The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence was created 25 years ago by the federal government to recognize excellence in business. In its history, many high profile organizations (or divisions of them) have won this rigorous award, including Ritz Carlton, Motorola, FedEx, Boeing, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin. This doesn’t consider the numerous extremely successful and well-managed organizations you’ve never heard of. Sadly, only in the last few years has government even been able to apply. It shows.

The foundation of the Criteria are eleven core values that set the stage for a series of processes organizations should have for success. Just for giggles, let’s imagine an interview with Congress and ask them how their leadership aligns with these values.

Visionary Leadership: A key sentence in the description: “the vision, values, and expectations should balance the needs of all your stakeholders.

Congress: “Does balancing on the brink of default count?”

Customer-Driven Excellence: “Many factors may influence value and satisfaction over the course of your customers’ experience . . . . These factors include your organization’s customer relationship management, which helps build trust, confidence, and loyalty.

Congress: “Your constituents are as important as mine? Please provide your definition of trust, confidence, and loyalty. Sounds like a lot of jargon.”

Organizational and Personal Learning: “Organizational learning includes both continuous improvement of existing approaches and significant change or innovation . . . .”

Congress: “Well, we figured out how to gerrymander districts to make it impossible to lose an election. Isn’t that innovative?”

Valuing Workforce Members and Partners: The criteria state “In successful internal and external partnerships, the partners develop longer-term objectives, thereby creating a basis for mutual investments and respect . . .”

Congress:  “We are mutually invested in loathing, disgust, and narcissism.

Agility: The criteria call for the “capacity for rapid change and for flexibility in operations . . . and nonprofit and government organizations are increasingly being asked to respond rapidly to new or emerging social issues.”

Congress:  “We rapidly postpone decisions and quickly point out the deficiencies in the other guy’s ideas.”

There are six more core values around Focus on the Future, Systems Perspective, Focus on Results and Creating Value, Management by Fact, Societal Responsibility, and Managing for Innovation. In the spirit of Lean concept of adding value, I think we’re done here.


Evans Kerrigan

Evans Kerrigan works tirelessly in both corporate and public sectors as a dynamic business consultant, presenter, and coach. With over 30 years of experience working with multi-national organizations such as Cisco, Sun, Blue Cross Blue Shield, BP, State of Arizona and King County Washington, Evans has been at the forefront of change management--building healthy organizations and creating great places to work. His contributions to these organizations have been credited with increasing employee engagement scores, dramatic reductions in costs and improvement in efficiencies and revenue, resulting in improved operational excellence.