The Baldrige Award
Introduced in the USA in 1987 to promote TQM by providing a common framework for all to use, its sponsors were the Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The awards were also intended to give national recognition to organisations exhibiting exemplary performance in their products or services and in the way they are run.
The Baldrige framework
Assessment of applications for the award is against 7 categories entailing 28 exam items and 91 areas to be addressed; schematically the Baldrige System looks like this:
Evaluation against the Criteria
A pre-screening process is followed by a four-stage review of applications by a Board of Examiners.
Scoring is on a points scale with 1000 maximum. (The majority of applicants score 500 or less). As a general rule those scoring 600 or over get a site visit by the examiners for verification of their application data. The awards for those who qualify are announced annually.
There can be little room for argument about the relevance and validity of the individual Baldrige criteria. The unanswered question, however, is how to bring about the essential changes in management thinking without which any programme which depends as this does on employee involvement, will fail.
Questions also need to be asked concerning the very great bureaucratic load, spawning as it does, committee based responses (to plan and control the structure, data gathering, report writing etc). Could there not be an alternative approach whereby the amount of effort involved could be applied more directly to improving the business?
We believe there is.