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Baldrige Excellence in a Flat World:
Amazing Opportunities for Visionary Organizations


We just had a chance to watch an online video of Tom Friedman speaking at MIT
on the themes he addressed in The World is Flat, his third Pulitzer-prize winning
book.

Friedman's key message, in his own words, is that "around the year 2000 we
entered a whole new era: Globalization 3.0. Globalization 3.0 is shrinking the world
from a size small to a size tiny and flattening the playing field at the same time....
the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0--the thing that gives it its unique character--
is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally."

Friedman continues, "the lever that is enabling individuals and groups to go global
so easily and seamlessly is not horsepower, and not hardware, but software--all
sorts of new applications--in conjunction with the creation of a global fiber-optic
network that has made us all next-door neighbors."

We agree. As a small business that has conducted projects on three continents,
we embrace the opportunities of the flat world. But we think that it is essential to
take a more expansive view of "software" to include the management systems that
guide organizations competing in this new world. Just as the quality of software
determines the performance of an electronic system, the quality of management
determines the performance of complex organizations.

And what is the best way to ensure a high quality management system that can
position your organization to thrive in a flat world? Think Baldrige. Twenty years
young, the open source Baldrige Criteria will test your organizational fitness and
adaptability in a way that no proprietary management model can. Baldrige is the
implementation guide for entering the flat world.

Hyperbole? Look at the data. The Baldrige Criteria walk your management team
along the path from planning and doing, which are important but not enough, to
learning and integrating. The Criteria do this by embedding the Approach-
Deployment-Learning-Integration structure into the assessment and scoring
process. Simply, if you do not demonstrate a systematic method for learning and
integrating knowledge into all of your core processes, you will not score well.
Which is a gift, because you will see your gaps and grasp what it will take to
achieve the level of intensity in learning and knowledge integration that it takes to
thrive.

Friedman lays out the vision: $15 cell phones loaded with Google software
downloading MIT’s open courseware, anywhere in the world; boundary-less
knowledge unleashed upon a world of hungry people who want YOUR job now.
Just like the Soviet Union learned in the 1980s, the solution is not to put up walls,
but to revamp your system. We urge all leaders to grasp this opportunity, for their
organization’s sake, and for the sake of all our children. Old thinking will lead us to
disaster; new thinking, operationalized in the Baldrige Criteria just for YOU by a
cast of thousands, will give you the fitness and capability you need to thrive. There
is no place to hide anymore, so stop trying! Make the commitment to Baldrige
Excellence and take your place in the competitive landscape of tomorrow.