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Submitted by Monte Guitar,  PMPA Director of Technical Programs
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program emphasizes continuous improvement, innovation, integration of processes, and results. The program was developed with the idea of increasing the competitiveness, quality, and productivity of U.S. organizations for the benefit of all citizens.
 How does the Baldrige Award differ from ISO 9000? According to a FAQ posted on the NIST site, the answer is:

  • “The award program promotes quality awareness, recognizes quality achievements, provides a vehicle for sharing successful strategies, and focuses on results and continuous improvement. The program provides a framework for designing, implementing, and assessing a process for managing all business operations.”
  • Overall, ISO 9000 registration covers less than 10 percent of the Baldrige Award criteria.”  

Doesn’t this make us as manufacturers crave that additional 90% of requirements, mandates and bureaucracy? On top of that, we get the chance to hear the voice of the numerous auditors (assessors) who have different interpretations of the standard (criteria). Don’t we all long to hear- “I’m from the government & I’m here to help!” 
From Manufacturing to Health Care
While the Baldrige process may have initially been driven with the betterment of American manufacturing in mind, the applications now show a key shift in those who are willing to even apply.

  • 45 manufacturing companies chose to apply when this award process began in 1988.
  • In 2008, 3 manufacturers saw this process to be of value.
  • Where are all of the applicants coming from now? The health care sector; in 2008 there were 43 health care applicants for the award.

Is the low manufacturing participation due to the fact that Baldrige ignores  the numerous other challenges currently thrust upon the backs of American manufacturers? Or is it that the Baldrige group believe  that “manufacturers just don’t understand” how the Baldrige criteria can help them?   
3 Opportunities For “Change” 

  1. The Baldrige think tank puts together a “continuous improvement plan” to address the declining applications of entries in the manufacturing and small business sectors.
  2. This group “focuses on results and continuous improvement” within their own program.
  3. They demonstrate that they have a “framework for designing, implementing, and assessing” criteria that will better serve our manufacturers.

 The easiest thing for a group to do is to define requirements to which they themselves do not have to be compliant. 
Any thoughts or experience out there that you would like to share? Unfamiliar with the Baldrige process? Check out this link for additional FAQ.

8 thoughts on “Baldrige & ISO – Which Is Relevant To Manufacturing?

  1. Phil Forve says:

    Hello Miles,
    I work for Cargill as a Team Leader for Business Excellence. Cargill is a privately owned company that provides agricultural, food, and industrial products and services to customers worldwide. Our Sunny Fresh Foods Business Unit was the first food company to receive the Baldrige Award (1999). Our BUs wolrdwide use the Baldrige Criteria for self assessment, peer assessments, and award (internal) recognition. The Criteria and the feedback developed through these reviews provide input for planning and continuous improvement. We are in many low margin industries and we cannot aford to do “extra” and bureaucratic work for the sake of a trophy. We find that the criteria help our leaders answer the questions that they need to address to create industry leading, sustainable organizations and that is why we deploy Baldrige (we call it Business Excellence) globally.
    Many of our organizations are also ISO certified to multiple standards and they find that it helps build a sound process foundation. The Baldrige Criteria are reviewed and changed as new business challenges and demonstrated best practices emerge. That is why we find them to be a useful model for us. It’s not a perfect system or model – I am quite sure perfection does not exsist in this field. However, we do find it useful, and that’s what I find the best models are – useful!
    Phil Forve

  2. Steve Hoisington says:

    I read with dismay the recent article in the PMPA Newsletter by Monte Guitar entitled “Baldrige & ISO – Which is Relevant to Manufacturing”. Once again someone is attempting to spurn a debate on which tool is best suited for organizational improvement. Little is served by chastising one tool over another, as the goal should be having a plethora of tools available to use for the right situation. It then is a matter of choosing the right tool for the right situation – which will vary organization by organization depending on culture and past experiences in using a particular tool. I learned from a very wise professor that “all models are flawed, but most are useful”. If the person or organization responsible for organizational improvement understands the advantages, disadvantages, and practical application for all tools, then the real issue becomes which tool to use. It does not matter if its ISO, Baldrige, Six Sigma, Lean, Reengineering, Workout, 7 Quality Tools, Statistical Process Control, Kaizen events, Shainin Red X, TQM, Zero Defects, etc. No wonder senior management balks as efforts to improve quality and organizational performance when one prefers to debate the advantages of one tool over another as opposed to getting the issues addressed. I trust that future articles will talk about the host of tools available for use by an organization to address issues and overall improvement. As a closing comment, as much as the article written by Mr. Guitar serves to ridicule the benefits of the Baldrige criteria’s use in Manufacturing, the original process began in the Manufacturing sector in 1988 where it eventually evolved to other sectors including healthcare, education, and not-for-profit. This is another example of a tool meant for organizational improvement in the manufacturing sector that was successfully adopted for use in other sectors – a lesson the manufacturing sector could learn in reverse (e.g. how to adopt and apply organization improvement tools from other sectors such as JCAHO in healthcare to the manufacturing sector).
    With warm regards,
    Vice President, Quality and Reliability
    Electro-Motive Diesels, Inc.
    LaGrange, IL 60525

