Taking Baldrige to the Next Level

I trust that most of the ACBSP membership, whether you are directly involved in the accreditation process or not, are aware that our accreditation standards and criteria follow the “Baldrige model.” And while our accreditation focuses on recognizing teaching excellence and determining student learning outcomes through continuous improvement; it is the framework of Baldrige that gives our accreditation its impact for quality.

The Baldrige framework includes processes for Leadership, Strategic Planning, Customer Focus, Workforce Focus, Operations Focus, and Results measurement.

Sound familiar?

The framework is the inspiration and legacy of Malcolm Baldrige, Jr., who served as the United States Secretary of Commerce under President Reagan from 1981 until 1987.

During his time in office, Secretary Baldrige played a key role in developing our nation’s foreign trade policy while he was involved in various complex trade negotiations with China, the Soviet Union, India, and other economic powers throughout Europe.

He helped lead the passage of the Export Trading Company Act of 1982 and his philosophies contributed to long-term improvements in efficiencies across a wide spectrum of applications. Baldrige was a chief proponent of quality management and he took a deep interest in the legislation that ultimately became the Quality Improvement Act of 1987. In recognition of his many contributions, Congress named the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in his honor.

This past month, I had the opportunity to attend the Quest for Excellence Conference in Baltimore, MD, where I witnessed the presentation of these Baldrige National Quality Awards to four recipient companies. It was an awe-inspiring occasion as the awards were presented by the new Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, who took office in just the prior month.

It was even more inspiring, however, to learn from these companies as they described their own “quest” for excellence.

The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program works under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is a measurement standards laboratory, and a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce. Its mission is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness and the Baldrige Framework has now endured for decades and serves as a model for other national and international excellence award frameworks.

It is our own pursuit of excellence that prompted ACBSP to become involved in two exciting endeavors during the past year. The Alliance for Performance Excellence is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the growth and sustainability of Baldrige-focused programs by serving its membership. Its key stakeholders include organizations seeking to improve and its key partners include the Baldrige Foundation and the National Baldrige Program.

Last September, Doug Gilbert, faculty member of the University of Phoenix and a member of the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Performance Excellence, helped create a Memorandum of Understanding that defines a voluntary understanding between The Alliance and ACBSP in which the Alliance will develop a membership and participation model to permit ACBSP to assist the Alliance in promoting performance excellence approaches as well as Baldrige and Baldrige-related Awards to member organizations of ACBSP throughout the world.

The MOU states “ACBSP is unique among business school accreditation associations in its long-standing and explicit use of the Baldrige Framework for Performance Excellence as the foundation of its accreditation standards and criteria and review process.”

ACBSP members will benefit by instituting a standard framework of quality management oriented for business school programs extending beyond current ACBSP accreditation. Application of the framework may extend beyond credit-bearing business programs to areas such as training and corporate universities to the extent that ACBSP is permitted by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Alliance and ACBSP will work together to determine recognition levels and roles and responsibilities of each organization for facilitating and administering a series of awards based on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework with the awards possibly extending to institutions located outside the United States.

In addition to the MOU, ACBSP recently accepted the invitation to join The Alliance.

What this means is that ACBSP will be working to develop opportunities for interested institutions for Going Beyond Accreditation in pursuit of total performance excellence. Many readers might remember we introduced Going Beyond Accreditation a little more than a year ago as part of a plan to develop and promote additional services and products outside of the accreditation process.

It is our hope that we can attract several pilot schools willing to take this journey, along with ACBSP, to total quality. Now, just as you may remember your own gap analysis and self-study, as well as all the time, dedication, and hard work that was required for ACBSP accreditation…this is not for the faint of heart.

Trying to understand Baldrige is one thing, and putting it to use is another. After all, improvement takes time, often measured in years of constant refinement.

So, is it worth the journey?

Studies have found that investing in quality and performance excellence pays off in markedly increased productivity, satisfied stakeholders, and dramatically improved results and this would certainly translate for academic administration…much like ACBSP Accreditation.

During ACBSP Conference 2017 to be held June 24-27 (note, this is a Saturday-Tuesday schedule), we will be announcing our plans in greater detail during the Sunday “Impact” Luncheon and we hope you will consider joining us on a quest for total excellence.

As always, we are grateful for the trust you place in us.

To connect with Jeffrey Alderman, ACBSP President/CEO, for business matters or just to say hello, please email him at jalderman@acbsp.org or call the ACBSP headquarters at (913) 339-9356.