Performance Excellence: Leaders are Accountable & Managers are Responsible

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The Performance Excellence Criteria for the Malcolm Baldrige Model has an admirable logic. This logic is traceable to the teachings of Dr W Edwards Deming.

In India, the  IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award (based on the Baldrige) has an impressive track record. Over 150 organizations have adopted this model.

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Dr Deming advocated that a process is effective when you follow the Shewhart Cycle: Plan-Do-Check-Act. So intense was his advocacy that the Shewhart Cycle is now popularly referred to as the Deming Cycle.

It is also worth noting that when the Japanese auto industry attacked the US auto market, post the OPEC crisis, with fuel efficient cars, they broke the backbone of the US economy. Consequently, Malcolm Baldrige, the Secretary of Commerce, invited a few industrialists, as well as Dr W Edwards Deming and Dr Joseph Juran, both Quality Gurus, to establish a national strategy to contain Japanese economic aggression.

The brainstorming over an extended period resulted in what is now referred to as the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. Broadly, the Criteria are expressed in seven Categories:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Customer Focus
  4. Knowledge Management
  5. Workforce Focus
  6. Operations Focus
  7. Results.

The Results Category carries half the weightage. The other half are shared between the first six Categories (Leadership to Operations Focus).

Each of the first six Categories is further divided to two Items. In what follows, I wish to refer to these 12 Items.

Each Item has a series of penetrating questions. These questions have been very carefully crafted by the Baldrige thinktank. However, they may appear intimidating, to a first-time reader.

Here is a clue to understanding each of the 12 Baldrige Items: Look for the Deming Cycle, namely, Plan-Do-Check-Act. Elementary.

So what is the magic of PDCA? Here is a window:

  • Plan: By Leaders. They are Accountable
  • Do: Delegable to Managers. They are Responsible
  • Check: Review by Leaders. They are Accountable
  • Act: Delegable to Managers. They are Responsible.

Currently, Baldrige Examiners look for an Approach- Deployment- Learning- Improvement logic in each Category Item.

Is ADLI = PDCA? Yes of course. Look carefully.

So if an organization implements ADLI / PDCA in every process, it is likely to have a sound foundation for Performance Excellence.

The Tata Group have adopted the Baldridge Model across every business unit. They host an internal competition for the JRD Quality Values Award. The key benefits of this strategy are:

  • Building a Quality Culture, top-down
  • Facilitating Internal Benchmarking of Best Practices.

Random Thoughts:

  • PSUs must adopt the Baldrige Model
  • Municipalities must adopt the Baldrige Model
  • Indian organizations must aim to become Global Benchmarks, such as, the Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai
  • Without systematic Reviews (Learning / Check) by the Leadership Team, we are guaranteed to fail.


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8 thoughts on “Performance Excellence: Leaders are Accountable & Managers are Responsible”

  • There was this myth that Dr. Deming was ‘against’ the Balridge Award . Well , he was against some aspects – he wanted it to be non-competitive in nature (more than one winner) and he wanted it to be named after Walter Shewhart .
    Other than that he didn’t have any serious reservations .
    There’s a video of the chat between Curt Reimann and Deming that clarifies this stance .

    Thank you Suresh Sir for making this clear .

  • Wow! That is so simple and easy to understand. I believe we should follow Deming and Juran’ s example and keep it simple! PDCA it is! I have seen people talk about learning, innovation, etc. With these we only provide fodder to cheerleaders! Act is simple and it tells to you to take appropriate action – not to build a learning organisation or innovate all the time! Sometimes you just need to continue what you are doing until you have the signal from the customer or process to do something different! Also, In our eagerness to constantly innovate, we forget the need to strengthen before we improve. So PDCA should be the way forward. Thank you Mr Lulla for bringing us back to basics.

  • Sir, these are the fundamental attributes that must be followed and adhered to by all members/employees, if an organization / institution want to move up on Quality, Performance Improvement journey. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Very well connected.

    During my assignment at Max Life Insurance, we developed a process maturity index based on ADLI methodology from Malcolm Baldrige framework. This was very useful in aligning each and every process with framework.

    At Tata Housing, we took it to next level and used LeTCI based benchmark methodology to complete 20 plus benchmarking projects.

    Long live the revolution !

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