performance excellence. The award promotes understanding of the requirements for performance excellence, sharing of successful performance strategies, and understanding of the benefits derived from self-assessment strategies. The award has three eligibility categories: manufacturing, service, and small business. The 1997 Mbnqa criteria are based on the following seven areas of a company’s performance excellence:
Category One: Leadership
The leadership category examines senior leaders’ personal leadership and involvement in creating and sustaining values, company directions, performance expectations, customer focus, and a leadership system that promotes performance excellence. Also examined is how the values and expectations are integrated into the company’s leadership system, including how the company continuously learns and improves and addresses its societal responsibilities and community involvement.
Category Two: Strategic Planning
The strategic planning category examines how the company sets strategic directions and determines key action plans. It also covers how the plans are translated into an effective performance management system. Category Three: Customer and Market Focus The customer and market focus category examines how the company determines requirements and expectations of customers and markets. Also examined is how the company enhances its relationships with customers and determines their satisfaction.
Category Four: Information and Analysis
The information and analysis category examines the management and effectiveness
of the use of data and information to support key company processes and the company’s performance management system.
Category Five: Human Resource Development and Management
The human resource development and management category examines how the
work force is enabled to develop and use its full potential, aligned with the company’s objectives. This category also focuses on the company’s efforts to build and maintain an environment conducive to performance excellence, full participation, and personal and organizational growth.
Category Six: Process Management
The process management category examines the key aspects of process management,
including customer-focused design, product and service delivery processes,
support processes, and supplier and partnering processes involving all work units. It also examines how key processes are designed, effectively managed, and improved to achieve better performance.
Category Seven: Business Results
The business results category examines the company’s performance and improvement in key business areas-customer satisfaction, financial and marketplace performance, human resource, supplier and partner performance, and operational performance. Also examined are performance levels relative to competitors.
The six sponsoring organizations for this study elected to slightly modify the
1997 Mbnqa criteria to use as areas of scope for this initiative. This was due to the sponsors’ need to specifically address issues concerning award systems, site visits, and action plans relative to the self-assessment process. The scope of the study included
- Ownership of the self-assessment process
- Leadership roles
- Leadership training
- Leadership compensation for the self-assessment process
- Community relations
- Purpose and levels of awards
- Application generation for awards
- Linking multiple award systems
- External awards
- Linking and integrating self-assessments into the strategic planning process
- Roles of total quality management professionals
- Relationship between strategic planning cycle and timing of self-assessments
Customer and Market Focus
- Measuring the effect of the self-assessment process on customer satisfaction
- Changes demonstrated in the level of customer satisfaction based on the selfassessment
Information and Analysis
- Electronic database(s) used for storing self-assessment data
- Updating and accessing self-assessment data
- Data tracking mechanisms
- Sharing and dissemination of best practices
Human Resource Focus
- Measuring the effect of the self-assessment process on employee satisfaction
- Changes demonstrated in the level of employee satisfaction based on the selfassessment
- Resources used to execute self-assessments
- Recruiting examiners/examiner pools
- Union involvement
- Internal/external examiner training and certification
- Examiner time commitments
- Breakdown of internal vs. external examiners
- Examiner incentives
- Frequency of self-assessments
- Process improvement objectives
- Self-assessment tools
- Feedback methodologies for the self-assessment process
- Measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the self-assessment process
- Scoring, calibration, and consensus
- Measuring the effect of the self-assessment process on supplier relationships
- Resource management for site visits
- Site visit agenda/logistics
- Size and composition of site visit teams
- Adjusting assessment scores based on site visit findings
- Site visit feedback methodologies
- Measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of site visits
- Site visit tools
- Funding for site visits
Business Results and Action Plans
- Top management’s review of self-assessment results
- Action planning and gap closure processes
- Aggregating self-assessment results into corporate goals
- Eliminating evaluation biases
- Deploying corporate results of self-assessments to front-line units of the organization
- Measuring the effect of the self-assessment process financially
- Applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
Overview of Study Findings
The study’s key findings and insights are listed below. These high-level trends
and best practices were identified by Apqc’s study team and the study’s subject
matter expert as the main enablers of success in institutionalizing and deploying self-assessment programs at one or more of the best-practice organizations.
These key findings are based on the nine topical areas of the study scope and will be elaborated on throughout the remainder of this report.
1. The use of senior leadership, senior executives, and high-profile employees as examiners adds credibility to the self-assessment program.
2 Senior leaders and top management are highly knowledgeable about the official
Mbnqa criteria as they relate to their company’s self-assessment program.
3. Program logos and companywide memos serve as visible indicators of leadership’s
commitment to quality and improvement initiatives.
1. Basing companywide award systems on the results of self-assessments promotes interest
and higher levels of participation in these programs.
2. Companies are evolving toward removing the application steps related to the selfassessment
awarding process to keep the process simple.
3. Self-assessment programs stress improvement, rather than awards and recognition.
4. The internal awarding process prepares companies for seeking external awards
based on business process improvement results.
5. Self-assessment award programs are integrally linked to unit-level award programs.
1. Successful self-assessment programs are mature, have gone through several review and improvement cycles, and are fully linked to and integrated with the strategic planning process.
2. Quality professionals act as consultants, provide the necessary training and tools, and provide the basic infrastructure for the strategic planning and self-assessment processes.
