Did you ever wonder who are the folks who judge applications for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award? What in their background brought them to this high honor, and what advice they may have for Baldrige Award applicants, potential applicants, and examiners? For an ongoing series of profiles, we have been interviewing members of the 2015 Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to share individuals’ insights and perspectives on the award process, their experiences, and the Baldrige framework and approach to organizational improvement in general.
The primary role of the Judges’ Panel is to ensure the integrity of the Baldrige Award selection process. Based on a review of results of examiners’ scoring of written applications (the Independent and Consensus Review processes), judges vote on which applicants merit Site Visit Review (the third and final examination stage) to verify and clarify their excellent performance in all seven categories of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. The judges also review reports from site visit to recommend to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce which organizations to name as U.S. role models—Baldrige Award recipients. No judge participates in any discussion of an organization for which he/she has a real or perceived conflict of interest. Judges serve for a period of three years.
Following is the interview of Greg Gibson, Ed.D., superintendent of Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District in Texas.
What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?
I have had the honor, pleasure, and challenge of serving as an examiner, team leader, coach, and board member for Quality Texas Foundation. Most recently, I am working with local community leaders in creating a partnership in leadership development through the use of the Baldrige framework lens. We intend for this to become a model for our state and possibly the nation.
You have a great deal of experience in the education sector. How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework as valuable to educational organizations?
The education sector is being inundated with “improvement initiatives” from state and federal government. The reality is that excellence will only come from intrinsic motivation and never extrinsic motivation.
The Baldrige framework has laid out a roadmap for excellence for education organizations, without being overly prescriptive. By deeply deploying the core values and principles of the Baldrige framework, “top-down” initiatives become less and less necessary, and excellence becomes more and more probable.
How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts to your current work experience/employer?
Many of our senior leaders serve as state examiners. All senior leaders receive annual training in Baldrige core values, especially systems perspective, visionary leadership, and management by fact. We are working to counter any negative perception of government and education by demonstrating that excellence can and does exist in government/public education.
I am honored and humbled to serve as leader of an organization and a member of a community that has a persistent disquiet with the status quo.
As a judge, what are your hopes for the judging process? In other words, as a judge what would you like to tell applicants and potential Baldrige Award applicants about the rigor of the process?
Every year, I am in awe of the organizations’ applicants from across our nation that excel at performance excellence through the Baldrige framework. Sometimes, when I watch the news and get frustrated at the negative, I will flip over to the NIST website and read about Baldrige Award applicants and winners. It restores my faith in our country every time. This process is rigorous, but the example that you are setting (as an applicant) for the rest of the country cannot be overstated.
What encouragement/advice would you give Baldrige examiners who are evaluating award applicants (preparing for upcoming site visits) now?
The backbone of the Baldrige process is the volunteer examiner. We all owe a debt of gratitude to our examiners. I know this process is stringent and arduous, and I also know that there must be times when you wonder “why am I doing this?”
Let me assure you that you are making this country stronger one applicant at a time. I stand in awe of your efforts.