CONNECTICUT QUALITY IMPROVEMENT AWARD
Since beginning in 1986 as America’s first state level quality award using the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Performance Excellence criteria, the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership’s mission has been to improve the economic vitality of the State of Connecticut and its manufacturers, service companies, health care and educational institutions as well as its not for profit organizations.
In 1987, the first year of the national Baldrige Award program, Connecticut had the largest number of applicants completing the 80-page application. Sadly, not one of the seven Connecticut manufacturers or service companies received a site visit. A few of the seven tried again the next year. They received excellent feedback from Baldrige national examiners but no site visit and no winner from Connecticut. Since the Baldrige office keeps the names of applicants confidential, we don’t know how many Connecticut organizations applied from 1989 until 1994 when Hamilton Standard, a division of United Technologies, applied and received a site visit from Baldrige national examiners. Their application written mostly by experienced Baldrige-trained CQIA examiners was beautiful. The words flowed and the quality concepts were thorough and inspirational. Here was Connecticut’s finest but apparently not yet fine enough to receive a 1994 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Performance Excellence.
Then in 1995 during a Baldrige case study training session hosted by Ulbrich Stainless Steel and Special Metals and led by an experienced CQIA examiner, Bernie Deutsch, from People’s Bank, a young woman from Hyperion Software stood up and said, “This Baldrige is too (expletives deleted) tough. For organizations to survive in the ‘90s they must be innovative and what we need is a one-page Innovation Award.” The class cheered.
CQIA’s direction and fortune changed. In 1995, we received 139 Connecticut Innovation Prize applications. A few years later Connecticut Innovations copyrighted the name and we became CQIA Innovation Prize.
Since 1995, 542 organizations have submitted one-page CQIA Innovation Prize applications from 104 Connecticut cities and towns and 15 State agencies. Some organizations like TRUMPF Inc., Yardney Technical Products, Basement Systems, Inc., ATMI, Metal, Hyperion Software, Peoples Bank and Cartus, Inc. submit one or more applications every year from the first time they learned about us. Other companies like ATMI apply only when they believe they have a platinum winner: three applications, two platinum winners. In addition, CQIA has had 65 sponsors from 1995 to 2010 with many remaining sponsors from the first year they worked with CQIA.
The Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership, Inc. is now accepting applications for Step One and Step Two of the “Five Steps to the Baldrige. An Intent to Apply is not necessary for the CQIA Innovation Prize or Organizational Profile.