Is the Baldrige Journey to Excellence Over?


“Excellence is a journey, not a destination.”

This isn’t just one of my favorite quotes, which I recently discovered we can thank Brian Tracy for.  It also turns out to be the header on the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) site, in response to Why Take the Baldrige Journey?

I can’t say I was surprised by Paul’s topic in View from the Q this month, which is a very poignant response to the threat of funding cuts where the Baldrige national award program for performance excellence is concerned.  He states, and I’m going to have to agree, that the Baldrige Award  is “a model program and a return on investment for American taxpayers in a multiple of the cost.”

Now, I’m usually the first person out there yelling about the ridiculous manner in which our tax dollars are allocated.  I’m even the one who recently called for a line-by-line audit of all spending, in an effort to trim the fat and get the economy back on track. Government spending is simply out of control, and some major changes need to be made.  I’m not going to argue with that. I’m the last person that wants to hand my children a deficit they can’t possibly wrap their hands around, and I also don’t want the government to take more of my cash in an effort to cover irresponsible spending habits. I suppose it goes back to the Keynes & Hayek dispute, but I digress…

What I didn’t consider in my ultimate plan to resolve this country’s financial woes was that a program that provides such proven incentive towards innovation, sustainability and overall improvement within all the key sectors (education, nonprofit, health care, government, manufacturing, service and small business) would be on the chopping block.  Why would the powers that be (Obama’s Fiscal Commission) decide that a program whose very mission is to “improve the competitiveness and performance of U.S. organizations” is something we can do without?  Seriously? Considering the overall economy’s state of being right now, I would think this is exactly the kind of program we need to be touting, as an effort to get ourselves back up again and stay at the top of our game.

I usually discuss the Baldrige Award in my Intro to Business classes.  It’s often excluded from textbooks, even when there’s a chapter on quality.  I incorporate it because I want students to know that the government supports quality and excellence, and that it’s a driving force towards a competitive advantage that we need to hold on to.  As this semester comes to a close, I remember discussing the 2010 award winners.  The students were so engaged with each of the seven winners and how they used the program to achieve greater results than they likely would have without it.  Hearing about this recent threat to the program, those same students expressed sincere disappointment over something that has shown such tangible and overall positive results. My sentiment is the same…

In View from the Q, Paul poses the question of what is the value of national quality or excellence award programs?  That’s simple… and, it turns out to be the same reason I use a reward system to get my kids to behave the way I want them to.  We don’t need to know too much about B.F. Skinner and behavior modification to know that reinforcement works.  And, that’s the value.  It works!



  1. Paul Borawski  •  Dec 9, 2010 @11:50 pm

    Thanks for raising your voice so clearly! To me there’s value in the examples of the reipients. There’s value in the jobs their success leads to. There’s value in the competitiveness of great companies, and there’s value in the reduced waste of poor quality. If we could take the cost of poor quality and waste out of healthcare imagine the benefit to the world.

  2. Kerrie Christian  •  Dec 28, 2010 @6:45 am

    I love the honesty in your post on Baldridge.

    Sometimes there is value in tax dollars being allocated to programs which promote outcomes for the greater good of society.

    Baldridge is not a sexy award in the general public eye in the USA – I suspect but cannot personally verify being from DownUnder Australia.

    So sometimes programs which generate public good but which will not win popularity contests need to be supported. Otherwise it will be like the Big Yellow Taxi song – we don’t know what we’ve lost till it’s gone