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Summary Analysis of Baldrige Scoring Data:
Key Observations and Lessons Learned

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Office released publicly for the first
time scoring data for all applications submitted from 1990 to 2006. The data is
presented in a way that protects the privacy of the applicants and is available in
PDF and Excel formats at

The data is interesting and may be useful for organizations at any point on their
Baldrige journey. The following key lessons are drawn from an analysis of the data
from 1999, when the Award formally added the Education and Health Care
sectors, through 2006.

Finding 1: Many Applications Score Poorly
Fewer than one-third of the applications scored over 500. Small Business and
Education applicants were the outliers, with only 27% and 23%, respectively,
reaching 500. Our view is that 500 is a baseline performance for a Baldrige
aspirant, to reach the corresponding 50% to 65% scoring band, an applicant must
consistently demonstrate an Approach in each Performance Category that is:

* An effective, systematic response to the overall requirements of the item.
* Well-deployed, with some variance across areas and work units.
* Improving key work processes in a fact-based, systematic manner.
* Aligned with key organizational needs.

The fact that two-thirds of applicants at the national level are falling short indicates
that we all have a lot of work to do.

Finding 2: Health Care is the Toughest Sector
Twenty-five percent of all applicants that receive a score of at least 500 will receive
the Baldrige Award. This varies significantly by sector, however. Around 40% of
Manufacturing, Service, and Small Business applicants scoring over 500 will
receive the Award, but only 27% of Education applicants and 11% of Health Care
applicants will do likewise. This may reflect the high number of Health Care
applicants (161 out of 459 applications from 1999 to 2006) but it makes it clear
that the path to an Award is more difficult for this sector.

Finding 3: Small Business and Education Scores are Lower
Average scores for Small Business (392) and Education (396) applicants were
significantly lower than Health Care (456), Service (437), and Manufacturing (430).
It is not clear without further research what accounts for these gaps, and certainly
there have been outstanding Award recipients in the Small Business and
Education sectors.

Finding 4: Application Numbers are Down
Seventy applications were submitted in 2009, down from an average of 85 for
2006 through 2008 (Non-Profit sector applications were accepted beginning in
2006). This may reflect the difficult economic climate, but it highlights an ongoing
challenge. Health Care applications outnumbered Manufacturing applications by a
20-1 ratio.