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Twenty‐Five Years Later

Baldrige 25 years Building an even better future logo

2013 marked the 25th‐anniversary of the Baldrige Program, now called the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program®.

Since its not‐so‐humble beginnings, it has transitioned to a Baldrige Enterprise, a partnership between Baldrige‐based programs, ASQ, and the Foundation, to sustain the Baldrige Program’s mission to improve the competitiveness of all U.S. organizations. In the mid‐1990s, the federal government added appropriations to cover the public side of the unique public‐private partnership, but that appropriation was lost in 2011; the Enterprise was formed to help underpin the Baldrige Program and keep alive the benefit and value to so many organizations.

Included in the Enterprise are 33‐plus state, local, and sector Baldrige‐based programs that all use the Criteria for Performance Excellence® and cover almost all of the states of the union. Most are independent 501(c)3 nonprofits, but some are coordinated by state governments and university systems. All have a Baldrige‐based state‐level award program as their central mission, collectively advancing the Enterprise objective of improving productivity, competitiveness, and outcomes across U.S. organizations. More than 2,200 examiners, 1,400 applicants, and approximately 40 paid staff serve Baldrige‐based state programs.

In addition, 106 international quality programs now base themselves on Baldrige, and several international program representatives attend examiner training in the United States each year. Of the Baldrige Program, the administrator of the Singapore excellence award, Choy Sauw Kook, wrote, “The Baldrige Program has provided us with a benchmark in terms of the development and enhancement of our framework, rigour of assessment methodology, assessor development and recognition, as well as best practice learnings. Within the [Global Excellence Model] Council, the Baldrige Program is seen as the leading excellence progamme, and SPRING Singapore, like other GEM Council members, has always looked to Baldrige for the way forward.”

In 2013, Ninety‐one Baldrige Award winners have served as national role models.

“You can’t argue with the [Baldrige] Criteria because it is sound and it is fundamental. Everything Milliken has done is built and building on that foundation. . . . Baldrige served us well and served a lot of companies well....... It truly is a beacon for operational excellence.”

Craig Long, VP, Performance Solutions by Milliken, a 1989 Baldrige Award recipient

“There is no question that our adherence to the Baldrige performance criteria has made us a much more efficient university and helped us weather repeated cuts in state aid without affecting educational quality. The Baldrige model, as deployed at UW‐Stout, also led to a number of important innovations.”22

Charles W. Sorensen, chancellor of UW‐Stout, a 2001 Baldrige Award winner, and
Julie Furst‐Bowe, former provost

In its 25 years, the Baldrige Program has much evidence of its return on investment. Analysis of data from two‐time Baldrige Award winners shows that the median growth in number of sites was 67%, median growth in revenue was 94%, and median growth in jobs was 63%; the median growth in jobs was nearly 20 times greater than matched industries and time periods, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which indicated a comparative average job growth of 3.2%. Hospitals that have won the Baldrige Award have lower rates of mortality and complications, higher profit margins, and higher improvement levels than the 100 Top Hospitals (top 3% nationwide) according to a Thomson Reuters study. And, in 2011, economists reported that for every public $1 spent on the Baldrige Program, the benefit to the U.S. economy is $820. In 2011 alone, the program has tracked nearly 3 million page views of the Baldrige Criteria, and since 1987, more than 2 million print copies have been distributed.

Additional return on investment data are available on the Baldrige Website23 and in the book Baldrige 20/20: An Executive’s Guide to the Criteria for Performance Excellence24.

Use of the Baldrige Criteria can help organizations assess and improve their performance, becoming more sophisticated about how to align all of their processes to achieve desired results. That is important not only to the success of manufacturing and service enterprises but also sectors such as health care and education which are vital to the future of the economy and the well‐being of society.

The Baldrige Award is given to only a few of the applicants because they meet the highest standards. But in a sense, every organization that uses the Baldrige Criteria for self‐study and change can turn out to be a winner due to their increased ability to learn, adapt, innovate, and achieve excellence.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, director of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative,
quote from Baldrige 20/20: An Executive's Guide to the Criteria for Performance Excellence

Baldrige Award recipients “are successfully navigating the storms of change, achieving operational effectiveness and efficiency, improving financial results, enhancing customer service, and winning new markets through application of the Baldrige Criteria.”

Gregory Page, chairman of the board and CEO of Cargill, Inc.

On April 7, 2013, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and its many supporters gathered for a Gala to celebrate 25 years of performance excellence, 25 years of U.S. organizations learning and becoming more competitive and sustainable, and 25 years of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the thousands and thousands of organizations that have benefited from it.

22 Sorensen, Charles W., and Furst‐Bowe, Julie, “Keep Baldrige Mission Alive”

23Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

24 Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Baldrige 20/20: An Executive’s Guide to the Criteria for Performance Excellence, Gaithersburg, MD: 2011.


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Created April 17, 2023, Updated April 26, 2023