Magazine article Training & Development

Baldrige Opens Door to Education and Health Care

Magazine article Training & Development

Baldrige Opens Door to Education and Health Care

Article excerpt

Who hasn't heard of the Malcolm Baldrige Award? But did you know it was established by law in 1987, not only to recognize U.S. organizations for their quality achievements, but also to promote quality awareness and provide information on successful quality strategies. Over time, the award criteria have evolved to represent a business model for performance excellence.

In 1995, the Baldrige Award program conducted a pilot in education and health care. The pilot involved several key activities, including the development of education and health-care criteria, built on the seven-category framework of the award's business criteria but adapted to the two new sectors of education and health care. Individual case studies were developed for each sector, and pilot evaluation teams were created. In addition, there was an extensive networking effort with education and health-care professionals across the United States to ensure that their input was included in the molding of the new criteria. Sixty-five organizations submitted applications for the pilot program--19 in education and 46 in health care. Each applicant received written feedback on its performance management system, including strengths and areas for improvement. The results of the pilot included several key findings.

One, there was no statistically significant difference in the average category scores between the health-care and education applicants. Two, the average scores for the two pilot sectors were lower than the average scores for the previously established business applicants. Last, the profiles of the plotted scoring data indicate that it's reasonable to assume that the health-care and education categories could be modeled after the service sector, one of the original business sectors eligible for the Baldrige Award.

Despite the success of the pilot, several years went by without the necessary legislation by the U.S. Congress to extend eligibility of the Baldrige Award to healthcare and education organizations. They weren't eligible to take full advantage of the award until 1999, with final passage on October 30, 1998. During the interim, many U.S. organizations used the 1995 education and health-care pilot criteria to move forward with their performance improvement efforts. Many U.S. state and local award programs worked with local legislators, providing criteria to education and health-care organizations in their states and creating award categories that recognized their accomplishments.

In May 1997, the private foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award announced a $15 million fund drive to raise an endowment to help establish an award program for organizations in the education and health-care sectors. The creation or that endowment was contingent on the passage of federal legislation to demonstrate the public sector commitment to this public-private partnership. The purpose of the endowment was to help fund such activities as printing and distributing criteria, training private sector examiners who review applications, and supporting the efforts of winning organizations to share their best practices at the annual Quest for Excellence Conference. The foundation is actively engaged in fundraising efforts and expects to meet its goals.

Last year, for the first time, not-for-profit education and health-care organizations were eligible to compete for the Baldrige Award: 16 health-care and nine education organizations submitted applications. …

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