processes and systems that a resilient organization should have in place. We have the intent to be as prescriptive as possible regarding exactly what results examiners need to see, including segmentation and comparisons. Examiner worksheets—both for the results application and for site visit—will help ensure the right results and processes are explored.
Our intention is to “uncouple” the Baldrige Excellence Framework® and its Criteria from the award application but not to lose the strength of either. The Baldrige framework will still be used as a complete assessment of an organization, as well as a management and education guide. The criteria for the revised Baldrige Award are derived from the Baldrige framework and literature on organizational resilience. Our intention is to ask for and only evaluate (at the application stage) results that are essential in making site visit decisions, as well as key processes and systems needed to understand whether the organization is ready for a site visit. All of the seven Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence® categories are represented in some fashion (but not necessarily in their entirety) in the award criteria.
While it is true that the award criteria will not be identical to the full framework, they are still derived from the full set. In addition, the scope of the award criteria still aligns to the framework, encompassing leadership, governance, strategy, customers, workforce, operations, community engagement, and financial areas. Achieving and sustaining high performance across all of these areas will be difficult, and we believe most organizations will find that the Baldrige framework and derivative offerings are still the best tools/guides/assessments to help them get there.
We have never officially called site-visited organizations "finalists," so we think that it would be inappropriate to retroactively do so, especially considering the significant changes to the process. However, while it was never an official designation, earning a site visit was, without question, a significant accomplishment, and we did not argue with organizations that called themselves "finalists" for achieving one.
No. The criteria for the revised Baldrige Award process are derived from the Baldrige Excellence Framework® and literature on organizational resilience. We have heard for years that the application process was too lengthy and cumbersome, thus we are trying to uncouple the award criteria from the framework while keeping both relevant.
The Baldrige Excellence Framework® and its Criteria are derived from processes, practices, and behaviors that have been proven to improve performance and organizational success. We regularly update the framework and Criteria to keep them relevant. If organizations are doing other things to achieve and sustain high performance, we should learn about/integrate them into the framework as appropriate. The entire premise of the Baldrige Program and Baldrige Award is for people to learn from high-performing organizations, and that would include us! The framework will continue to be the best tool to achieve excellence and the level of performance and maturity expected of a role model/recipient.
We agree that most award recipients found great benefit in struggling to understand and apply the full set of Criteria in the framework and in receiving an objective, third-party evaluation. However, we also know that the difficulty of understanding the Criteria, preparing an application, and going through the evaluation process, perhaps for many years, have been a barrier to participation in the award process. As stated in the presentation, our intention is to focus the award process on award worthiness and focus other offerings on organizational improvement. We believe there will still be a need and demand for a holistic, organization-wide assessment against the full framework, but that is not necessary to determine if an organization is worthy of the award. That said, achieving role-model levels of performance will never be easy and there will continue to be offerings/services available across the Baldrige Enterprise to serve those looking to improve. And, finally, award applicant organizations will receive feedback on how well they performed against the award criteria, which they presumably will use to improve.
The Baldrige framework will continue to undergo revisions to ensure that the content is at the leading edge of validated leadership and management practice. Sometime in 2024, we plan to start the next revision cycle and ask the community for feedback.
Based on National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) priorities, manufacturing is the first of the targeted sectors that was identified in the external assessment. This means that the Baldrige Program is developing a strategy for collaboration with the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership and is looking at how to reach and serve manufacturers with our products and services, including the award. However, the Baldrige Program is still considering ALL sectors as its customers and hoping to provide products and services for all.
Absolutely, and in fact, this is something that NIST and DOC would like us to emphasize more. However, our immediate priority is re-establishing the Baldrige Award; engaging well-known, industry leading organizations; and re-engaging our current community in the revised award process.
It is in our plan to explore such partnerships, but for now we are completely focused on finalizing changes to the award process and getting it stood back up. If you have specific suggestions for organizations or the structure for such partnerships, please share!
Initially, ASQ will serve in the same capacity as its staff members have in the past—providing administrative services in support of applicants, examiners, judges, and the Baldrige Program. The specifics of what services are needed and how they are provided may evolve as we finalize the evaluation process.
The Baldrige Program’s hope is that it will accelerate the pathway by generating more interest and support for Baldrige in general and because "resilience" for any organization is, to some degree, contingent on the strength and resilience of its ecosystem (or community).
We may eventually expand our outreach and education efforts in that manner, but it is not something that we are actively pursuing. Our hope is that with the changes we are making, we will be able to create more interest in and engagement with Baldrige, which will enable us to draw more people to such events.
We recognize the inherent value of bringing people together for examiner training; however, due to a refurbishment of the NIST (where the Baldrige Program is located) conference rooms, closing of the NIST cafeteria, COVID 19, and ongoing refurbishments of NIST facilities, we have not, and still do not, have the ability to host examiner training. The Baldrige Program would be happy to engage in dialogue regarding other options, such as incorporating training into the Quest for Excellence® Conference, but there are difficulties and risks associated with that and other in-person options. For the 2024 cycle, examiner training will be virtual.
There will absolutely be a Judges Panel that will make decisions on which applicants receive a site visit and recommend award recipients to the Secretary of Commerce.
In order to attract big-name companies, the Baldrige Program has to make the award more appealing, more valuable, and a whole lot easier to participate in. Using an appropriate prescreen, such as Drucker’s Institute rankings, enables us to radically reduce the effort needed to participate and to identify a pool of potential organizations from which to proactively recruit.
Our plan is to establish various gates:
We believe an organization’s ability to be resilient and successful in the long term depends on excellence in many areas of its performance. Resilience, a key component of excellence, addresses not only the ability to make changes but also the ability to bounce forward after disruptions. Resilient organizations are prepared and able to adapt, innovate, and thrive in response to disasters, emergencies, and other disruptions; and they are focused on the building blocks of long-term success. Resilient organizations can share best practices and help other organizations and their communities/ecosystems (e.g., supply networks) become more resilient, too. So, no, we do not see any dimming on the focus on quality or excellence! We hope that adding a focus on resilience is simply the next stage in the evolution of the award.
It is anticipated that the work involved in a site visit will decrease. It is not clear yet how much a site visit will be in person vs. virtual.
Thoughtful consideration is being given to the questions in the application to share exactly what results examiners need to see, which will help limit cherry picking only the best results. However, it is always possible an organization may fudge its results, but a site visit is a significant investment of time, effort, and money. We are not sure there will be many willing to make such a commitment knowing they have little chance of winning the award. If that becomes an issue, we can always institute policies that will dissuade any falsification of data in the application.
In recent years, prior to the pause on the award process, the Baldrige Program began leveraging MS Teams to enable virtual meetings and enhance dialogue between examiners, as well as between the examiner team and the applicant organization. We expect that to continue. We will also include in-person site visits for organizations that are selected as "finalists." For many years, we have used an online tool where examiners captured their analysis, findings, commentary, and scores (first BOSS, then BRIDGE). The system included functionality that facilitated the team's efforts to reach consensus.
We will have an online award application interface for the 2024 process that will eliminate the need for an applicant to spend significant time and effort writing an application. Applicant organizations will log in, create an account, answer questions, and upload various charts, graphs, and data tables. For the future, we envision an integrated platform that encompasses application, examination, judging, and feedback, along with helpful information, resources, and interactive spaces, to ask questions and share insights.