Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


The Official Baldrige Blog

Baldrige framework diagram

Baldrige framework diagram

Credit: Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

I recently had a conversation with some of the Baldrige Program staff about the new Baldrige Framework diagram issued in 2015, and sometimes referred to as the "Baldrige Hockey Puck." The conversation reminded me how much symbolism is built into the diagram and that this symbolism may be obvious only to the creators. So this posting is my take on the meaning of this diagram, depicting the components of a well-designed organizational performance management system.

I will start with the base of the hockey puck. It comprises the Baldrige Core Values and Concepts (core values). These eleven core values are the beliefs embedded in the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. They are the underpinnings of the Criteria. It is not intended that these core values be adopted as the core values of organizations using the Criteria, but that they be beliefs the organization can ascribe to as a basis for their organizational performance management system.

The background for the organizational performance management system is the Organizational Profile. It is always present as a key influencer of your performance management system. All responses to Items in the Criteria should be responsive to the specific factors that govern your organizational environment, key relationships, competitive environment, and strategic context as described in your Organizational Profile. We talk about using this Profile to "load your lenses." You should see your organization through the lenses provided by this information, that defines who you are as an organization.

Leadership, Strategy, and Customers are categories 1, 2, and 3, respectively, of the Baldrige Criteria. They are shown as adjoining, interlocking hexagons because we believe leadership sets the tone and vision for the organization and this includes leading strategic thinking and a focus on the customers of the organization. If leadership is not focused on strategy and customers, the organization is not likely to be either. These are key contributors to the organization's ongoing success. Therefore, we refer to these three categories as the leadership triad.

Workforce, Operations, and Results are categories 5, 6, and 7, respectively, of the Baldrige Criteria. They are shown as adjoining, interlocking hexagons because we believe the results the organization achieves are the outcome of the people (workforce) and processes (operations) that produce the organization's goods and services, implement the organization's strategy, and serve its customers. Therefore, we refer to these three categories as the results triad.

Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management is category 4 of the Baldrige Criteria. It is shown as a rectangle that supports and serves as the foundation of the organization's performance management system. Category 4 provides the fact base that allows for data- and knowledge-driven decision making in the organization. Measurement, analysis, and knowledge enable all the other functions in the organization (categories 1-6) to deliver successful outcomes (category 7).

The hexagons for the Leadership and Results categories are framed in white to call heightened attention to these two categories and to indicate (see the horizontal arrowheads) the clear relationship between leadership and the results the organization achieves. If Leadership isn't focused on all key results for the organization (not just financials), the organization is not likely to have ongoing success. And Results must feed back to Leaders key information that they will use in guiding and steering the organization. The importance of  these two categories is further emphasized in the Baldrige Scoring System, where they have more points assigned than any of the other categories. Furthermore RESULTS is shown in capital letters because this category alone is assigned 450 out of the 1000 possible points in the scoring system. The organization's performance management system must be focused on achievement (results) to drive ongoing success.

The four arrowheads with the word Integration in the center depict that the questions in the criteria force systems thinking and emphasize the interdependencies that make a performance system rather than simply a set of building blocks. The arrowheads also point to the Organizational Profile  and category 4 to again indicate that the system is dependent on who you are as an organization and that a systems approach is fact-based, relying on a foundation of Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management.

So, in this case, a picture is worth almost a thousand words!

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

Related posts


Harry, you may call yourself the Baldrige Cheermugeon but honestly you are a great Mentor and Towne Crier for an awesome, but undervalued tool for Performance Excellence.
Hockey pucks require being hit with a curved stick that has its own latent symbolisms. A heavily padded team is required to coordinate the movement of a puck in motion toward the goal. The whole puck must be moved as a unit; half pucks don't roll predictably toward the goal. Then, there the matter of the other team and their goalie. Those symbolisms are open to multiple identifications. Round objects, sticks, goals, teams, competition, keeping score, winning -- universal concepts. We need colorful jerseys and beer. Lots of beer. Scooooooooooooooooooooooooore.
Well done, Harry!!! You highlight the most important things that tip an organization from just answering and acting on questions to real transformation. As you say, it about, "systems thinking and emphasize the interdependencies." Once we see the framework as a complex network of linkages that can drive transformational performance, we can make a leap forward in building a sustainable organization. This article should be given to every member of a leadership team and certainly a handout for anyone who wants to understand what The Framework is. Thanks so much.
I may come across as the true "Baldrige Curmudgeon" with this reply.... My concern with this Blogrige post is the idea of referring to the Baldrige Framework as the "Baldrige Hockey Puck," which replaces the previous moniker "Baldrige Burger." While this is a cute reference, it minimizes the value of the management model, especially if we use these references when describing the management model to senior leadership. My definition for the Baldrige Framework is that it is " outcome-focused, evidence-based management model that represents the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice." This communicates the value of the Framework to senior leaders - and I've found that it resonates with them. The key phrases are "outcome-focused" and "evidence-based." "Outcome-focused" means that you can have beautifully documented processes, but if they aren't leading to improved results, something needs to be improved. "Evidence-based" means that this isn't an individual saying you should do something - the Baldrige Criteria are based on years of research/evidence of practices of high-performing organizations. Let's not minimize the value of the Baldrige Framework with a cute reference. Let's be sure we're all able to communicate fully the value of this great management model.
Paul, Cute reference for the "insider" was all the term "hockey puck" was meant to be (and it is not a term I came up with). However, "cute" is not intended to displace the great significance portrayed in the framework diagram.Your description is the elevator speech I would give to executives, as well. But it is a mouthful! Harry
Hi Harry, Thanks for the symbolism. Indeed, a picture says a thousand words. Baldrige remains a force of inspiration! Pleasing to see the similarities between the Baldrige and the New SA Excellence Model. For interest sake, back in 2013, we decided to go the Octogon route as it allows embracing of the PDCA Elements. Thanks for your continued contibution to Global Excellence. Kind regards. Ed
Many of us now refer to this as the Baldrige pizza in keeping with the previous food-based reference. However, good post nevertheless.

Add new comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Please be respectful when posting comments. We will post all comments without editing as long as they are appropriate for a public, family friendly website, are on topic and do not contain profanity, personal attacks, misleading or false information/accusations or promote specific commercial products, services or organizations. Comments that violate our comment policy or include links to non-government organizations/web pages will not be posted.