Companies Fail To Align Activities With Results

Mark Dean and Cynthia Tomovic accurately point out the need for further research into the relationships among the items in the Baldrige criteria and their overall relationship to organizational effectiveness and the capabilities of business, education and healthcare organizations (“Does Baldrige Make a Business Case for Quality?” April 2004, p. 40). We are eager to conduct such research.

The authors also correctly cite the reasons extensive research has not occurred to date, the lack of authority and funding and the need to protect the confidentiality of information provided by Baldrige Award applicants.

That said, it is important to emphasize the Baldrige criteria make up a results oriented systems approach to overall organizational management that can help organizations improve processes and results. The requirements for trend data document improvement over time and the rate of that improvement. The criteria and scoring system have been empirically tested by thousands of users and are continuously improved based on what we learn from users, the results of academic research and the needs of the communities we serve.

If quality management is approach and deployment (as asserted by the authors), then the Baldrige framework goes beyond quality management because results are vital to the achievement of performance excellence. We believe many organizations fail in their quality management programs because they expend tremendous energy and resources on approach and deployment without monitoring or aligning their activities with key processes and results.

The fictitious example the authors chose to illustrate their point (the Blarney Award for Home Run Effectiveness) ignores a key aspect of the relationship between the Baldrige approach/deployment items and the overall effectiveness of an organization. An organization must show results that are directly related to each of the six process categories rather than a single result that is not directly correlated to any of the items in
categories one through six.

To improve, organizations must do more than say they carry out a particular process. They must demonstrate the process produces specific results that are systematic and sustainable, or they should rethink the process.

If a truly analogous example were to be cited for the Blarney Award, the process items and their correlating results might be:

  1. Physical strength—pounds bench pressed.
  2. Overall foot speed—speed to first base.
  3. Overall stamina—results of annual team physicals.
  4. Hand-eye coordination—reflex speeds.
  5. Fan approval—number of autographs signed each year.

A successful outcome of these processes would be a high performing ballplayer.

It would be worth researching the relationships between process items and overall organizational success to better understand the relative importance of each item to overall success. However, the business, healthcare and education communities are paying attention to the overall performance improvement being accomplished by award recipients because they already recognize that paying close attention to categories one through six helps improve overall performance. History has shown the organizations that have adopted the criteria range from those on the verge of failure to those that are already excellent organizations.

In the spirit of continuous and breakthrough improvement, the Baldrige National Quality Program will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the criteria and identify organizations for others to emulate. We welcome thoughtful discussions about the Baldrige Award and criteria and comments and ideas for improvement.

Our next annual improvement day is July 28. Please check our website, www.baldrige.nist.gov, for a call for comments and registration information.


deputy director
Baldrige National Quality Program

Change Management Article Gets to the Point

I would like to express my appreciation to Brien Palmer for his excellent article on change management (“Overcoming Resistance to Change,” April 2004, p. 35).

As the director of quality management and an ISO management representative, I am a major catalyst for change in my company. This afternoon, as I was about to walk into a meeting with my president to discuss a proposed change, the latest issue of Quality Progress was delivered to me. I scanned the article and was able to immediately apply its principles. It was easy to read and got right to the point.

Keep those excellent articles coming!

BAE Systems
Austin, TX

Reader Reminded of Past Experience With Saab

I enjoyed Richard J. Schonberger’s article “Make Work Cells Work for You” in the April 2004 issue of QP (p. 58). His recounting of two decades worth of personal experience in this arena was stimulating and brought to mind something from my own past experience.

In the early ’80s, I was working on European cars and learned Saab Cars had built a new plant in Torslanda, Sweden, that would employ the concept of assembly teams. The majority of the final assembly of each car was accomplished on unique work platforms that were capable of multiaxis articulation of the car.

The amount of kneeling, bending and stooping was measurably reduced. Assembly technicians were able to crosstrain and swap responsibilities with little effort and less workflow interruption. Teamwork and cooperation readily improved, and after-hours sports competitions between teams became popular.

Apparently, the total vehicle assembly time was reduced and plant productivity improved, but the “build quality” of Saab cars did not come of age until after General Motors took over in the ’90s. I think it would be interesting if Schonberger investigated Saab’s efforts during the years just before GM took over, applied his expertise and commented on where Saab might have gained more ground.

M7 Aerospace LP
San Antonio, TX

Quality Manual Explained In Simple Terms

The excerpt from Kevin R. Grimes’ book in the March 2004 issue (“Basic Requirements of a Quality Manual,” p. 21) was simple and easy to understand, even by those who have little knowledge of how to prepare a quality manual.

Tucker Energy Services
Trinidad & Tobago

Eliminate Signatures, Keep the Policy Short

Though Kevin Grimes’ article on quality manuals was excellent, I have a few additional comments.

First, in the section on reviews and approvals (p. 25), Grimes says it is not necessary for every page to be signed. To save space on the page and eliminate clutter, I suggest eliminating signatures from the text pages altogether. If the company’s policy says a senior executive approves the manual and assigns the responsibility to make or coordinate all revisions to one individual, and if that individual conforms to the policy regarding the approval of revisions, then all subsequent revisions would be approved. Does this meet the requirements of ISO 9001?

Second, regarding the quality policy (p. 27), I believe it is better for a company to have as short a policy as possible. All the extra detail in a long policy could be used against the company if it were involved in litigation. The company would then be put in a defensive position, and unless the details were crystal-clear, the plaintiff lawyer could probably twist the meanings to the detriment of the company.



  • In the “Juran’s Greatest Contributions” sidebar in the May 2004 issue (p. 31), Daniel Duhan’s title should have been director, not VP.
  • The percentage signs in Figure 5 of “What Do CEOs Think About Quality?” by Greg Weiler (May 2004, p. 55) should not be there. The numbers should be presented as mean scores, not percentages. Also, we decided to highlight the four attributes included in the figure and neglected to remove the other three bars.
  • Hallmark is headquartered in Kansas City, MO, not Kansas City, KS, as stated on p. 60 of the article “Make Work Cells Work for You” by Richard J. Schonberger (April 2004).

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