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B A L D R I G E

A W A R D S

10 Steps To a Baldrige Award Application
Even if you don’t win, the feedback is invaluable; and even if you don’t apply, the self-assessment will do wonders for your organization
by C.W. Russ Russo

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NNUALLY ABOUT 30,000 ORGANIZATIONS REQUEST COPIES OF THE Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) criteria and application forms. Around the country,68 state and local organizations sponsor quality award programs based on the Baldrige criteria. Participating organizations are discovering writing a Baldrige application is a marvelous self-assessment benchmark process. Additionally, submitting an application—particularly to a local award—is a terrific and relatively inexpensive way to gain valuable feedback that would cost several thousanddollars from a consulting firm. So the questions become: “Should our organization write and submit an application?” and “If we do write an application, what is the best strategy to maximize value to our organization from the process?” It is important to recognize that preparing an application represents a significant commitment of time and effort over several months. The following 10 suggestions willhelp you get started: 1. Get organized. 2. Create an overall writing plan. 3. Write the performance results metrics as you go. 4. Focus on business factors. 5. Understand approach and deployment. 6. Understand the scoring for approach and deployment. 7. Understand the scoring bands. 8. Understand integration, linkage and maturity. 9. Remember your audience. 10. Learn as much as possible.

1. Getorganized
Everyone in an organization should participate in the Baldrige process. This means everyone should know the project is underway, be informed and be asked to contribute information and input.
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Appoint a team of champions to shepherd the writingproject. These few knowledgeable senior managers should provide information, help knock down barriers, read the document as it is being prepared and support the writing team. Avoid waiting until the document is complete to ask your champions to read and comment. They should be involved and provided an opportunity to contribute to the writing process while it is underway. If possible give them asubsection at a time for feedback. And remember it is not necessary to have each champion read every section. Ask champions with specific expertise to read specific sections. The writing team itself should be limited to three individuals. These three people should be long-term employees who are knowledgeable about the organization, its structure and history and have enough positional and personalauthority and respect to have access to people and information. Of course, time and resources will need to be allocated so the team can complete the project.

Tips o n Creating the
Writing Plan In an application, it is perfectly acceptable to write that you have identified an opportunity for improvement and initiated a new program. Avoid trying to collate the brainstorming lists you created withboth the core values and category items. While you can cross reference items in the two lists, keeping them separate will help you focus your writing to clearly respond to the criteria and demonstrate the core values. If you cannot identify a metric for an activity, then you have identified a hole in your system or perhaps the activity is not really relevant to your strategic operation and notimportant enough to be included in your application.

2. Create an overall writing plan
Creating an overall project plan does not mean dividing up the work among individuals and sending them off to write. Rather, it means figuring out what information goes where and how best to present it. First, organize the writing and champion teams for a study session. If possible conduct the study session...
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