It’s “Quality Season”

With Spring come baseball, the Final Four, longer days, and lots of the color green.  The long winter is over (at least here in the Heartland of America) and it’s time to get back outside.

Another sign of spring is the beginning of the process for choosing winners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the various state and local awards based on the Baldridge criteria.

This post isn’t about trying to win an award  (though it’s certainly a good goal for any business).  It’s about using the criteria to improve your business.  Two frequent objections to adopting the criteria as a business model are:

  1. My business is too small.
  2. I can’t afford it.

First, no business is too small.  A one man operation use the seven categories of Baldrige as a guide for improvement just as well as a larger firm.  In fact, one of the beauties of the award process is that everyone competes on an equal footing.  No one expects a smaller company to have the resources of a large one.  Applicants are scored on how well they do for a company of that size.

The categories are:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Customer Focus
  4. Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
  5. Workforce Focus
  6. Process Management
  7. Results

All seven apply to every business and measuring and improving the way you approach them can’t help but improve your bottom line.

As far as the “can’t afford it” objection, I suggest that you can’t afford not to improve the way you do things, especially in the current environment.  It’s a cliche, but it costs a lot more to do something over than it costs to do it right in the first place.

Details of any individual award application are highly confidential, but as I go through the examination process beginning tomorrow and running through fall, I’ll post on it from time-to-time.

For now, I’d highly recommend that you get a copy of the Baldrige criteria, either from the Baldrige web site or from your local award organization.  You can order the book by mail, or you can download the pdf.

Read through it and ask yourself how improve you can use the process to improve the way you do things.  Creating processes for performing critical tasks will make your life much easier and make your business a self-sustaining asset that you can some day turn over to your kids or sell to someone else.

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