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One proven approach to increasing national productivity and enhancing competitiveness is the establishment of a national quality award program. That was the premise behind the establishment of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, established by an act of US Congress in 1987. Originally a business-oriented framework for manufacturing, service, and small businesses, it was expanded in 1998 to include healthcare and educational organizations and then extended to nonprofit organizations as well. The main objective of the award program, which is given by the US president, is to recognize achievements in quality and performance. The award is not given for specific products or services. Malcolm Baldrige was the US Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until his accidental death in July 1987. He was a proponent of quality management as a key to national prosperity and long-term strength. He took a personal interest in the quality improvement act that was eventually named after him and helped draft one of the early versions. In recognition of Baldrige’s contributions, the US Congress named the award in his honor. The Baldrige performance excellence criteria are a framework that any organization can use to improve overall performance. Seven categories make up the award criteria:

1. Leadership;

2. Strategic planning;

3. Customer and market focus;

4. Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management;

5. Human resource focus;

6. Process management; and

7. Business results.

These seven categories are further subdivided into 19 items, each focusing on a major requirement. The criteria for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award have played a major role in achieving the goals established by the US Congress. They now are accepted widely around the world as a framework for performance excellence. The criteria are designed to help organizations enhance their competitiveness through a continuing improvement process by focusing on two goals: delivering ever-improving value to customers and improving overall organizational performance.

Low-cost automation (LCA) describes a customized production system that bridges the technological frontier through intervention with unique automation in selected points of the production chain. Commonly found in labor-intensive environments in developing countries, it leverages the application of economies of scope and speed. Although a very old approach, LCA remains relevant to countries becoming more industrial based through increased flexibility and cost-efficiency.

The logical framework approach (LFA) is an analytical management tool that can help planners and managers determine the existing situation during project preparation; establish a logical hierarchy of means by which objectives will be reached; identify the potential risks in achieving the objectives and to sustainable outcomes; establish how outputs and outcomes might best be monitored and evaluated; present a summary of the project in a standard format; and monitor and review projects during implementation. It can thus be used for planning many different types of projects. The approach involves problem analysis, stakeholder analysis, developing a hierarchy of objectives, and selecting a preferred implementation strategy. The product of this analytical approach is the logical framework matrix (the logframe), which is usually a one- to two-page document summarizing what the project intends to do and how, what the key assumptions are, and how outputs and outcomes will be monitored and evaluated. The LFA has been adopted by international financing institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and many agencies involved in providing development assistance such as the British DFID, Canada’s CIDA, OECD Expert Group on Aid Evaluation, International Service for National Agricultural Research, Australia’s AusAID, and Germany’s GTZ.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the process of evaluating the effects that a product has on the environment over its entire life. LCA provides objective answers and suggests more sustainable forms of production and consumption. It uses a scientific approach in which the quantification of effects plays a dominant role. A complete LCA is composed of three separate but interrelated components:

・Life cycle inventory is an objective process of identifying and quantifying the environmental loads involved, i.e., the energy and raw materials used and the emissions and waste consequently released (air emissions, liquid effluents, solid waste) throughout the life cycle of a product, process, or activity.

・Life cycle impact analysis is a technical quantitative and/or qualitative process to characterize and assess the effects of the environmental load identified in the inventory component. The assessment should address both ecological and human health considerations as well as such other effects as habitat modification and noise pollution.

・Life cycle improvement analysis is a systematic evaluation of the needs and opportunities to reduce the environmental burden associated with energy and raw material use and environmental releases throughout the whole life cycle of the product, process, or activity. This analysis may include both quantitative measures of improvement such as changes in product, process, and activity design; raw material use; industrial processing; consumer use; and waste management.

See also: Green purchasing

Lean systems involve doing more with less, i.e., less time, inventory, space, labor, and money. The driving force of lean production is the continuing shift from supply-driven markets led by producers to demand-driven markets led by consumers. This has forced businesses to be more flexible to meet the diverse, rapidly changing demands of consumers while remaining competitive. The main source of lean production systems is the Toyota production system (TPS) developed by the Toyota Motor Company after the Second World War. In the 1980s as Western executives began taking note of Toyota’s success, academia also begun studying and writing about the benefits of this seemingly revolutionary production system. Two of these academics were James P. Womack of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Daniel T. Jones of the University of Cardiff in Wales. They are widely credited for coining the term lean manufacturing to describe the TPS to Westerners.
See also: 5S or good housekeeping; Kaizen; Toyota production system


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