Luis Calingo is a longtime Baldrige examiner who has led universities in both the United States and Asia. Dr. Calingo has participated regularly over two decades in the Baldrige Award process to help U.S. organizations improve their performance for long-term success. He also has lent his Baldrige examiner expertise to support international excellence programs that are based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework, including those in the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. “The Baldrige framework is borderless!” Calingo observed recently.
Calingo is currently completing the third year of a five-year presidency at Holy Angel University, located in the Philippines. He has proudly reported that his university adopted the Baldrige Excellence Framework, including the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence, “as our roadmap to quality and excellence.” Under his leadership, the university participated in the tiered, Baldrige-based Philippine Quality Award (PQA) process in 2016. Through the process, Calingo’s university earned recognition for proficiency in quality management—the only applicant so honored that year. A news release described the national award as follows:
Known as the gold standard for quality and business excellence, the Philippine Quality Award honors the exemplary efforts of organizations in both the private and public sectors in the pursuit of world-class performance excellence. The President of the Philippines presents the Award annually to Philippine organizations. … It is equivalent to the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the United States and other National Quality Awards worldwide.
To share Calingo’s insights on his extensive experiences using the Baldrige framework to support excellence in higher education, I recently interviewed him, as follows.
Would you please describe how you first became interested in becoming a Baldrige examiner?
I first heard about the Baldrige Award in 1991 when the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)—the main business accreditation body at that time—adopted Total Quality Management as the theme of its conferences. A subsequent consultancy engagement that required me to perform a comprehensive organizational diagnosis of a school district led me to the Baldrige Award’s Criteria for Performance Excellence [part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework]. A couple of years later, I accepted a professorial appointment at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, during which time I served on the technical working group for Singapore’s National Quality Strategy and as an assessor (examiner) for the newly launched Singapore Quality Award. Upon my return to the United States, I applied for and received my first assignment as Baldrige examiner in 1997.
What were your impressions and highlights of your first Baldrige examiner training class (the Examiner Preparation Course), and what have been highlights for you of annual examiner training in subsequent years?
I recall being intimidated by the prework instructions, which required us to prepare a complete Independent Review Scorebook, using as our only guide the sample “Model Scorebook” from a prior year’s case study. At that time, the only evaluation dimensions we learned were Approach/Deployment/Results. [The dimensions today encompass Approach/Deployment/Learning/Integration for evaluating processes and Levels/Trends/Comparisons/Integration for evaluating results.]
During the training itself, I immediately felt I was in the company of really bright and insightful folks who had also been very helpful to “newbies” like me. The succeeding years of examiner training saw many demonstrations of continuous improvement, with emphases seemingly rotating among understanding the Criteria and Scoring Guidelines, emphasizing the role of key factors, going back and forth in emphasis between scoring by dimensions and scoring holistically, and achieving some standardization in item evaluation (ergo, the six-step process). The Baldrige Program has practiced what it has preached.
Would you please share some memorable learning experiences you’ve had as an examiner on evaluation teams during the Baldrige Award process?
The most memorable learning experience I’ve had as an examiner has been serving as a mentor to new examiners or an internal coach to new team leaders [for the Consensus Review phase of the award process]. The lesson I learned is that my effectiveness as a mentor or as a coach is not determined so much by my ability to answer the newbie’s questions as by my ability to bring out the best in each examiner and cultivate the inquisitive nature of the examiner by having him or her ask the “right” questions.
How do your family members and colleagues view your service as a Baldrige examiner?
Naturally, my family has viewed my service as a Baldrige examiner as a major time commitment, and I am truly grateful to them for their support and understanding. At the same time, my family and my colleagues view my participation as a Baldrige examiner as an important form of national service, which helps bring organizations to higher levels of competitiveness, distinctiveness, and excellence. I extended my Baldrige outreach when the Asian Productivity Organization sent me as a technical expert to help seven of its member countries establish their own Baldrige-based national quality award programs.
How have you applied learning from your service as a Baldrige examiner in your leadership positions in colleges in the United States and the Philippines?
Knowledge of good practices from Baldrige Award-winning organizations, particularly education organizations, has added to my repertoire of approaches for both “running the business” and “changing the business” of higher education institutions both in the United States and the Philippines. In fact, I have led a business school and a university to participate in Baldrige-based quality award programs, resulting in appropriate recognition and the organization-wide motivation that such recognition created. Articulating a leadership system, anticipating blind spots in strategic planning, and designing a comprehensive performance management system are competencies that I would not have acquired were it not for my service as a Baldrige examiner.
What is your view of the value of the Baldrige framework to postsecondary education organizations?
Higher education institutions have long valued quality assurance. Whenever they speak of external quality assurance, they often refer to the voluntary peer-review-based accreditation processes performed by regional institutional accreditors (e.g., WASC) and specialized program accreditors (e.g., AACSB). The Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence, whether applied at the whole institutional or college levels, provides the organization with a comprehensive approach involving multiple stakeholders to prepare for those accreditation reviews.
I foresee greater alignment between the Baldrige education framework and the organizational standards for accreditation of higher education institutions and programs. Such a system already exists in Thailand, where colleges and universities voluntarily participate in a government-sponsored, voluntary, Baldrige-based self-assessment program called EdPEx 200. EdPEx 200 participants that achieve a certain score, validated after a site visit review, would be exempted from annual government reporting requirements for a predetermined period.
The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.