Baldrige Education Definition

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" . . . but, it is not 'innovation' . . . unfortunately for Baldrige


The term “innovation” refers to making meaningful change to improve services, programs, processes, or organizational effectiveness and to create new value for stakeholders.

Innovation involves the adoption of an idea, process, technology, or product that is either new or new to its proposed application.

Successful organizational innovation is a multi-step process that involves development and knowledge sharing, a decision to implement, implementation, evaluation, and learning. Although innovation is often associated with health care research and technological innovation, it is applicable to all key organizational processes that would benefit from change, whether through breakthrough improvement or change in approach or outputs. It could include fundamental changes in the organizational structure or business model to more effectively accomplish the organization’s work, critical pathways and practice guidelines, facility design, the administration of medications, the organization of work, or alternative therapies.

Note: Blue words above are hyperlinks to other Glossary terms.


2013 Baldrige Glossary 'Innovation' Improvement Suggestion

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" . . . but, it is not 'innovation' . . . unfortunately for the Baldrige Glossary

  • Eliminate the words "Innovation involves the adoption of . . ." from the definition for Innovation to ensure a focus on new and not copied improvement.

    Why? The word innovation comes from Latin word ‘nova’ which means new. The Baldrige definition for innovation is based on the action verb “adopt” which does not have the same meaning as new. Adopting something that is not new and defining it as innovation because it is new to the adopting organization does not make something that is already used . . . ‘new’. For example, one Baldrige winner adopted a process that had been used previously for more than fifty years and presented this in their application and in post-award presentations as innovation . . . not good. However, I suppose that one could salvage some face-saving value by arguing that at least this was an innovative application of an old process. But, that is not simply not good enough for a role model winner. The point is not that the organization should be faulted. Rather, the Baldrige definition is the enabler of this degradation.

    From another perspective, it is difficult to imagine how the 2012 ‘adopt’-based definition for ‘innovation’ differs from the Baldrige Glossary definition for ‘benchmarking’.

    Most importantly, allowing imitation to be credited as innovation adversely affects the competitiveness improvement rate of organizations using the Criteria.



Thank you for using the only truly integrated Baldrige Education Glossary available anywhere.  Paul Steel

Baldrige Excellence Resources

Great news: You can now download an MS Word version of the Baldrige Criteria


 Quality Gurus 1

Classic 'Quality Gurus Summit' photo (Click on photo for larger version)

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Baldrige Profit versus Nonprofit Applicants

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See: "What needs to be done: User-identified Criteria issues and improvement suggestions for 2013"