By Candi S. Cross
One of three companies to earn a Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award in 1988, the year that the awards program was established, Motorola Inc. turned judges’ heads with a tenfold improvement initiative of zero defects in its products and services worldwide. At that time, the company claimed 99,000 workers and 53 facilities.
Judges commented, “Motorola’s managers literally carry with them the corporate objective of ‘total customer satisfaction.’ It’s on a printed card in their pockets. Corporate officials and business managers wear pagers to make themselves available to customers, and they regularly visit customers’ businesses to find out their likes and dislikes about Motorola processes and services. The information, along with gathered data through an extensive network of customer surveys, complaint hotlines, field audits and other customer feedback measures, guides planning for quality improvement and product development.”
Twenty years later, Cargill Corn Milling North America earned the award in the same manufacturing category for, among other strides: maintaining an error-free delivery rate of 99 percent from fiscal years 2005-2008; maintaining a team-based culture and matrix organization that fosters an environment of cooperation, communication, skill sharing and leveraging diverse ideas; and follow-through on a commitment to customers through community service.
Why is Baldrige important for your company today? According to Harry Hertz, director of the Baldrige National Quality Program, the answer is that the criteria helps you think and act strategically, align your processes and your resources and engage your workforce and your customers. Since communication, productivity and effectiveness make up the backbone of any successful business, simply going through the exercise of completing the application will strengthen an organization’s core.
“Is addressing all the Baldrige criteria easy? No!,” exclaims Hertz. “But neither is achieving sustainable results in today’s challenging environment.”
Before setting out to reach that destination of performance excellence, note Quality Texas Foundation’s summary of a few additions to the 2009-2010 Baldrige criteria: