A Baldrige Update and Q&A With Bob Fangmeyer

April 7, 2015 by ahmed

Originally posted on ASQ

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program published the latest revisions to the Criteria for Performance Excellence in 2015–2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework: A Systems Approach to Improving Your Organization’s Performance. The program also recently released a brochure-length Criteria-based resource: Baldrige Excellence Builder. In this guest post, Baldrige Program Director Bob Fangmeyer responds to questions quality professionals may have about using these resources to help organizations improve their performance.

In 2013, Fangmeyer became the third director to lead the Baldrige Program since its establishment by Congress in 1987. In his tenure so far, Bob has worked to lead the expansion of product and service offerings, strengthen partnerships and collaborations, and focus on increasing use of the Baldrige Excellence Framework in all sectors.

If my organization is not applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, how can we still benefit from using the Criteria?

First, it is important to understand that the Baldrige Excellence Framework, which includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, serves two purposes: as the standard of excellence that award applicants are evaluated against, and as an educational document designed to help any organization achieve better outcomes and results.

Second, it is important to understand that Baldrige is not a substitute for the quality and processes improvement tools you use, such as lean, Six Sigma, and ISO. We provide a framework that works in conjunction with such improvement tools to ensure that your organization is making appropriate improvements to the most important processes in order to achieve organization-wide goals and objectives. Complementary to quality or process improvement tools, the Baldrige Excellence Framework is a systems approach to leadership, management, and organizational performance improvement that ensures an integrated focus on the unique factors that drive success for your organization.

The many benefits to be gained by using the Criteria—or derivative products such as Baldrige Excellence Builder (go here for a free sample) and Are We Making Progress? surveys—as a leadership guide and/or self-assessment tool include improved communication, understanding of customer requirements, organizational alignment, employee and customer engagement, and, of course, business and operational results. One easy first step is to see if you can answer the questions in the Organizational Profile (the prefatory section to the Criteria), and if others in your organization, including the leadership, would answer them the same way. We hear from organizations of all kinds that this simple exercise was one of the most important and impactful steps in getting their people and processes aligned, thereby enabling significant and rapid gains.

How is the new version of the Criteria different from previous versions?

The change to the title of the booklet aims to clarify that the contents are not only “criteria” for the Baldrige Award but also a framework for improving performance and achieving excellence based on a systems perspective.

The graphical depiction of the framework (see below) has changed to better highlight key attributes; as one example, the Organizational Profile more clearly shows that it’s the context for all performance areas. We also streamlined the Criteria’s format to make it more concise, readable, and user-friendly.

Last but not least, we have made revisions to the Criteria, as we do every two years, to ensure that the Baldrige framework represents what we call the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice. Those revisions, centered around change management, climate change, and “big data,” are detailed in the “Changes from 2013-2014” section of the booklet.

There seem to have been a lot of other changes in Baldrige recently, including new products and services. Why is that?

The Baldrige Program’s purpose is to improve organizational performance, competitiveness, and sustainability. Our mission is to define, recognize, and foster organizational performance excellence in every sector of the economy.

If we are to accomplish our mission and purpose, we need to reach and engage with as many organizations as possible. Therefore, we have been developing new products and services that meet the needs of a broader audience, including establishing a highly regarded executive development program, in-depth training on the Baldrige framework and Criteria, and assessment services unrelated to the Baldrige Award.

I want every organization that is interested in achieving better results to think “Baldrige equals excellence” and “Baldrige can help us get better.” One of the best ways to do that happens to be getting an objective external assessment, either through the national Baldrige Award process, or through a local or regional program, but I want them to explore and use Baldrige even if they never apply for any award or recognition.

What if my organization’s leadership believes adopting the Baldrige approach isn’t easy enough?

One answer is that achieving excellence is not easy. If excellence were easy, it would be common, and there would be no need for Baldrige! But the good news is that an organization can get started with a Baldrige approach and achieve significant improvements without heavy investment, particularly with our new products and services.

The dramatic improvements and long-term success of organizations that have embraced the Baldrige framework prove that it is worth the investment. By making this commitment, organizations of any sector or size can achieve desired results despite an increasingly challenging environment.

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