Improving Your Game

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 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
modeled after it, recognizes the best businesses in the United States. Like pro golfers, Baldrige winners are the best of the best. Since the program began in 1988, there have
been just 68 winners out of 1,139 applicants. 

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

A second tool is a questionnaire called “Are We Making
. 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.



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