The BaldrigePlus Newsletter
Issue 10, Sunday March 19th, 2000

Baldrige rubber hits the road

It’s high season in the Baldrige calendar, as teams all around the world ramp up for mid-year deadlines. And not just the heavy-duty national applicants in the US. The Baby Baldriges (the US State and Federal awards, among many others) account for many hundreds of applications, as do the international award schemes in Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere – some modified, some exact word-for-word copies of the MBNQA original.

But even those thousands of application teams are only the tip of the world-wide iceberg. On our welcome page ( we say “Firms that account for three-fifths of the dollar value of the US economy have some connection to Baldrige – they are past winners, contributors to the award process, or use the criteria for internal improvement.”

That claim was made by Harry Hertz, PhD, director of the Baldrige National Quality Program, to a New Zealand study group which included the writer. It’s at best an estimate, but even if it’s only half right, it’s still a big number. What does it mean? Consider Dana Corp:

Dana Corporation – award winners, Baldrige champions
Toledo, Ohio, based Dana Corporation is one of the world’s largest independent suppliers to vehicle manufacturers and the aftermarket, operating some 330 major facilities in 32 countries, employing more than 86,000 people, with sales of $US12.5 billion in 1998. In 1996, Dana Commercial Credit – one of seven divisions – won a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Dana drives continuous improvement through its annual Baldrige-derived Dana Quality Leadership Process (DQLP). All divisions submit 50-page application to DQLP examiners – “Dana people from a variety of backgrounds, including manufacturing, distribution, engineering, human resources, marketing and finance,” according to the company’s website ( Each division gets a feedback report and a score for each Baldrige category. Since the program was established in 1992, Dana has seen a direct correlation between rising DQLA scores and increased quality performance.

Andreas Glitsch, Dana’s Director of TQM in Europe, emailed recently to point out a fault with one of the illustrations in the Baldrigeplus Assessment resource (at

“Thank you for this web site! It is one of the best and most useful we have seen,” Andreas wrote [I’ve edited Andreas’ email slightly].

“We very much like the Assessment Workshop," he continued, "but there is a mistake.” He was right, there was a mistake. When I emailed a copy of the fixed PDF, I asked what Dana was using the workshop material for.

“We have been using Baldrige since 1992 as our internal improvement process for divisions,” he replied. “For five years we have been doing this globally. Last year we had 70 applications and 474 examiners, worldwide. We do examiner training on a regional bases, supported by our internal training school, Dana University.

”I am responsible for all TQM activities in Europe, training for the Baldrige process and administering the process. I am an assessor for [the European derivative of the Baldrige] for the second year, and we are a member of that organization as well.

"I will use your material for benchmarking our training material." In 1999, among scores of other awards, Dana’s Spicer Heavy Axle and Brake division won the North Carolina Quality Leadership Award (a Baby Baldrige). Wix Filtration Products Division won an Oklahoma Quality Achievement Award and two North Carolina Performance Excellence awards. The Spicer Trailer Products Division won two Alabama quality awards. The Hopkinsville, KY, Parish Structural Products facility won a Kentucky Governor’s Gold Quality Award, the only plant in the state to receive the top level award in 1999. And Dana Corporation-Boston Weatherhead Division of Hohenwald won the Tennessee Quality Achievement Award.

In previous years the list has been just as long. Dana is a winning organisation. And the basis of its success is pure Baldrige – one national award, but thousands of people involved in ‘Baldrige’ activities. Multiply that throughout the US (and the whole Western) economy, and it’s not hard to believe Harry Hertz’ claim.

Six Sigma V
New subscribers may like to catch up at (click on back copies), but in brief, we’ve been debating Six Sigma, the controversial but highly fashionable approach to performance excellence that’s characterised by ambitious and apparently statistically robust goals (3.4 defects per million opportunities) but dismissed by some as expensive and maybe dangerous hocus-pocus – ‘Zero Defects on steroids’.

We’re persisting with the debate for several reasons. It’s useful to large numbers of our readers, it’s controversial in a large number of corporate environments, it aerates contemporary performance excellence issues, and it’s fun! The comments below are edited from our email correspondence, and from posts on the Deming Electronic Network, where an SS thread has been running for some time.

Don’t try to understand Six Sigma in traditional statistical terms, says Rip Stauffer (Senior Consultant with BlueFire Partners of Minneapolis, MN), “Although it is based on that statistical concept, it is NOT the same thing. Striving for six sigma quality means that you are striving for an aggregate equivalent to six sigma.”

Do you need Six Sigma. “Depends," says Stauffer. "At the very least, Six Sigma is a foot in the door, and it is raising quality awareness. I attended a recent Six Sigma conference in Miami, and heard speakers from Motorola, GE Medical, and a number of other companies who had a few years' Six Sigma experience. One thing that struck me was that almost all the more ‘mature’ companies had learned a lot about quality. I made a list of [Deming’s 14 points] in my notebook and checked them off as the speakers mentioned them. Perhaps all the companies hadn't learned all 14, but it seemed that a couple had, and almost all of them seemed to be on their way. The important thing was, they were learning. They were getting there the long way, maybe, but they were getting there.

