Last week, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program released the 2017–2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework (Business/Nonprofit version). This booklet includes the 26th version of the Criteria for Performance Excellence published by the program since 1988. Although a lot has changed in the world (and in the Criteria) since that first version, one thing hasn’t: the Baldrige framework enhances the growth and sustainability of America’s businesses and other organizations by improving their efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes.
A couple of weeks ago I read with great interest the report No Recovery, produced by Gallup for the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. The report makes a strong case that U.S. economic recovery is being hampered by a serious decline in productivity, brought on in large part by systemic quality issues in health care and education. Obviously, the concerns with the quality of health care and education in the United States are not new. They have been a priority for every administration for at least the last 25 years. However, their clear connection to an overall decline in the nation’s productivity, investment, and economic growth is not as widely recognized—and certainly has not been effectively addressed on a large scale.
Baldrige can help. In its first versions, the Criteria helped address the quality crisis of the 1980s by enabling and encouraging businesses to adopt a robust, leadership-driven, customer-focused quality management system. And it worked! Numerous studies and data analysis confirmed that organizations that adopted the Baldrige framework outperformed competitors and peers. In 1999, the Baldrige Award process (and other Baldrige resources) officially expanded to cover the health care and education sectors. The nonprofit sector (including government organizations) was added in 2007, enabling the Baldrige program to support all sectors of the economy.
Today, however, merely having high-quality products and services alone is no longer sufficient to create and sustain a competitive advantage; in most industries, it is a prerequisite, and not having it is a barrier to entry. Therefore, in support of the program’s larger purpose of improving the U.S. economy by improving our national competitiveness, as the drivers of long-term success have evolved, so, too, have the Baldrige Excellence Framework and Criteria. Recent Studies and data analysis continue to demonstrate that organizations that use the Baldrige framework and Criteria outperform their competitors and peers. Baldrige works, and it works for organizations of all kinds, including health care organizations, education systems and institutions, large service businesses and manufacturers, small businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.
A 1995 report of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, Building on Baldrige: American Quality for the 21st Century, stated, “More than any other program, the Baldrige National Quality Award is responsible for making quality a national priority and disseminating best practices.” The Baldrige Program continues to help address national priorities by developing and disseminating the globally recognized and emulated standard of organization-wide excellence, by identifying role-model organizations through the Baldrige Award process, and by sharing role-model best practices. The program is also involved in initiatives to help address our national cybersecurity (or cyber resilience, if you prefer) needs, and to help address the deeply complex issues facing communities across the nation.
One critical factor in our ability to help build and sustain high performance in organizations of all kinds is our ongoing process to keep the Baldrige Criteria at the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practices. Today the 2017–2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework offers organizations of all kinds the world’s most valuable, nonprescriptive guide for leadership and management that facilitates a systems approach to achieving organization-wide excellence. This publication is available now. The latest versions for health care and education will be available in mid-January 2017.
In my next blog, I’ll describe the changes in the new version of the framework. Stay tuned—and in the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys the winter holiday season and time with family and friends!
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is a public-private partnership housed at NIST supported by the Baldrige Foundation and the services of hundreds of volunteers. The Program—along with the many nonprofit state, regional, and sector-specific programs that use its Criteria to help organizations improve in their local areas—has been helping improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness by providing assessments, identifying role models, sharing best practices, and providing leadership development offerings to organizations of all kinds.