Baldrige & ISO – Which Is Relevant To Manufacturing?

October 1, 2009

Submitted by Monte Guitar,  PMPA Director of Technical Programs

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program emphasizes continuous improvement, innovation, integration of processes, and results. The program was developed with the idea of increasing the competitiveness, quality, and productivity of U.S. organizations for the benefit of all citizens.

 How does the Baldrige Award differ from ISO 9000? According to a FAQ posted on the NIST site, the answer is:

  • “The award program promotes quality awareness, recognizes quality achievements, provides a vehicle for sharing successful strategies, and focuses on results and continuous improvement. The program provides a framework for designing, implementing, and assessing a process for managing all business operations.”
  • Overall, ISO 9000 registration covers less than 10 percent of the Baldrige Award criteria.”  

Doesn’t this make us as manufacturers crave that additional 90% of requirements, mandates and bureaucracy? On top of that, we get the chance to hear the voice of the numerous auditors (assessors) who have different interpretations of the standard (criteria). Don’t we all long to hear- “I’m from the government & I’m here to help!” 

From Manufacturing to Health Care

While the Baldrige process may have initially been driven with the betterment of American manufacturing in mind, the applications now show a key shift in those who are willing to even apply.

  • 45 manufacturing companies chose to apply when this award process began in 1988.
  • In 2008, 3 manufacturers saw this process to be of value.
  • Where are all of the applicants coming from now? The health care sector; in 2008 there were 43 health care applicants for the award.

Is the low manufacturing participation due to the fact that Baldrige ignores  the numerous other challenges currently thrust upon the backs of American manufacturers? Or is it that the Baldrige group believe  that “manufacturers just don’t understand” how the Baldrige criteria can help them?   

3 Opportunities For “Change” 

  1. The Baldrige think tank puts together a “continuous improvement plan” to address the declining applications of entries in the manufacturing and small business sectors.
  2. This group “focuses on results and continuous improvement” within their own program.
  3. They demonstrate that they have a “framework for designing, implementing, and assessing” criteria that will better serve our manufacturers.

 The easiest thing for a group to do is to define requirements to which they themselves do not have to be compliant. 

Any thoughts or experience out there that you would like to share? Unfamiliar with the Baldrige process? Check out this link for additional FAQ.

http://www.baldrige.nist.gov/Criteria.htm

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