On March 3, 1988, the Judges Panel for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award® was approved to “ensure the integrity of the award selection process.” The nine‐member panel included a “balanced representation from industries which are working to improve the quality of U.S. manufactured goods and services.” The first Panel of Judges was comprised of James K. Bakken of Ford World Headquarters; William Eggleston of IBM; Richard Freund of Quality Planning Services; A. Blanton Godfrey of the Juran Institute, Inc.; William Golomski of W. A. Golomski & Associates; Brian Joiner of Joiner Associates, Inc.; David Luther of Corning Glass Works; Frank Pipp of Xerox Corporation; and Kent Sterett of FPL.
In late May 1988, training for the first examiners, which included 102 examiners and 21 senior examiners, included a criteria item analysis to set a “philosophical standard for each item (what the item is aimed at), what examiners will look for, and what the feedback should attempt to address,” according to an internal memo. (Such item analyses would eventually become the Category and Item Descriptions in the current Criteria.) The goal was to give the examiners “ownership” of the evaluation process and be able to “tap into some of the energy available in the private sector,” Reimann said. A case study (i.e., a fictitious application) was prepared for the training, and some examiners conducted a pilot site visit to test their processes. In an internal memo from February 1988, Reimann wrote, “I believe that harmonization of scoring and feedback is the most important and difficult matter.” The examiner training and case study were intended to enable this.
One concept new to a technical organization like NBS was cross‐sector teamwork among examiners. At NBS, Reimann said, much of his experience with professional development consisted of scientists and engineers working with other scientists and engineers. But the NBS staff had to manage the process differently because putting examiners from similar companies together might lead to conflicts of interest: (1) with competing organizations potentially evaluating each other and (2) with organizations competing with each other to be selected under the two‐per‐category rule. However, Reimann said staff knew that building cross‐sector teams of examiners with people having very different professional backgrounds and work experiences could lead to an immense amount of knowledge and sharing. Having never tried this approach, we had no idea if it would work, he added. Similarly, we had no idea whether examiners and others who were being asked to contribute so much time would come back year after year and not only stay engaged but be willing to share knowledge with peers, Reimann said. The success of Baldrige’s public‐private partnership owes much to the tremendous commitments and skills of the thousands of examiners who have given millions of hours to Baldrige—the national program and the state, local, and sector programs.