  3. speakingofprecision says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Steve. I think the question Mr. Guitar asks is more reflective than disparaging. “If it is useful to manufacturing, why aren’t more manufacturers using it?” Every North American manufacturer has seen the current economic crisis- as well as increased volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in both their and their customers markets- erase their degrees of freedom and apply enormous pressures to reduce costs. (And reduce Waste.)
    I understood Mr Guitar’s point as being (in my paraphrase) ‘meeting the ISO 9000 requirements is only 10 % of the Baldrige requirements per the FAQ site. So of what value is the “additional 90%”of requirements heaped on by the Baldrige criteria.?’ His question asks “has manufacturing voted with their feet?” As you point out, with so many tools to choose, why has manufacturing abandoned Baldige?
    His post provides 3 opportunities for the Baldrige Folks to “practice what they preach.” Certainly a program that is aimed at improving processes of other organizations would be open to consider whether their own process no longer is seen as meeting the needs of its original ‘customers.’
    We’re with you on continuous improvement, and would invite you to provide a guest post on the quality improvement tools that you have found particularly useful in your company.

  4. speakingofprecision says:

    Phil, we understand the value of ‘tools you can use’ here at PMPA. Thanks for sharing how you see Baldrige as Foundational for your various business units as they face multiple standards globally. Useful is an important test, ad we’re pleased that you find the tool useful.

  5. M.C. Barry says:

    Electro Motive Diesles, Inc. & Cargill are a bit different in size from the shops I know! I focus on permeating ‘quality’ within every employee. You can call the tools whatever you like (and we use more than a few), but the bottom line is, if the requirements are defined and the people are trained, your goals will be accomplished. Most importantly to me are the communication tools we use in order to be sure that our employees are aware of all aspects of THEIR company. ISO happens to be the system tool to be sure our products are “in play.” We would not (nor could we afford) to have additional mandates outside of what we believe to be our own best practices.

  6. speakingofprecision says:

    M.C., I am presuming that you are from a smaller company, and that you feel that ISO is sufficent in terms of system. As I read your comment, I see the suggestion of the importance of execution over the system chosen.

  7. Monte Guitar says:

    Hello Mr. Hoisington,
    Thanks for the detailed response. I’m glad you have passion for the many processes/tools available to all businesses. Please understand that the last thing I’m interested in is stopping debate! It is why I closed the post with “any thoughts or experience out there that you would like to share?”
    I did not mean to imply that Baldrige should not be utilized (clearly there are many companies who find value with the Baldrige criteria structure). My main point was to say that I believe it is important for us all, no matter what business or service, to react to data.
    When applications go from 45 to 3 for manufacturers, it is a clear message that suggests that some type of reaction should be taken by those in charge of the Baldrige process. Mr. Baldrige was known for managerial excellence, efficiency & effectiveness of government. A key purpose within the Baldrige Award (Public Law 100-107) states the need for “improved management understanding of the factory floor, worker involvement in quality, and greater emphasis on statistical process control can lead to dramatic improvements in the cost and quality of manufactured products.”
    The above quote, along with the clear connection he had with many of Deming’s 14 points of management, says to me that Mr. Baldrige was a major proponent of American Manufacturing. So, my point is only to ask if those who run this Baldrige Award process should consider what can be done to utilize the facts before them. We all know of the beating American manufacturing has taken (both in perception and in regulation). Maybe a meeting with both large and small manufacturers is in order to understand issues/concerns and lack of participation. Perhaps a “gap” would be identified and improvements could be implemented with the goal of getting those manufacturing company’s applications back up to the level when Mr. Baldrige first had his ambitious vision.
    I suppose the other point was to create discussion! We appreciate and respect your contribution.
    Monte Guitar

  8. ISO 9000 says:

    It was a awe-inspiring post and it has a significant meaning and thanks for sharing the information.Would love to read your next post too……
    iso 9000

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