Every weekend, millions of people watch professional golf on television. The number of people who compete in the pro tours is incredibly small and the number who actually ever win a tournament is even smaller. Recently, on the men’s tour, the number has been just one.
If you do a book search on Amazon.com for the term “golf instruction”, you will find 1,058 titles. If so few people ever win anything, why all the interest in instruction? The answer is simple. People want to improve their game. They want to be the best that they can be.
I was thinking about this because I recently received the
2007 edition of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Criteria. The Baldrige Award, and the forty-four state
programs modeled after it, recognizes the best businesses in the
In spite of this small number of winners, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the agency that administers the Baldrige program, has distributed more than 2 million copies of the award criteria since 1988. It's estimated that, on average, each book is copied once, and the criteria can be downloaded from the NIST web site. Obviously there are millions of companies using the criteria for self-improvement with no intention of ever applying for the award.
Award winners are chosen because they can serve as role-models for others. In fact, one of the requirements for applying is that the winners must be willing to share their expertise. Copies of winners applications are available for download. The goal of the program isn’t to hand out awards, the goal is to improve American business. Since you’re paying for the program(s) with your tax dollars, it makes sense to take a look at what they have to offer.
NIST offers a number of no-charge materials on its web site that can be very helpful in improving any business. The first, and easiest to do is the E-Baldrige Organizational Profile. It’s just 22 questions to identify what you know about your business. You answer the questions online and immediately receive a simple break-down of how you compare to other businesses.
A second tool is a questionnaire called “Are We Making Progress”. It’s a questionnaire for your employees that helps identify strengths and areas for improvement. It’s available from NIST in either paper or electronic format. Again, the questions are easy to answer and will help you understand what your employees are thinking. You may be surprised!
Next time, we’ll take a look at the actual criteria and how you can begin to use them in your business. For now, you can learn more by visiting the Baldrige web site. Download a copy of their “Getting Started” booklet or a copy of the complete criteria. You can check this list of state and local programs to see what your state has to offer. Many state programs offer individualized help for companies who want to improve their performance either free or at a nominal fee. If you have any questions, you can email me.