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Baldrige Excellence in the Federal Government:
Prepare Now for Success in 2006 and Beyond
by Craig A. Anderson
Article from Global Insights
December 2004

We have had several discussions recently with Federal executives interested in
the possibility of their agencies competing for the Baldrige National Quality Award
in 2006, the first year that government and non-profit organizations will become
eligible under legislation signed into law this past October. Even though it is 1-1/2
years before 2006 applications will be submitted, there is plenty that leaders can
do now to pave the road for future success:

(1) Begin working now for success in 2006

(2) Set a baseline so you can document improvements over time

(3) Build internal capacity

(4) Learn from past winners

(5) Conduct a frank assessment of your organizational readiness

Government (and non-profit) organizations have been given the advantage of time.
Although the bill extending the Award to these sectors was signed into law this
past October, it will take a year to put the necessary infrastructure in place
including developing criteria and training additional Examiners. This effort will also
ripple through the 40+ state programs that employ the Baldrige Criteria. (We
discussed the many excellent state-level quality award programs in last month's
Global Insights newsletter, http://www.gpsinc.us/Insights_2004Nov.html)

What this means is that serious organizations have time to do the hard work
necessary to become competitive. Now, let's look at each of the key points in a
little more detail.

Key Point 1: Begin working NOW for success in 2006

There is no instant pudding. All national and state award winners that we have
worked with or studied tell the same story--it takes at least 2 years to put into place
the new systems and processes you will need to achieve Baldrige level quality and
results.

Key Point 2: Set a baseline to document improvements over time

Results count for 45% of the total score in a full Baldrige assessment. Applicants
that score in a competitive range demonstrate consistent and/or improving results
over several years. It is critical for any organization considering applying to begin
developing a starting point, i.e., a baseline of current levels of performance in the
most important areas (hint: areas that matter the most to customers)

Key Point 3: Build internal capacity (e.g., Category Champions)

Winning a Baldrige Award is a team effort. An approach that has worked for past
winners is to identify "Category Champions" for each of the 7 Baldrige
Performance Categories. These Champions will work on a part- or full-time basis
building the internal systems and support necessary to address the scoring
Criteria.

Key Point 4: Learn from past winners

Learning and sharing of best practices has been embedded in the fabric of the
Baldrige Program since its inception in 1987. All winners commit formally to
sharing what they do with all interested organizations. Begin now to bring best
practices into your organization, perhaps through the leadership of the Category
Champions and your senior leadership team.

Key Point 5: Conduct a frank assessment of your organizational readiness

Baldrige Excellence is not for everyone. Make sure an investment makes sense
before you commit resources, energy, and intellectual capital. An independent
Baldrige readiness assessment can spotlight your strengths and weaknesses, and
provide frank feedback regarding whether or how to proceed. Use your own
specialists, or bring in a certified State or National Baldrige Examiner.

The bottom line for interested Federal organizations? The world's finest
performance excellence system is headed your way. Consider the key points
above as a way to position yourself to take advantage of this unprecedented
opportunity. To learn more, contact Craig Anderson at 301-309-8530, or via email
at
canderson@gpsinc.us.