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Global Insights Archive
Doing Better than the Dream Team
by Craig A. Anderson
Article from Global Insights
September 2004

Last month we highlighted the emergence of the Baldrige Quality Award on the
international stage, and, in particular, how the Baldrige assessment criteria are now
used as the basis for national quality awards in Japan and elsewhere. This month we
will heed the lessons of the US Olympic Men's Basketball Team and focus on the
subtle but important differences between US and international definitions of
quality. As always, our objective is the same: to provide you with information that can
help you achieve your own vision of personal and organizational optimization.

In reviewing the Japan Quality Award (JQA) process in more depth, we found several
points of emphasis that can help US organizations improve performance and results.

Focus on Distinctive Capabilities
The JQA stresses the need for innovative, transformational thinking about quality
improvement; copying others results in "repetitive, imitative, and short-term
operational improvements that are optimal only within certain sections of the

Customer Relationships Based on Trust
The Baldrige and the JQA both assess how organizations build and strengthen
customer relationships, but the JQA goes further by establishing a specific
assessment item that examines how an applicant establishes customer relationships
based on trust.

Organizational Capabilities
The JQA has a neat catch-all assessment item, Organizational Capabilities, that
examines how well the applicant has linked its organizational values, employee
recruitment, internal collaboration, and employee performance evaluation. Too often
we see each of these activities performed in isolation, with a "knowledge
management" system then put into place to try to impose alignment.

Cooperation with Business Partners
In another subtle difference from the Baldrige process, the JQA specifically
addresses how an organization cooperates with its business partners. Whereas the
Baldrige asks about these relationships in the context of other assessment items,
JQA has an entire assessment item that focuses on this area. The JQA asks
applicants how they select business partners and how they work "in concert with their
business partners to increase customer value."

Our Bottom Line
The Baldrige and JQA processes are both best of breed performance improvement
systems that can help you build a better organization the right way. As the USA
Men's Basketball Team has learned the hard way, there are no geographical
boundaries around performance excellence. By the way, all kidding aside, we salute
the basketball team members who made the decision to represent their country in
Athens, and we hope that the powers that be recognize the solution to achieving
better results in Beijing in 2008 lies in…you guessed it, building a better system
(Baldrige or JQA) that integrates leadership, planning, selection, management, etc.!!)