In response to worsening global economic conditions and faced with growing international competition, Metropolitan Life Insurance Corporation (MetLife) launched an “Operational Excellence” initiative in July 2008, with the intent to enhance operational productivity and processing efficiencies (“MetLife 10Q”, 2008). Those efforts continue today with aggressive strategies for mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures (“MetLife 10-K,” 2012), which has created an urgency for comprehensive improvement of organizational performance.
Accordingly, the author proposes the adoption of an enterprise-wide quality program modeled on the principles of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award criteria for performance excellence (“Criteria for Performance Excellence,” 2011). This paper outlines the key elements of the Malcolm Baldridge performance criteria, provides rationale for the selection of the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program, and summarizes how the program can help enhance the organization’s performance.
The Baldridge Performance Excellence Program
The Baldridge Performance Excellence Program originated with the passage of The Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Improvement Act of 1987 (“The Malcolm Baldridge,” 2010). The act, established in response to growing concerns over global competition in industries vital to the United States, created the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award to encourage and recognize superior quality improvement of products, services, and processes. To administer the award, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created an integrated framework comprising seven criteria for organizational performance management (Figure 1), which govern the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program (“Criteria for Performance Excellence,” 2011). The NIST defines performance excellence as “. . . an integrated approach to organizational performance management that results in delivery of ever-improving value to customers and stakeholders, contributing to organizational sustainability; improvement of overall organizational effectiveness and capabilities; and organizational and personal leaning (“What is Performance Excellence?” 2011).
Rationale for Selection
However, although these goals are common to most methodologies for quality improvement, the integrated approach of the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program uniquely addresses the fundamental element that underpins sustainable organizational performance – the accumulation of knowledge. The program emphasizes the importance of organizational learning in developing the knowledge required for understanding, altering, and sustaining the performance capability of organizational systems. As Dr. W. Edwards Deming (Neave, 1990) instructs, “Best efforts and hard work will not suffice, nor new machinery, computers, automation, gadgets. . . . There is no substitute for knowledge” (p. viii).
To gain this prerequisite knowledge, the integrated framework of the...