Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quality and Excellence

Still enjoying summer but with a lot of projects and proposals on the go.  Hopefully they will all be ready by September.  Will talk more about them later. 

But today I received another email from the American Society of Quality (ASQ) with concern that the US government has put the congressional financial support of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program on the chopping block.  The ASQ is asking its members (presumably just the American members) to write letters of support demanding the cuts can be prevented.

I understand that every organization needs financial resources to exist, and that the Baldrige Program is a P3 program (Public Private Partnership) which implies public support, but I certainly hope that along with this rally-the-troops email solicitation program, there is also a Plan B abrewing. 

In my opinion smart, forward-looking organizations make the decision that their operation will be enhanced by a Quality program and implementation is based on internal decisions.  Being seen as a best-in-class organization creates huge goodwill and creates a significant competitive advantage.  Given the choice between mandated quality and internal (volunteer) quality, the latter has a much greater chance of impact.  There clearly is a role for regulated Quality through mandated accreditation but Quality-by-force is a constant battle.   

When an organization sees benefit in Quality and implements because it wants to, the level of enthusiasm is higher and the level of activity is greater.  That is why I strongly see advantage in the US Baldrige or the Canadian National Quality Award programs.  Whether the program is funded or not, I suspect there always will be US organizations that will be prepared to implement some version of improved Quality and Excellence on a volunteer basis. 

But there are a number of key issues of which folks should be aware.  The Malcolm Baldrige program has been in place near 25 years as a public-private partnership.  The major private partner is the Malcolm Baldrige Foundation (MBF).  After 25 years if a foundation can not survive without government handouts then I would argue either the foundation is inept or the idea is not one worth supporting.  Second, the amount of money that is going to be withdrawn after 25 years is about nine million dollars ($9M), which again I would argue for a foundation the size and maturity of the MBF should be small potatoes, especially with all its very high 
 profile and the additional support it gets from professional organizations, including the ASQ.  

These days, if they still really need the $9M, there are tons of ways to raise that kind of money.  Remember that the Baldrige Foundation is supposed to be about organizational performance excellence through innovation and improvement. 

They could have a lottery for a Malcolm Mercedes or a Baldrige Buick.  They could have bake sales for Baldrige Bagels.  ASQ and all the other organizations could a 5% fee on memberships and book sales (Buy a book for Baldrige).  How about Malcolm mugs or Baldrige buttons? 

For a country with a 15 million-million dollar debt ($15T), another $9M represents the pocket lint found on the penny in the jacket pocket, but cutbacks are an inevitable political reality. Instead of having 600 assessment staff, could they get along with 540?   A drop of 10 percent could easily have a cost reduction worth millions.  A little LEAN thinking may be in order for the MBF.

So from my perspective, it is time to stop whining and time to start showing some of that innovation and improvement that the organization so strongly endorses and supports.  Put me down for two Malcolm mugs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments, thoughts...