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Baldrige FAQs: Involving Senior Leaders in Baldrige

How can I encourage senior leaders and persuade/convince upper-level managers to use the Baldrige Excellence Framework and the Baldrige process?

No matter what type of organization you work in, the best way for senior leaders to learn about the benefits of Baldrige is for you to introduce them to organizations that have adopted the Baldrige Excellence Framework (includes the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence) and to the benefits those organizations have realized from the process. The annual Quest for Excellence® Conference is an excellent opportunity for your senior management to learn directly from Baldrige Award recipients about the benefits of using Baldrige. Another idea is to set up a meeting between your executive team and the top leaders from one of the Baldrige Award recipients.

Based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework, but in a less complex format that highlights just the overall questions from the Baldrige Criteria, the Baldrige Excellence Builder is also a great place to start, especially for senior leadership teams. This self-assessment helps them identify and improve what is critical to the organization’s success.

Another first step is the Your Reference Guide to Performance Excellence brochure, which you can give to your management team. This brochure presents some of the many benefits of using the Criteria and of self-assessing. 

You might also offer senior leaders sections of the Baldrige Excellence Framework itself, especially the supporting and how-to-use material as a general resource on organizational performance improvement.

If your organization is a subunit of a larger organization, consider having one unit apply for a Baldrige-based award. The benefits gained by that subunit could then be realized throughout the rest of the organization. You may need to start the process at the state level. Many state programs have tiered application or recognition systems. This may allow for a "stepping-stone" or a "walk-before-you-run" approach. The investment of time and energy could be more gradual, with some states allowing applicants to respond only at the item or category level.

Your senior leaders might also be interested in the Baldrige Executive Fellows, a nationally ranked executive development program that views leadership through the lens of the Criteria. Executives meet face to face with other executives from all sectors, as well as Baldrige Award-winning executives whom they visit; recent visits have included the Ritz-Carlton, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, and Lockheed-Martin. Baldrige Executive Fellows use their learning from the program to complete capstone projects for their own organizations, thus improving supply chains, customer relationship management systems, and much more.

For additional ideas, see "How to Use the Baldrige Excellence Framework" (page v in the Framework booklets).

Two important messages to get across:

  • The Baldrige process is not something extra—it is a systems approach to managing your organization that is integrated into what you already do or should do.
  • You do not need to apply for (or even be ready to apply for) a Baldrige Award in order to use the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria to improve your organization, no matter your size, sector, or maturity level.