Southwest Tennessee Community College

September 9, 2004

For More Information, Contact: Kimberly Stark (901) 333-4023


Since September 11, 2001, the United States has made great strides in improving homeland security. But critical infrastructure facilities and organizations are still at risk. That’s particularly true for both community services, and for private businesses that often function as quasi-public systems – utilities, water supplies, fire and police protection, communications, educational facilities, hospitals, transportation, financial institutions and food distribution, among others; many with overlapping public and private interests.

Because Memphis and the surrounding areas have developed systems vital to the entire country – even the world – it is a potentially preferred target for terrorism. So the question in the private sector now is not whether, but how, to protect critical infrastructures and economic assets.

The answer for both the community and the private sector may be found in Homeland Security: A Comprehensive Organizational Assessment Based on Baldridge Criteria, by Don Fisher, executive director of Mid-South Quality-Productivity Center (MSQPC) in Memphis. It is, essentially, a guide to combating terrorism directed at the private sector.

Fisher, a recognized expert in the quality-productivity field, has applied the Malcolm Baldridge quality criteria to homeland security, devising a manual for assessing needs and implementing measures that take security to a whole new level.

The manual is a step-by-step approach to homeland security, based on proven Malcolm Baldridge Criteria for Performance Excellence. It first lays out the evaluation process as it pertains to every aspect of a business or organization, applying Baldridge core values and concepts. The result is an organizational overview that permits measurement and analysis of organizational performance, and lays the groundwork for developing security measures appropriate to every part of the business. Finally, Fisher provides plans and information for transforming the assessment findings into actionable strategies for a homeland security plan.

The beauty of the manual is its applicability to both small and large businesses and organizations, whether public or private; whether service, manufacturing, distributional, industrial or professional. The criteria are targeted and precise, lending themselves to designated aspects of every kind of business. The manual includes a planning and implementation process that provides appropriate guidance for both public and private organizations and enterprises.

Fisher frequently conducts workshops and seminars based on Baldridge principles, and MSQPC partners with Southwest Tennessee Community College to offer college degree credit in connection with training and workshops. “Community colleges are now becoming a ‘first line of defense’ in training for homeland security needs,” according to Fisher. Partnerships with community colleges to train personnel in homeland security measures is an efficient step in implementing the programs.

“Now, for the first time, the private sector is on the front lines of the battle on terrorism: a target – perhaps even a pathway – for an attack on our nation. It’s a challenge we can’t fail to meet. And, it can have an upside for business, in addition to security,” said Fisher.

Traditionally, security has meant guards, gates and guns. Fisher’s Baldridge manual demonstrates opportunities for new management vision, technologies, risk management tools and workforce training. This raises the potential to achieve, in addition to higher security, positive economic benefits such as new market opportunities, productivity gains, customer confidence and competitive advantage.

In terms of economic returns, Fisher’s book demonstrates that there is no intrinsic reason why raising the bar on security need be fundamentally different from increasing quality. Both ultimately improve the bottom line, in addition to accomplishing their essential goals.

Homeland Security: A Comprehensive Organizational Assessment Based on Baldridge Criteria is published by ASQ Quality Press in soft cover, 8 ˝ x 11 size, approximately 300 pages. It will be available on line at beginning September 11, for guaranteed delivery October 1.