2012, the 25th anniversary year of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, will see 39 organizations vying for the honor. Applicants for the Baldrige Award, the nation's highest recognition for organizational performance excellence through innovation and improvement, include one manufacturer, three service companies, two small businesses, three educational organizations, 25 health care organizations and five nonprofits or governmental organizations.
The 2012 applicants will be evaluated rigorously by an independent board of 478 examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; operations focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results. Examiners provide each applicant with 300 to 1,000 hours of review and a detailed report on the organization's strengths and opportunities for improvement. Late this summer, organizations that distinguish themselves in the initial screening will be site visited by teams of examiners to verify information in the application and to clarify questions that come up during the review.
A new element has been added in 2012 to enhance the selection process and strengthen the national Baldrige Enterprise bond* between the Alliance for Performance Excellence—a body made up of the 35-plus state, local, regional and sector-specific Baldrige-based programs serving nearly all 50 states—and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Starting this year, an organization must meet one of the following criteria to apply for the national Baldrige Award:
Previously won the national Baldrige Award but not within the past five years;
Between 2007 and 2011, received the top award from an award program that is a member of the Alliance for Performance Excellence;
Between 2007 and 2011, applied for the national Baldrige Award and earned a high score in both organizational processes and results but did not receive a site visit;
Between 2007 and 2011, applied for the national Baldrige Award and received a site visit;
Has more than 25 percent of its workforce outside of the home state; or
Through this modified process, organizations that are early in their Baldrige improvement journeys will be encouraged to first apply for an Alliance for Performance Excellence Baldrige-based program award to receive the benefits of a "local" review.
This year's Baldrige Award recipients are expected to be announced in late November 2012. The recipients will be honored in a ceremony to be held at the 25th Annual Quest for Excellence conference in April 2013 in Baltimore, Md.
Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. The award—managed by NIST in collaboration with the private sector—promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 90 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.
Thousands of organizations use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to guide their operations, improve performance and get sustainable results. This proven improvement and innovation framework offers organizations an integrated approach to key management areas.
For more information, go to www.nist.gov/baldrige.
∗ See "New Business Plan, New Funding Help Baldrige Program Move Forward," April 13, 2012.