Sixty-nine organizations have tossed their hats — and their strategies for success — into the ring for the 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest recognition for organizational performance excellence through innovation and improvement. Applicants include two manufacturers, three service companies, two small businesses, eight educational organizations, 40 health care organizations and 14 non-profits/governmental organizations. This marks the sixth consecutive year that there have been 40 or more organizations applying in the health care category.

The 2011 applicants will be evaluated rigorously by an independent board of 553 examiners in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; operations focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results. Examiners provide each applicant with 300 to 1,000 hours of review and a detailed report on the organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement.

This year’s Baldrige Award recipients are expected to be announced in late November 2011.

“If you want sustainability in an organization, and you want to go from ‘great’ to ‘really, really great,’ you’ve got to have some kind of a model … and Baldrige is that model,” says Larry Potterfield, CEO of 2009 Baldrige Award recipient MidwayUSA.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. The award — managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the private sector — promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The award is not given for specific products or services. Since 1988, 86 organizations have received Baldrige Awards.

Thousands of organizations use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to guide their operations, improve performance and get sustainable results. This proven improvement and innovation framework offers organizations an integrated approach to key management areas.

To learn more about starting or advancing your organization’s performance excellence journey, go to and

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