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Book Review: Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way by Kendall and Bodinson

Book Review: Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way by Kendall and Bodinson

Book Review: Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way by Kendall and Bodinson

Malcolm Baldrige was the United States Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until 1987 and a strong advocate in the domain of quality management for industrial productivity. His contributions were so effective that an award system was set up in his name and a leadership framework developed that reflects his values and successes.


Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way: How World-Class Leaders Align Their Organizations to Deliver Exceptional Results reflects the key elements of this framework and offers the reader a road map to develop and organisation that is capable of delivering exceptional results.
Well presented and logical, the book explains in simple terms, why and how to improve an organisation’s culture, increase employee engagement and develop senior leadership to boost operational and financial performance.

The book is, in most parts, about the Baldrige Framework and focuses upon the 3 elements:

  • Criteria for Performance Excellence
  • Core Values and Concepts
  • Guidelines for responding to the criteria

The Criteria for Performance Excellence are:

  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Customers
  • Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management
  • Workforce
  • Operations
  • Results

Each represents a dimension that needs to be considered, not in isolation but as part of an holistic set of areas for improvement.

The Core Values are:

  • Systems perspective
  • Visionary leadership
  • Customer-focused excellence
  • Valuing people
  • Organisational learning and agility
  • Focus on success
  • Managing for innovation
  • Management by fact
  • Societal responsibility
  • Ethics and transparency
  • Delivering value and results

The book explores these elements and reviews how these aspects can be used to improve organisational performance.

3 key themes are drawn out very clearly:

Employee Engagement – It is very clear from a variety of studies that there is a clear correlation between increasing employee engagement and increasing performance. This offers organisations a clear insight into how to improve engagement.

Leadership – Leaders need to develop and communicate a compelling vision. Next, there needs to be a culture of transparency and trust in which the team and operate.

Execution – Nothing happens without solid execution and the Baldrige approach encourages organisations to put structures in place to support actions and obstacles to delivery performance. This includes the provision of authority and accountability to those that are willing and able to execute and deliver on the aggressive targets being set.
Perhaps some of the greatest value in the book comes from the later chapters. Chapter 16, in particular, offers a roadmap of activities that will allow you to accelerate excellence. Appendix A also offers a selection of additional resources that are helpful for performance improvement.

Overall Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way offers some great guidance and advice for performance improvement and joins works by W Edwards Deming and Tom Peters in guiding leaders towards excellence.

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