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The Official Baldrige Blog

The Jobs of the Future: How Can We Help?


The Baldrige Program was created to help manufacturers be more competitive, and it has endorsed Manufacturing Day for years, doing what it can to help connect Baldrige community members, especially schools, with manufacturers and to promote open houses and other events. Most recently, the program has sought feedback on a draft tool called the Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder to help all organizations assess and prioritize improvements for their risk management programs.

In thinking about the Baldrige mission to help U.S. organizations improve, I recently came across an interesting article about manufacturing and the jobs of the future. Without choosing a political side, the author puts forward an opinion on how to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States—or, more accurately, what those jobs might look like. This has me thinking about how the Baldrige Program can reasonably help.

“We can bring manufacturing home, but we cannot sustain the repetitive, manual jobs that powered American factories in the 1950s,” writes Joe Blair in an online article called “Can Robotics Spark A Renaissance In American Manufacturing?” “That is a price of innovation. The industrial revolution made tanners, blacksmiths, and weavers obsolete. The digital revolution may soon replace cashiers, drivers, and stock traders with computers. . . . Under our current paradigm of manufacturing, yes, most jobs will stay in Asia and Mexico. However, if the U.S. was to fully embrace next-generation robotics and automation, it could create high-paying industrial jobs on a massive scale—just not the same jobs we had in the 1950s.”’

The large Baldrige community, including many from the manufacturing sector, likely has the expertise to respond more specifically on how the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria could support advanced manufacturing organizations in implementing use of robotics or other innovations in their work processes. The Baldrige Program can certainly continue to support such organizations pursuing the innovations of the future. For example, by

  • helping all organizations assess and improve their cybersecurity risk management programs;
  • offering considerations as a roadmap to focusing on the future and being prepared to innovate quickly;
  • providing an outside, objective criteria for organizations to evaluate themselves against and determine how well they’re doing, both within and outside their industries, with world-class goals and benchmarks; (According to Mike Garvey of M7 Technologies in a recent blog, “I didn’t know the real value of [the Baldrige Criteria] until 2008–2011. We were looking for a cure to help sustain stronger financial security and job security . . .  because of what happened to us in the recession. . . . [We realized that the Baldrige Framework] has to be our cure to raise us to higher performance and make the competition irrelevant.”)
  • providing a systems focus on aligning and running the entire company, so that gains are not short lived; (According to Bill Baker of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence in “That Dog Won’t Hunt . . . for Long!”, “My big concern is that a continuous improvement/lean strategy is way more complex than a set of tools to reduce manufacturing labor and material costs. It is the mantra of how to run the entire company. We need to be looking at the market, the customers, and the future customers focusing on how the company needs to change in this rapidly changing world!”)
  • accelerating a common culture and core values, especially after mergers and acquisitions; (Said Robert “Rusty” Patterson of the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing in a recent blog, “It’s not just about how well you execute what you’re doing. It’s about how you create the culture that continues to execute no matter the process. And it’s everything from the CEO to the janitor who understands how to approach issues and problems, understands how to approach their work, and has appreciation for each other’s roles.”)
  • sending feedback from trained Baldrige examiners on product and process efficiency and productivity; (Said Patterson in the same blog, “What I tell people is you ought to use the Baldrige Criteria to turn a mirror on yourself. You don’t have to win a Baldrige Award. . . . The real key is that you can put that mirror on yourself and get some examiners to come in and evaluate what you’re doing because sometimes it’s hard for you to do this. It’s an excellent criteria [framework that helps you say] you’re doing a lot of the right things, but here are some areas where you can improve.”)
  • helping organizations to integrate the approaches they use (e.g., ISO 9000, Lean, and Six Sigma), improve productivity and effectiveness, and pursue performance excellence; and
  • helping organizations conduct strategic planning and focus on the customers of the future, including building their satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.

In a recent white paper, “The Value of Using the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework in Manufacturing Organizations,” authors Prabir Kumar Bandyopadhyay and Denis Leonard also offer some conclusions on what needs to be done to interest manufacturers in what Baldrige resources have to offer. They posit a stronger partnership between the program and manufacturers to “create a version of the criteria specifically focused on manufacturing and its particular needs and issues . . . . Furthermore, identifying advocates, aligned stakeholders including peer groups, and regulatory authorities could stimulate interest among manufacturing organizations.”

What do you think are ways that Baldrige resources can support the jobs of the future for U.S. organizations?

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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