Customer and Market Focus
1. Customer satisfaction measurement is conducted using instruments that are not formally linked to self-assessment data and tools.
2. Customer satisfaction measurement is most commonly conducted at the businessunit
level of the organization.
Information and Analysis
1. An intranet-based database increases access and allows for easy, companywide
dissemination of self-assessment and best-practices data.
2. Scoring data are most commonly stored in spreadsheet files for year-to-year comparisons and establishing trend data.
Human Resource Focus
1. Recruiting a certain percentage of new examiners each year enhances the selfassessment
program and keeps it vibrant.
2. Examiner training is rigorous and intense, and it heavily focuses on ensuring that participants have a full understanding of the self-assessment criteria and their interrelationships with official Mbnqa criteria.
3. Examiner training by external experts and the use of external examiners can add credibility to a self-assessment program.
4. Companies use an examiner selection pool to ensure they have the dedicated,
trained resources needed for assessment and site visits.
5. Examiner “swapping” can help companies increase their pool of external examiners and decrease the costs associated with hiring external examiners.
6. Union involvement in and commitment to the self-assessment process can be a
successful practice for organizations that operate with labor unions.
7. Employee satisfaction measurement is achieved using instruments that are not
formally linked to self-assessment data and tools.
8. Employee satisfaction measurement is most commonly conducted at the businessunit level of the organization.
1. The use of standard self-assessment documents that are clear and concise provides
procedural documentation and a thorough understanding of the assessment
program companywide, particularly when the company operates globally.
2. Local task forces are used to track objectives and set goals based on selfassessment
3. Improvement meetings serve as a method for incorporating timely feedback and
changes into the self-assessment process.
4. Companies are beginning to integrate various additional quality methodologies
into the self-assessment process.
5. The process of benchmarking self-assessment initiatives against other companies’
self-assessment programs provides a sound basis for comparison and continual
1. Companies use scoring bands rather than actual scores in giving applicants feedback relative to site visit results.
2. In addition to scoring bands, applicants are given item-by-item, written feedback, comments, and-in some cases-prescriptive recommendations relative to
site visit findings.
3. Site visit logistics are handled by a site/applicant coordinator who works with the
examining team in preparing for the site visit.
4. Collaborative meetings between applicants and site visit team leaders aid in eliminating site visit surprises.
5. Daily surveys and evaluations are used to measure the efficiency and effectiveness
of site visits-the results of which are used for process improvement initiatives.
6. Examiners’ units/groups fund site visit travel applicants fund logistics.
Business Results and Action Plans
1. Most organizations are decentralized and do not employ a corporate roll-up of self-assessment results.
2. Action planning accountability and deployment is local and contributes to corporate planning at a high level.
3. Gap closure is achieved by instituting a formal process for creating and following up on actions that result from internal assessments.
4. Self-assessment criteria strongly parallel official Mbnqa criteria. Baldrige concepts
are used as a business model for management, rather than solely for assessment
Benchmarking is the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices from organizations anywhere in the world to help another organization improve performance. Companies participating in benchmarking activities report breakthrough improvements in directly and indirectly
improving cost control, quality, cycle time, and profits. The American Productivity and Quality Center conducted this benchmarking study of innovative practices in institutionalizing, conducting, and deploying self-assessments using its four-phase benchmarking methodology, depicted at left.
Benchmarking Model: The Four-Stage Methodology
Phase 1: Planning
The planning phase began in January 1998 with an
extensive review of secondary literature, collected by
Information Services Department, to identify
organizations possessing innovative practices in the area
of self-assessments. The study team reviewed, aggregated,
and distributed the information to the study sponsors
in February. This research resulted in the
identification of approximately 20 organizations with innovative, world-class selfassessment
programs and/or practices.
Sponsors prioritized those organizations based upon the following criteria:
- Large organizations of 10,000-plus employees
- Three of the six companies must operate internationally
- Multiple business units
- Include manufacturing and service organizations
- Multitiered organizations with a corporate-level function
- Multiple assessments conducted per year
- Past Baldrige Award winners a plus
Finalizing the data collection tool and piloting it within the sponsoring organizations
concluded the planning phase.
Phase 2: Collecting
Based on the results of secondary research and input from the study’s sponsors,
Apqc’s study team developed a list of best-practice candidates. The team approached all of these candidates to gauge their willingness to participate in this effort. Six organizations met the criteria for being considered best practice and agreed to become “partners” for this study. In April 1998 the study team invited all best-practice partners to continue sharing
information by hosting four-hour site visits at their respective locations. The site visit data collection tool provided structure for soliciting standard responses to questions related to self-assessments from each organization.
Phase 3: Analyzing and Reporting
The team analyzed data collected from the site visit data collection
tool. The analysis concentrated on identifying critical success factors and key
enablers necessary for developing and maintaining a world-class self-assessment
program. Analysis of participant data formed the basis for this final report.
In May 1998 the Apqc study team hosted the Knowledge Transfer Session for this
study. During this meeting, Apqc presented high-level study findings and trends
to the six sponsoring companies. All organizations participating in the study received a copy of this final report, which showcases all critical success factors and all enablers
identified in the research process.
Phase 4: Adapting
Adaptation and improvement from the best practices identified throughout
a consortium study occur after the sponsor organization representatives take the study learnings back to their organizations. Apqc staff members are available to help sponsors create action plans appropriate for their organizations based on the learnings.