Still charged up about Baldrige because it’s still relevant

I’m coming up on my tenth or so year being involved with the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) and I’m still excited. I’m not possessed enough to preach from a soapbox on the corner like Leo Babauta’s example of inspiration but I am still charged up about TNCPE and Baldrige.

The Baldrige criteria is a set of questions that upon answering them an organization should be able to determine areas that it could improve. An oversimplification? No. The criteria is in essence this model:
Baldrige Model
The criteria questions grow increasingly more detailed as you dig in, but the essence is “do you have these functions (as pictured) in your organization and do they work as an integrated system to get you the results you need to succeed?” Currently, there is some heated debate over the purpose and details and funding and wording … of the Baldrige program. (see the LinkedIn Baldrige Improvement Discussion Group – membership required but free)

I think a number of the people closest to the program maybe losing sight of the program’s mission which is “To improve the competitiveness and performance of U.S. organizations for the benefit of all U.S. residents, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is a customer-focused federal change agent that: Develops and disseminates evaluation criteria, Manages the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, Promotes performance excellence, and Provides global leadership in the learning and sharing of successful strategies and performance practices, principles, and methodologies.

A number of the participants-examiners, applicants, and consultants alike-that I speak to have a vested interest in making the criteria more complicated than it needs to be. Why isn’t the national program making it easy to use the criteria? When you have intelligent young professionals posting that the criteria is overly complicated or under-explained like this Malcolm in the Middle post then there needs to be some attention given to educating Baldrige customers and potential customers on how to use the Baldrige product. Make it simple to get in initially and make small rewards immediate. Set the foundation for longtime involvement and emphasize a journey focused on continuous improvement.

TNCPE is Tennessee’s state level Baldrige program and is keeping the Baldrige criteria relevant through its innovative award structure and emphasis on making the criteria relevant to the guy using it. The Tennessee Baldrige program uses a tiered structure for awards and doesn’t limit the number of award recipients. If you achieve the level of performance indicative of the level of the award you apply for then you win that level of the award. [Run the marathon– you get a medal. It doesn’t mean you won the marathon it means you ran the marathon. You deserve a medal!] Look at the upcoming TNCPE Excellence in Tennessee Conference & Awards Banquet for more information on how you can get involved with the TNCPE and Baldrige criteria to help your organization improve.

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