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The Official Baldrige Blog

Baldrige Self-Assessment: Seven Steps for a Full Examination

Let’s say your organization has already begun using the Baldrige Excellence Framework (which includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence) to assess its performance in key areas.

For example, your senior leaders have completed the Organizational Profile, reviewed the guidelines that make up the Scoring System of the Criteria for Performance Excellence, and developed responses to some overarching questions in all seven categories of the Criteria. (The "basic" questions are those in the item titles, and the "overall" questions are those in boldface that introduce "multiple requirement" questions below them.) Your organization is probably ready now to conduct a full Baldrige self-assessment.

Below are seven steps toward developing responses to the individual questions in all seven categories of the Criteria for Performance Excellence (Leadership; Strategy; Customers; Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management; Workforce; Operations; and Results):

1.       Identify the scope of the assessment: will it cover the entire organization, a subunit, a division, or a department?

2.      Select seven champions, one for each Criteria category, to lead a team in preparing responses to the questions in the category. Have the champions write your Organizational Profile.

3.      Form category teams. Have the members collect data and information to answer the questions in their respective categories, referring to the notes after each item and the Category and Item Commentary as guides.

4.      Have the teams share their answers to the Criteria questions and identify common themes and missing linkages.

5.      Have each category team create and communicate an action plan for improvement based on their answers. Consider using the Self-Analysis Worksheet, a Word file that may be downloaded for free from our website.

6.      Have the seven champions and other senior leaders build an overall action plan based on overall organizational priorities.

7.      Evaluate the self-assessment process, and identify possible improvements. Involve senior leaders, champions, and teams. The teams will need to collaborate to address questions that link the categories to each other.

Organizations of any size and sector (business/nonprofit, health care, or education) can conduct a full Baldrige self-assessment in order to improve performance and achieve excellence. If you’re a manufacturer, service business, small business, or nonprofit organization (outside health care and education—that is, you don’t call your customers “patients” or “students”), you’ll use the Baldrige Excellence Framework, Business/Nonprofit version of the booklet (which includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence. See the Baldrige website for ordering information.

If your organization is in health care or education, you’ll use the Health Care  or the Education versions of the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklets, respectively.

Related blog posts: “Baldrige Criteria: Seven Ways to Learn More” and “Baldrige Self-Assessment: Seven Ways to Get Started

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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Would you assign seven category leads, or just six, and allot the results items to the appropriate process category leads?
Good question, Bob. I understand different organizations have effectively assigned either six or seven leads. If you choose the six-lead approach, keep in mind that there are only five results items in the recent editions of the Criteria (2011-2012 and 2013-2014), so assigning associated results for the six process categories may not be easy in every case. Obviously, category 1 (Leadership) goes with item 7.4 (Leadership and Governance Results; category 3 (Customer Focus), with item 7.2 (Customer-Focused Results); and category 5 (Workforce Focus), with item 7.3 (Workforce-Focused Results); however, category 2 (Strategic Planning), category 4 (Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management), and category 6 (Operations Focus) may be harder to associate with just one of the remaining results items (7.1, Product and Process Results; and 7.5, Financial and Market Outcomes). I hope we'll hear from some organizations here on what has worked well for them!
I have been assigned the task to incorporate the Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence into our current performance reviews of educational institutions. Each operational area of the institution that is reviewed is wrapped in a framework of protocols which is then presented as a chapter. THere are five chapters in all - thus five chapters of protocols. Currently I am organizing an action plan with the ending goal of a seamless incorporation of the 7 categories within each chapter as it applies. Any suggestions for my work?

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