Friday, December 09, 2005

About the Malcom Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Yet another discussion post for school . . . Maybe someone will find it interesting.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US gives the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards. Dating from 1987, the award is designed to help improve organizational performance practices, capabilities and results and to promote communication of best practices between organizations.

The award helps management align quality operations control with daily business practices. This results in delivering more value to customers, improving the organizations effectiveness and developing individual skills within the organization. All of these results contribute to the success of an organization (Wikipedia, 2005).

The awards that I find most remarkable are to the public school districts. The common theme about education is that it needs more money, with no discussion on how the money they have now is spent. However, recipients of the award have improved their practices to enable them to spend more of the taxpayer dollar on students, instead of overhead. For example, the 2001 Award Recipient, the Pearl River School District, has increased spending on instruction 43%, primarily through increasing operational efficiencies. The 2003 Award Recipient, the Community Consolidated School District 15, improved across the board, with measured performance per dollar spent higher than the other school districts in the area

These schools improved by creating goals, focusing on their goals and involving stakeholders from the community, faculty and partners in the community. This involvement helps to gain acceptance in the plans from all the involved parties. District 15 uses a “Plan, Do, Study, Act” cycle to continuously improve quality. Both school districts have created easy to understand metrics to measure success. This helps to facilitate fact-based management. Constant review of performance and adjustment of areas of concern mark the processes involved in both school districts.

These principles of quality have been used in many organizations, including my own company. We use and define metrics to measure performance, perform constant reviews to continuously improve quality. We reward quality performance by employees and teams. One area we fall short in is involving all the stakeholders in a project. Some decisions are made without the input of all concerned parties, and the quality of those projects reflects the lack of understanding and participation.

While other school districts remained stagnate or fell in performance, these two public school districts demonstrated that application of the principles of quality to public education could deliver substantial, measurable results.

I learned that it is possible for public school bureaucracies to change and implement quality management practices. This is very encouraging to me, in these days of shrinking school budgets and swelling government deficits.

Wikipedia. (2005) “Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award” Retrieved 12-09-2005 from

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