Sunday, February 16, 2020

Baldrige in Education: A Healthy Mix

The education system in this country needs overhauling.  Tuition rates are skyrocketing and textbook costs continue on the rise, but are curricula being modified as rapidly as they need to be?  Specifically, MBAs: to accurately reflect the needs of the ever-changing business world, are business schools keeping up?  Well, as it turns out, some are.

Post University in Waterbury, CT recently announced the renaming of their business school to The Malcolm Baldrige School of Business, in a culmination of “a great deal of effort in identifying someone whose legacy embodies the quality, goal, and mission of our school. We knew there was no better name to attach to our School of Business than Malcolm Baldrige,” a Post University blog reads.  Post is right down the road from our headquarters in Southbury, CT, with Mac’s hometown of Woodbury being sandwiched between the two towns.  Waterbury, of course, is home to the Scovill plant where Baldrige spent his early career, leading the transformation of a struggling brass mill into a highly diversified manufacturer of consumer housing and industrial goods.  To honor those principles, Post has implemented a number of new courses that clearly draw directly from the criteria that frame the award as we know it today.  For example:

  1. BUS505: Organizational Innovation and Creativity covers how to create and innovate in an organization, and why you should always challenge the status quo.
  2. BUS508: Leadership and Management II focuses on understanding your leadership style, ethical leadership, and transformational leadership, with emphasis on continuous improvement, creativity, innovation.
  3. BUS300: Total Quality Management addresses strategic business concepts and modern tools for managing quality and leading to create a quality-focused organization.

The concept here is that students are being educated on the same criteria that businesses are being evaluated against, when striving to become world-class.  Seems simple enough; what are some other schools that have caught on to this idea?

Tennessee Tech University takes the Baldrige criteria a step further and requires exiting MBA students to take a class called Business Research.  This class requires students to meet and consult with managers of real companies to create organizational profiles, directly based off the Baldrige criteria.  Through learning and applying the organizational analysis process, contextual learning takes place.  One student reflected, “Business Research turned out to be more difficult than the syllabus indicated, but the project built confidence that will carry over into our futures.”  Local businesses benefit by improving their business processes.  The University benefits by graduating competent and confident business professionals.  The general business community benefits by gaining access to free professional services.

Are there any other colleges or universities that you know of that highlight Baldrige criteria within their curriculum?  Write to us, and tell us your thoughts!


Editor’s note: Malcolm Baldrige’s wife, Margaret, still lives in the original white farmhouse that sits on a rolling hill within the 130-acre family farm in Woodbury, CT.  Half of the property is a horse farm, divided by a road, which is leased out to the couple that living across the street from the Baldrige home.  Through a strange series of coincidences, after boarding my horse at the farm for three months, I just discovered over the weekend that it is Baldrige property.  It’s a small world we live in.  Margaret (Midge) still lives across the street in her home, and though she is in her 90s and receives daily care, it is great to hear the occasional personal story from a Woodbury local that knew the Baldriges well.  Have a quality day!

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