”In the wrong hands, Six Sigma is ‘Zero Defects on steroids,’ and could be very dangerous,” Stauffer concluded. “It currently has some questionable people in its vanguard, and there is a pretty large controversy within ASQ over its endorsement of those questionable people.”

Dashboard numbers
We’ve also been debating what data senior management teams should have reported to them, and comparing the pros and cons of dashboard-style aggregate reports, and raw data presented in control-chart format.

Again, there’s a DEN thread on that subject, and here’s part of a post by Jerry Mairani ( “Presently, I am engaged with several organizations in setting up ‘Dashboard’ measurement systems. Each time I begin … with a new organization it requires a new approach, new dialogue, new ideas, new understanding, and new knowledge of the senior leaders and their system. What they want from me is a ‘magic bullet,’ one that requires little effort on their part but will wipe away all of their issues. They also want control. It is only through careful and patient [work] with them that they begin to understand why they want a measurement system, how it will work, that they must be part of designing it, and what it will do for them. The answer to ‘what charts does a CEO need’ is truly ‘it depends.’ It depends on what is learned through this engagement about them and their system.”

Making the point that workplace real politick is a fact of life, Steve Hoisington noted in Newsletter 9 that “If management wants a simple, one-page report card on quality status, and you cannot convince them otherwise, then the Quality Dashboard provides a comprehensive consolidation.”

Steve Prevette’s emailed response: “If management insisted on building a pyramid with its top pointing down, one would hope that the engineering staff would point out the hazards of doing such a project. Likewise, the statistical staff has a certain responsibility to help and guide the internal customer, even if they are the CEO.”

Sure, Prevette says, it is impossible to portray large numbers of raw control charts on one page. “In this case,” he says “a textual executive summary, with bulletized highlights may be best. Why continue the fallacy that you could actually make management decisions from a single page? Better yet, cut down the number of measurements to the critical few. Robert MacNamara's In Retrospect contains some interesting insights about misuse of numbers, and reliance on the ‘whiz kids’ to make the decisions for management. I believe that there should be minimal ‘interpretation’ for managers.“

International notes
The Deming approach to quality management is not just a North American topic. We’ve picked up a report from the British Deming Association’s London and South-East Transformation Network, summarizing a 29th Feb, 2000 address by celebrated British ISO-buster John Seddon, “occupational psychologist, author and managing director of Vanguard Consulting [who] describes his work as a combination of systems thinking (how the work works) and intervention theory (how to change it),” summarised by Bill Tate of Prometheus Consulting (, author of Demerging organisations - a guide to best practice (Financial Times Management, 1999).

“Billed as ‘having controversial views, and not short on ideas or humility,’ John Seddon lived up to his reputation from the word go,” Tate wrote. “John combines … expertise with a startling openness. He has enjoyed revelations on the path to enlightenment, and was willing to share these steps in his journey …. Most telling, he contributed to the British Airways 'Managing People First' programme in the mid-1980s, but no longer believes in this kind of thing.

“He doesn't ‘do’ training anymore. Trying to change attitudes and behaviour in the classroom is a waste of time, if not a con. Even more controversially, he doesn't ‘do’ vision, values or teamwork any more, because they address the symptoms! Instead, John has a new paradigm.

“To understand the shift, we have to go back to the world of mass production which owes much to FW Taylor, Alfred Sloan, Henry Ford, et al. According to John, there remains in place a dominant managerial mindset (command and control, standardised working, management by numbers) … policies and practices long past their sell-by date.

“The upshot and the evidence (witness the recent British Nuclear Fuels debacle) is that workplaces are riddled with controlling, parental, distrustful, straitjacket approaches, which those who advocate them would never deem appropriate or worthy as a means of shaping their own performance. Many are just plain dumb, and attempts to improve them are dumb.

”So what is the new paradigm? Its source is to be found primarily in systems thinking. W.Edwards Deming would be delighted. He would claim that people (appraisal and training interventions, for example) is the wrong target: inefficiency and waste result from faulty systems. As a consequence, employees utilise perhaps as little as 15% of their goodwill and capability (recent research in the United States suggests it may be as low as 5%).

”Claiming that ‘the people who do the work are never the problem,’ as a breed he finds managers an easy target for his waspish nature [taking] the all too familiar potshot at them, as if they weren't also people – and what is more, people often trapped, suffering and disempowered by the same warped systems and mindsets.

”However, John's main point is that many people have to endure badly designed workplace systems. Managers examine, measure and act upon the wrong things when they want to improve performance. But with a systems thinking hat on, interveners can enlist the workforce in redesign. Learning and change then happen as a matter of course.”

His account of the meeting failed to do justice both to a complex field and to John's wide-ranging talk, Tate said, “So take a look at his consultancy's website: This contains much rich material, including many downloadable guides and articles, some generously given away free. Note that Vanguard's website is being redesigned and renamed, an act symbolizing the story of John's professional journey in one word.”