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The Official Baldrige Blog

Business Excellence 101: Batter Up! Nine Game-Winning Tips to Power Your Baldrige Journey

Game-Winning Tips to Power Your Baldrige Journey showing a baseball player hitting a ball with a bat.
Credit: zieusin/Shutterstock
Business Excellence 101 Blog Series

In this blog series, we are highlighting the many resources that are available to help you learn about Baldrige, improve organizational processes, and build long-term resilience.

Always Be Learning

For more than 30 years, Baldrige has been globally recognized as setting the standard for achieving organizational excellence in all industries. Organizations around the world use the Baldrige framework to improve and get sustainable results. 

However, it doesn’t matter if you already consider yourself a Baldrige-savvy all-star or you feel more like a rookie still building out the key skills and experience. These eternal words of baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle remind us that there’s always more room to grow and improve at every stage in your career: "It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life."

The Baldrige system of performance improvement encourages you to think and act strategically, while aligning your people, processes, and resources to achieve your goals. Regardless of when you are on that journey, you will be a forever learner. Following are nine tips (and a little more baseball inspiration!) to keep you swinging and provide a clear path forward to successful outcomes.

1. Conduct a Self-Assessment.

Whether your organization is small or large; is involved in business service, manufacturing, health care, education, government, or nonprofit work; or has one location or multiple sites across the globe, it can benefit from conducting a Baldrige self-assessment. The following free resources can help you pinpoint areas where you may need to focus resources for improvement and innovation:

  • Are We Making Progress? and Are We Making Progress As Leaders? These ten-minute questionnaires will introduce the seven Criteria for Performance Excellence categories of the Baldrige framework to your organization and help you identify your organization’s perceptions on your strengths and opportunities for improvement.
  • easyInsight: Take a First Step toward a Baldrige Self-Assessment This tool will help identify gaps in your understanding of your organization and enable you to compare your organization to others.
  • Baldrige Excellence Builder The Builder provides a scoring rubric to use in assessing your processes and results, along with questions drawn from the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence that will help you assess your organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement against the most important features of organizational performance excellence.

“Whether you’re trying to excel in athletics or in any other field, always practice. Look, listen, learn—and practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute for work, no shortcut to the top.” – Frank Robinson, Baseball Hall of Famer (1982)

2. Read Baldrige 20/20: An Executive's Guide to the Criteria for Performance Excellence.

The publication Baldrige 20/20 (PDF) highlights Baldrige Award winners while sharing stories of their journeys to performance excellence and relatable lessons they’ve learned along the way.

3. Contact Your Regional, State/Local, or Sector-Specific Baldrige-Based Program.

To help your organization improve and excel, these programs can provide networking opportunities, training, and consultation, in addition to their Baldrige evaluation-based award programs. With some exceptions, it is important to note that an organization has to win its top-tier state award before becoming eligible to apply for the Baldrige Award.

The Alliance for Performance Excellence can help you find your nearest regional or state/local Baldrige-based program. The Alliance is a partner of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, as are the Baldrige Foundation and the American Society for Quality. Together, they are united around a common vision of enhancing the competitiveness, quality, and productivity of organizations.

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” – Babe Ruth, Baseball Hall of Famer (1936)

4. Get Started in Using the Baldrige Excellence Framework.

The Baldrige Excellence Framework® helps you identify and leverage your strengths and prepares you to face your challenges. The framework booklet and related publications can help you think in a different way or give you a fresh frame of reference. 

5. Write an Organizational Profile.

Many organizations that have used the Baldrige Excellence Framework to raise their performance, particularly Baldrige Award recipients, have affirmed the value of the Organizational Profile (the prefatory section of the Criteria for Performance Excellence) as a beginning and ongoing tool for performance assessment and improvement. Start by scanning the questions on pages 4–6 and discussing the answers with your senior leadership team.

6. Consult the Baldrige Excellence Cybersecurity Builder.

Assess your organization’s risk management with the free Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder, which blends organizational assessment approaches from the Baldrige Excellence Framework with the concepts and principles of NIST's Cybersecurity Framework

"You have to be a student of the game if you want to reach the top and stay there. Reaching the top is not the obstacle. Staying on top and making adjustments, that's the obstacle." – Dusty Baker, manager of the Houston Astros (2020 to present) and Baseball America's Manager of the Year (2000 and 2021)

7. Attend Baldrige Events.

Attend the Quest for Excellence® Conference, the Baldrige Fall Conference, or a Baldrige Award recipient’s "Sharing Day." These special events highlight the role-model approaches of recipients of the Baldrige Award or Baldrige-based awards. These organizations have used the Baldrige framework to improve performance, innovate, and achieve world-class results. Workshops on Baldrige self-assessment are often offered in conjunction with these conferences.

8. Volunteer as a Baldrige Examiner®.

Examiners receive valuable training and gain experience in understanding and applying the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence®, which they can use within their own organizations. If this is an opportunity you’re interested in, you’ll enjoy reading these insights from seasoned volunteers for the Baldrige Board of Examiners.

9. Become a Baldrige Executive Fellow.

Baldrige Fellows (C-suite and rising executives) participate in an executive development program, learning from each other and from Baldrige Award recipients. This is a one-year, nationally ranked leadership development experience for direct reports to the most senior leader in the organization or business unit leaders.

Business Excellence 101 Blog Series

Previous Blogs
Business Excellence 101: Five Things to Know about the Baldrige Program
Business Excellence 101: Improve Financial and Operational Performance with the Baldrige Framework

Upcoming Blogs
Business Excellence 101: Gain Unique Leadership Insights as a Baldrige Fellow

2021-2022 Baldrige Excellence Framework Business/Nonprofit feature image

Baldrige Excellence Framework®

The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.

Purchase your copy today!

Available versions: Business/Nonprofit, Education, and Health Care

About the author

Michelle Peña

Michelle Peña is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program at NIST. Her background includes degrees in English and Spanish from George Mason University, an advanced degree from George Washington University, and more than 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. 

Michelle is passionate about the benefits of personal development in the workplace and helping others become more emotionally resilient leaders in their community. Her blogs provide encouraging perspectives to help employees and businesses thrive and build a culture of continuous improvement.

As a digital marketing enthusiast, she also enjoys sharing motivational social media content and actionable growth strategies that professionals can use to empower their organization.

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