Boeing Frontiers
November 2003
Volume 02, Issue 07
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Cover Story

Aerospace Support’s journey to excellence

To be the best, you must know where you stand. That's why in the Aerospace Support journey to business excellence, the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems business unit has turned toward the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award program.

For years, pursuit of this award has helped companies nationwide achieve top results in terms of financial return, market share, customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. The program leads organizations through self-evaluations, focusing them on continuous improvement.

Organizations deemed national role models receive the prestigious Baldrige award, presented each year by the President of the United States. The U.S. Commerce Department National Institute of Standards and Technology sponsors the award. The U.S. Congress established the award in 1987 to enhance U.S. competitiveness by promoting quality awareness, recognizing quality achievements of U.S. companies, and publicizing successful performance strategies.

Aerospace Support submitted its Baldrige application in May and in doing so reached a milestone in a journey that began several years ago.

With its eye on becoming a premier company and a world-class provider of sustainment solutions, Aerospace Support created a Business Excellence organization in 2000.

Since then, Aerospace Support has developed a business model based on the seven Baldrige criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; human resource focus; process management; and business results. The model guides Aerospace Support people in everything they do to ensure well-defined, common processes and continuous improvement.

To measure its progress, Aerospace Support conducted an internal assessment and received feedback from examiners last year. Also, each of the organization's major sites applied for state quality awards. Sites in Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, California, Mississippi, Florida, Oklahoma and Australia won awards. More importantly, Aerospace Support received feedback on how to improve the business.

"While we certainly appreciate the recognition, ultimately we are not out to win awards," said David Spong, president of Aerospace Support. "Our goal is to win in the marketplace by improving all areas of our business and exceeding the expectations of our shareholders. We're focused on world-class performance and business results."

Following this year's application for the award, Aerospace Support is seeing the results of its improvements. The organization received a site visit from a panel of Baldrige examiners in late October, an honor granted to only 13 of this year's 68 applicants.

Examiners use the site visit to select award winners. They talk with people throughout the organization to verify information in the application and learn more about the business. The 2003 Baldrige winners will be announced later this month. Whether or not Aerospace Support wins the award, the group will receive valuable feedback from the examiners.

"We've made a promise to our stakeholders: excellence every day," Spong said. "By applying for Baldrige, we're testing ourselves to see how well we're living up to this promise. We're comparing our efforts against the world's best, in order to identify and reinforce our strengths, focus on opportunities for improvement and accelerate our journey to excellence."

—Elaine Marcellino

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