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The Official Baldrige Blog

cartoon illustration of bride and groom

What do you give the bride and groom when they are both Baldrige geeks? I struggled with the question, but then the answer seemed obvious: You give them their own Criteria item.

So with their permission and some tongue-in-cheek, I share with you Item 3.3, Spousal Engagement. And congratulations to the bride and groom!


3.3 Spousal Engagement: How do you engage your spouse to serve his or her needs and build your relationship? (-2 pts.) Process


Describe how you and your spouse determine desired service and communication mechanisms to support your mutual desires. Describe how you and your spouse grow your relationship.

Within your response, include answers to the following questions:

a. Spousal Services and Support

(1)  Service Offerings How do each of you identify your spouse's requirements for marital bliss? How do you identify and innovate your services to your spouse to meet the requirements and exceed the expectations of your spouse and his or her market segment (the universe of husbands and the universe of wives, respectively)? How do you identify and innovate services to avoid either partner seeking new markets and to provide opportunities for expanding your relationship with your spouse?

(2)  Spousal Support How do each of you enable your spouse to seek information and support from you? How do you enable the making of family decisions and provide feedback on your partner's involvement? What are your key means of spousal support, including your key communication mechanisms? How do they vary for different moods and your spouse's market segment? How do you determine your spouse's key support requirements? How do you ensure that those support requirements are deployed to all mood situations and processes involved in supporting your spouse?

(3)  Data Use How do each of you use spousal and market segment information to build a healthy marriage and identify opportunities for innovation?

b. Building Partner Relationships

(1)  Relationship Management How do each of you market, build, and manage your relationship with your spouse to achieve the following?

  • build share of spouse's heart
  • retain your spouse, meet his or her requirements, and exceed his or her expectations in each stage of the marriage life cycle (e.g., honeymoon, day-to-day living,
    seven-year itch)
  • increase your spouse's commitment to you

(2)  Complaint Management How do each of you manage spousal complaints? How does your complaint management process ensure that complaints are resolved promptly and effectively? How does your complaint management process enable you to recover your spouse's confidence and enhance their satisfaction and commitment?


N1. This item has a value of negative two points representing the potential for two disparate viewpoints by partners. If the two partners function as one the score may be given positive one point, thereby offering "extra credit" for success (for a possible perfect Baldrige marriage assessment score of 1001).

N2. “Spousal engagement” refers to your spouse's investment in your long-term relationship. Characteristics of engagement include spousal retention and loyalty, spouse's willingness to make an effort to protect and defend you, and your spouse's willingness to actively advocate for you in friendly and challenging situations.

N3. “Services” refers to the services that you offer your spouse in public and private. Services (3.2a) should consider all the important characteristics for long-term marital bliss and their performance as long as you both shall live. The focus should be on features that affect spousal preference and loyalty—for example, those features that differentiate your relationship from others' marriages and meet your joint needs. Those features might include budgets, reliability, delivery, timeliness, toilet seat up or down, and ease of interaction. Key features also might take into account how amicably interactions occur and factors such as the privacy and security of personal data. Your results on performance relative to key services should be reported in item 7.1, and those concerning spousal perceptions and actions (outcomes) should be reported in item 7.2.

N4. The goal of spousal support (3.3a[2]) is to make your relationship a loving and lasting one responsive to your spouse's expectations and moods.

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.

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Harry - this is really touching, and I think it's "on the leading edge of validated marital management practice." I think that following these processes would yield great results - measurable in terms of spousal satisfaction, and ongoing engagement in years of being married "happily ever after." I wish them all the best!
Love it! That's the way to make the Baldrige Criteria come an item for the little kid-lets that come next. ;)
Toss the Rice - we have a winner! PS - I would have liked to have had this criteria a couple of times in my past - alas I was using the Liz Taylor Biography Edition. Oh well - I will certainly use it now.. Thanks
Excellent Harry - now I await with baited breathe the appropriate results section
Harry, you really outdid yourself on this one! It is definitely a keeper!
I got a score of 10%, based on an ineffective complaint management process...
Your generosity in sharing this information means so much. Thanks a million.
What a nice article. I had the Honor... of working for one of the people for whom this article was penned. She's a Gem and I wish the couple much joy and love. KM

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