Quality The Government Way

7 January 2004

I spent an arduous day in a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award consensus meeting. There’s a lot that is good about the award’s criteria, particularly if you are looking at them from the perspective of a company that has never done anything formal about continuous improvement and quality.

However, the award process is like so many things our government does. If you really wanted something improved, would you ask the government to get involved?

The award is…

  • bureaucratic – to apply, to review, to document
  • paper-driven with endless forms
  • slow
  • subjective
  • government-oriented
  • long, run-on sentences
  • short on “why” and “how”
  • better than nothing
  • a strong proof-of-need if fairly applied
  • a process that misses the point
  • a process that overlooks why businesses exist
  • unclear about how organizations set priorities and manage projects
  • basically unfunded for implementation and scoring
  • your tax dollars at work
  • missing the metrics of today
  • a failed attempt at selecting which questions to ask
  • too many things to too many people
  • thought-provoking
  • a laborious effort in word-smithing and semantics
  • incongruous with respect to scoring points and answering questions
  • absent any assessment of corrective action methods
  • non-prescriptive to a fault
  • focused on self-esteem, diversity and benefit-of-the-doubt
  • repetitive and redundant in scope
  • one size fits all
  • a clarifying eye-opener for the committed CEO
  • inexpensive to start

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