The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is the highest level of recognition of performance excellence in healthcare, manufacturing and education. It was developed in the late 1980s by the Department of Commerce to help improve competitiveness of American companies. The criteria originally focused on manufacturing quality; however, over the years it has evolved into a management system that is applicable to any industry.


The same high performance criteria apply regardless of industry. There currently are six industry segments that can apply for the Baldrige Award: manufacturing, service, health care, education, small business, and non-profit. In recent years, approximately half of the applicants for the Baldrige Award have come from the health care segment.

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the more basic Baldrige Excellence Builder, both developed by the Baldrige National Quality Award Program, help identify evidence-based elements that your organization needs to prioritize and address based on the unique characteristics of your own organization. The Baldrige Excellence Builder is a great, no-cost resource to help begin your performance excellence journey. This provides all employees with clear direction regarding what they should do and how they should do it to take your organization to higher levels of performance.

The Baldrige Excellence Builder helps you begin to understand how well you are accomplishing what is important to your organization:

  • Are your processes consistently effective?
  • Do your approaches address your organization’s needs?
  • How good are your results?
  • Is your organization learning and improving?

Core Values Partners consultants, coaches, and trainers understand the unique needs that organizations have in respect to their operations and culture. A key component of the Baldrige Framework is the Core Values.   This set of Core Values describes the evidence-based key elements of high-performing organizations. Click on the link most appropriate to your organization for more information about the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.


Applying for the Baldrige Award is not about winning the award, it’s about elevating the overall performance of all business segments – manufacturing, service, education, health care, non-profit, and small business.  This elevated performance helps organizations become role models – helping to guide entire industries on how to become top performers. The Baldrige Criteria are dynamic, adjusting to accommodate each industry. They do not dictate action; rather, they guide an organization through a self-assessment of what is important and how those areas of importance are addressed by your organization.

By simply applying for the award, you gain:

  • An outside perspective that identifies strengths and opportunities for improvement by benchmarking your organization against the Criteria based on the characteristics of high-performing organizations.
  • Aligned leadership because the Criteria help create a single shared focus.
  • Heightened focus on organizational priorities as the Criteria offer an integrated management system that aligns goals with performance excellence efforts throughout the organization.

The criteria focus on business results: nearly 50% of Baldrige scoring is based on a balanced set of outcomes. The application and assessment process ensures that those who ultimately win the award are truly role model examples of performance excellence in practice.