Danger Zones

Abstract:When conducting self-assessments, most teams know what questions management will ask and prepare their answers accordingly. The Baldrige criteria disrupt this complacency because they force organizations to confront questions they would rather avoid. What makes the Baldrige questions tough is that they may not be immediately clear. They are hidden within the criteria and may go unnoticed when preparing an application. Ten such tough questions hidden in the 2008 Baldrige criteria are discussed. Focusing on these 10 questions has a domino effect on the remaining requirements of the criteria and helps business units identify areas to improve …

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Very good article. We will be using your article in our Strategic Quality Management class at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Your comments illustrate y=f(x)... the first six Baldrige categories are the Xs (causes) and category seven is the Y (results). The Baldrige criteria form a measurement system -- if the measurement shows a gap, then nothing will happen if one does not apply START, START, KEEP. That is, the gaps will persist unless we START to correct what's missing, STOP what is in the process but shouldn't be there, and KEEP what is working and helping. Your Danger Zone comments are very helpful.
--John Fechter, 09-26-2009


Thanks for writing this very useful article. I think you have identified some very critical areas of the criteria. I did one full cycle of assessment for CAPE (California) and can relate to your questions in many ways. I am also impressed with your quotes from various management books in the appropriate places. I have no doubt when Baldridge criteria are applied diligently to an organization, it has a long term effect on growth and profitability. Whether an organization applies for the award or not, it is definitely worthwhile to use the criteria as a framework. I like the way you have explained the questions and identified customers, markets and core competencies.

One of the challenges I have come across in my assessments (other business maturity assessments) is in the area of knowledge management. Most organizations underestimate this area and suffer severely during headcount reduction or high attrition. This impacts sustainability. Another interesting section is best practices. Often, the project teams spend months on a project. However, it's difficult to get their attention span for a few hours to document best practices and lessons learned!

I would recommend this article to my colleagues. I know QP has limitation with word count and number of pages for the articles. This sometimes results in losing some of the important thoughts about a subject. I would suggest you enhance the 10 sections and provide Quality Progress with an expanded online version for the benefit of readers.

--Govind Ramu, 09-24-2009

Hi Juan,

Thank you for posting your comments online. Frank feedback helps.

I agree with you on the dated nature of the article. I tried to change the tone of most questions to make them version independent but could not do so in all cases. The article was submitted in October 2008 before the 2009 criteria was available.

I will try and come up with an updated version.

I agree with your view that an open discussion on such topics is needed for all of us to learn.
--Anshuman Tiwari, 09-11-2009

I have read the article thinking to find some light about this subject so particular as to implement the Criteria, especially because some items are not so easy to apply.

Unfortunately, Anshuman has utilized version 2008 of the Criteria, so many of his example are not currently asked in the item his mentioned in the article. One of them is especially important to me: core competence. The question is not located in the 6.1.a.1 item (Process) but in the 2.1.a.1, within the Strategic Planning (Baldrige 2009-2010). In that way, those responsible for updating the Criteria have taken a lot of suggestions about convenience to discuss this point at that moment and let us analyze the concept in the right place.

Nevertheless, an article like this opens a direct discussion about something so important like implementing the Baldrige Criteria.
--Juan J. Vaccaro, 09-08-2009

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