A Baldrige Message of Hope and Celebration
March 5, 2013
Baldrige Customer Service
Debbie Collard is immediate past chair of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Foundation, who served as chair from 2011 to 2012. She is currently Director, Quality, Safety, Continuous Improvement for Commercial Airplanes at the Boeing Company.
As I join you this year in celebrating 25 years of the prestigious Baldrige Program, the only performance excellence® program with a Presidential Award, I pause to reflect on where Baldrige has been, where it is today, and what the future holds for the only public-private partnership that informs, inspires, and motivates organizations to improve.
I can personally go back to the beginning of the Baldrige story because I became involved in 1991, only a few years after the legislation was passed to create the award in 1987 and the first awards were given out in 1988. We all know the story. Poor quality was taking its toll and costing American industry the equivalent of 20 percent of sales revenues nationally. To get out of this crisis, we had to find a way to regain our competitive advantage. America did it by embracing performance excellence. Baldrige led the way and continues to do so.
My experience in Baldrige since those early days is similar to the thousands of great people who have made Baldrige part of their work and volunteer life. I have served in multiple Baldrige-related roles including leading improvement activities at several organizations and participating in the national and many state award programs, and I have had the good fortune to lead performance excellence journeys at two national recipient organizations: one in manufacturing and one in the service sector. The opportunities to use Baldrige and serve as a volunteer seem limitless.
After serving on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Foundation board support staff, as a Foundation board member, as chair, and now as "immediate past chair," I realize I have been witness to many wonderful Baldrige moments. Some of those moments occurred at the many Quest for Excellence® conferences that I attended and where I listened to recipients sharing their amazing stories. Other moments were at multiple award ceremonies where I stood and cheered with overwhelming pride at the achievements of the winners and when I got to meet our nation’s leaders. Yes, I have met and talked to Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Secretaries of Commerce.
I reflect on what I have witnessed over these 25 years. Five different Presidents and their administrations have served as stewards of the Baldrige Program. Ninety-three award recipient organizations have been publicly acknowledged as performance excellence role models and shared their best practices so that other organizations could learn and improve.
After 25 years, Baldrige continues to be the only public-private partnership at the national, state, and sector level that provides validated, modern business practices and resources to help improve the competitiveness and performance of U.S. organizations for the benefit of all U.S. residents. Today, Baldrige is a recognized leader in performance excellence, emulated across the nation and around the world.
I also vividly recall a critical period in Baldrige’s impressive history. In 2011, the program lost federal funding. Although this was disappointing, adversity often drives innovation. Alternative avenues of support were created. The program established cost recovery fee-based services, and the Foundation is now creating a fundraising culture within the Baldrige community.
What will the next 25 years look like for Baldrige? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I know that Baldrige is every bit as important and impactful for the United States as it was when it was created 25 years ago. Our nation is experiencing a transformation because of globalization that is as significant as the social and economic forces that shaped America after World War II. America continues to need Baldrige. Developed and developing countries are also using Baldrige or a derivative of it to improve organizational performance and competitiveness.
The past 25 years of award recipient improvement results tell us that performance excellence provides manufacturers, service organizations, and small businesses with a competitive advantage and increased revenue; improves educational quality, academic outcomes, and graduation rates; and improves health care outcomes related to mortality and patient safety while reducing overall health care costs. Baldrige plays a crucial role in helping our communities and the nation remain competitive and its people prosperous. We are the recognized global leader in performance excellence, and by transforming how we operate and expanding our capacity through the Enterprise model, Baldrige can expand its reach and capabilities to remain the role model.
As we near the 25th Anniversary Gala and Quest for Excellence, I feel we have much to celebrate and look forward to, such as honoring the latest Baldrige Award recipients, additions to an elite group of recognized world-class organizations, and building on a rich history of 25 years of performance excellence. I feel extremely honored to have served in every role with dedicated people who are passionate about performance excellence and continuous improvement. I look forward to continuing to be involved in the bright future of Baldrige!