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Wide-Ranging Expertise Enhanced by 2013 Baldrige Training

May 22, 2013

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Graduating from the three-day Baldrige Examiner Preparation course, 482 Baldrige examiners and special visitors now find themselves among an elite group—trained evaluators (1) to help organizations from every sector of the U.S. economy improve and (2) to identify world-class role models and best practices.

The members of the 2013 Board of Examiners, who were competitively selected through an application process in the fall of 2012, will now complete assignments in support of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and Baldrige Collaborative Assessment. They’ll use their Baldrige examiner training to assess organizations across the seven categories of the 2013–2014 Criteria for Performance Excellence (Leadership; Strategic Planning; Customer Focus; Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management; Workforce Focus; Operations Focus; and Results), with special attention to highlighting strengths and opportunities to help organizations improve.

Baldrige examiner training consisted of three days (with a fourth day of specialized preparation for veteran and new examiners) of peer-learning using a case study about a fictitious applicant for the Baldrige Award. In 2013, the case study features a small manufacturing business in the electronics industry; key factors in the company’s operation include a recent business model change that will bring back U.S.-based jobs, growth in its contract research and development services, and a focus on environmentally friendly ("sustainable") manufacturing. With experienced Baldrige facilitators leading classrooms, the examiners and visitors used the case study to explore the evaluation factors of approach, deployment, learning, and integration; to practice writing actionable feedback; and to analyze results data. The training in 2013 also had a special focus on enhanced and new concepts in the 2013–2014 Criteria: innovation, social media, and work systems.

The training aligns with the mission of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST]) to improve the competitiveness and performance of organizations in every sector—helping them to deliver ever-improving value to their customers, improve their overall effectiveness, and ensure their sustainability.

An added bonus to the training is that Baldrige examiner training graduates bring improvements to their own organizations. For example,

Before the training, I thought that I knew what [my organization] needed to change in order to be "world class." . . . I now see not only what we need to do in order to achieve "world-class" status, but what steps we will have to take to maintain that position and to make it repeatable as we expand into new markets. Baldrige is like the Hubble telescope of excellence, it gives you the tools and the training to see the things that you cannot see with the naked eye. It shows you those hidden nuggets.—Eric Knaak, Vice President of Operations, Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning

I plan to use what I learned in the examiner training to improve my own responses when I serve as an examiner for the Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA). . . that is modeled after the Baldrige Award. . . . More importantly, as an instructor for new examiners, I will try to emphasize the importance of well-developed strength and opportunity for improvement statements throughout our award process . . . [so that our] examiners develop actionable statements that [an] organization [can] use for improvement. —Liz Jennison, Examiner and Judge, CHAA, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

The experience not only improved my analytical and consensus-building skills but also allowed me to interact with a diverse group of individuals from across the globe. . . . Advancing the performance of U.S. companies is critical to increasing America’s competitive edge in the global marketplace, and my own organization is already benefitting from my new skills. Not only have I begun to provide feedback in the format of strengths and OFIs, but I am working with my team to improve our processes related to workforce management and customer satisfaction, while ensuring we focus on those results most critical to quality. –Jodie Beckley, SVP Alternate Education and School Improvement Solutions, EdisonLearning

The 2013 examiners’ expertise, self-identified using the Census Bureau’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICs), comes from hospitals and ambulatory health care services; companies and enterprises; colleges, universities, professional schools, and business schools; and government organizations; as well as from all types of manufacturing operations; nursing and residential care facilities; elementary and secondary schools; forestry and logging operations; and even a shellfish fishing business; among many other areas of expertise. Participants in training represented 49 states, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The names, states, and organizations of the current Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners are now listed on the Baldrige Web site; organizations represented include the American Medical Directors Association, The Boeing Company, Caterpillar, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Duke Cancer Institute, Eaton Corporation, Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Harvard University Health Services, Hewlett-Packard Company, Honeywell International, Humana, Independent Bankers Association of Texas, J.D. Power and Associates, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Oakland Community College, Pinellas County Schools, U.S. Marine Corps., Veterans Health Administration, and Video Gaming Technologies, Inc.

For the second year, training was made available to visitors who paid tuition for the Baldrige Examiner Training Experience—learning alongside the Baldrige examiners but not being required to complete examiner assignments after training and therefore not given access to the proprietary data of Baldrige Award applicants. Twenty-eight U.S. visitors and nine international visitors took advantage of the opportunity; among the international visitors were professionals representing the Phillippines Department of Trade and Industry, the Indonesian Quality Award Foundation, and the Tata Group headquartered in India.

In 2012, the Baldrige Program’s training offerings ranked 8th in Leadership Excellence's Leadership 500 (military/government category), just below the training for the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy West Point, and FBI Academy.