Performance Excellence Process
Baldrige Workshops
Global Insights Archive
Approach, Deployment, Learning, and
Unlocking the Power of Baldrige Excellence
by Craig A. Anderson
February 2005

There is no better tool for fast, profound improvement in organizational
performance than a commitment to Baldrige Performance Excellence. Why? Four
reasons: Approach, Deployment, Learning, and Integration, "ADLI" in Baldrige
nomenclature. ADLI is the "architecture" that transforms Baldrige Performance
Excellence from a set of neat ideas into a powerful tool for continuous
improvement. Let's see what this means in practice.

In past newsletters we have covered the key performance areas, referred to as
Categories, upon which the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework is
based. These Categories set the aim for the organization (Leadership, Strategic
Planning, and Customer Focus), and achieve the aim through excellent
performance in Measurement and Analysis, Human Resource Focus, and Process
Management). The quality of Category 7, Results, depends on the level of
performance excellence in each of the other six Categories. See our newsletter
archive for more information at

This is where the architecture of ADLI fits in. Baldrige Performance Excellence
demands that each of the four elements of ADLI are addressed. Baldrige
Examiners, in assessing the current level of performance in each Category, will
look for evidence that an organization has well designed systems and processes
(Approach), that are deployed consistently across the organization (Deployment),
with built-in learning at all levels (Learning), that are connected logically with each
other (Integration). In a nutshell, ADLI forces a holistic look at your most important

Two legs of this architecture have been part of Baldrige Excellence from the
beginning: Approach and Deployment. These elements are really two sides of the
same coin; it is obvious that systems and processes must be designed well and
implemented effectively to achieve results. For the first fifteen years of the Baldrige
Program, Examiners focused their efforts on assessing the Approach and
Deployment within each Category.

Several years ago, Learning and Integration came into the mix. Examiners were
instructed to deepen the assessment process to include looking for evidence of
individual and organizational Learning, and Integration among the activities in
different Categories. This was a big step, because for the first time, Baldrige
Performance Excellence began to formally assess these two engines of
innovation. And it is that focus on innovation that led the leadership of the Japan
Quality Award to reengineer their program to align with the Baldrige Criteria as we
discussed several months ago in our August newsletter

OK, so we understand that Learning and Integration are important if we are to
aspire to Baldrige Performance Excellence. How do we begin to make them a
regular part of "how we do things in our organization?"

For Learning, the critical first step is to understand that learning does not happen
spontaneously, but requires a theory and process to implement. If experience
alone "taught" us how to perform, who would be anything but excellent?
Unfortunately, with a tip of the hat to the great quality leader W. Edwards Deming,
experience teaches us nothing. What we need is a will and process to learn. For
high performing Baldrige-class organizations, this means a rigorous focus on
collecting and analyzing data, assessing results and implications, and sharing this
information in a way that promotes learning. Individuals are the learners of course,
but they are enabled by working in an organization that has the discipline to ensure
that learning is documented and shared in a way that makes a difference.

Integration is the degree to which activities in each Category fit together. For
example, how will the planned consolidation in the IT department impact workforce
planning and employee recruitment, selection, and training? How will these actions
impact the budget process? How will leadership measure and assess results?
How will customers be impacted by new IT service levels? The point is, for each
organization there will be essential connections between activities; Baldrige
Performance Excellence requires that these connections be understood, analyzed,
and improved over time.

We have covered the basics this month around the ADLI architecture that supports
the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework. Next month, we will present
case studies of how a commitment to ADLI has raised the performance bar in a
couple of organizations we have worked with.