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The Official Baldrige Blog

Focus on the 2015 Judges' Panel: Dr. Mike Sather

Dr. Mike R. Sather, a third-year judge Director Emeritus, Cooperative Studies Program Department of Veterans Affairs, Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center

Dr. Mike R. Sather, a third-year judge Director Emeritus, Cooperative Studies Program Department of Veterans Affairs, Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center

Who are the folks who judge applications for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award? In an ongoing blog series, we have been interviewing members of the 2015 Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. In the interviews, they share their insights and perspectives on the award process, on their experiences, and on the Baldrige framework and approach to organizational improvement.

What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?

  • Past member of Quality New Mexico’s Board of Directors
  • Past member of Quality New Mexico’s Panel of Judges
  • 2003 ISO 9001 Registration (Quality Management System)
  • 2004 Recipient of the VA’s Robert W. Carey Award for Organizational Excellence
  • 2004 Recipient of Quality New Mexico’s ZIA Performance Excellence Award
  • 2009 ISO 15378 Certificate of Conformance (Packaging of Pharmaceuticals)
  • 2009 Highest-Ranking Officer of Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center, Recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  • 2013 ISO 21500 Certificate of Conformance (Project Management)
  • 2013 inquiry by Dr. Harry Hertz as to my willingness to serve on the Baldrige Panel of Judges

You have a great deal of experience in the nonprofit sector. How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework as valuable to organizations in that sector?

The Baldrige framework is a holistic foundation for all quality management systems. Medically, we treat patients in a whole-person fashion (physical, emotional, and spiritual), which is often referred to as a holistic approach to the practice of medicine—it’s seeking optimal health and wellness (i.e., the wellbeing of the person). It is only common sense then that we apply this same principle to managing a nonprofit organization or any organization. Organizations are made up of many different types of people and components with missions and visions, and it is reasonable to believe that taking a holistic approach to managing an organization will enhance its ability to fulfill its mission and move closer to accomplishing its vision. That holistic approach to management is inherent in the Baldrige framework and its Criteria.

How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts to your own work experience/employer?

The Baldrige framework is being used in our organization as the primary framework by which all other quality management systems (ISO, OPM3, Lean) are being integrated to create a Total Performance Excellence System (TIPES) or Quality Hierarchy (The True North), while exploiting the core strengths of our organization.

As a judge, what are your hopes for the judging process? Or, in other words, as a judge, what would you like to tell applicants and potential applicants about the rigor of the process?

Baldrige training for examiners, offered each year, is exceptional. The rotational group approach to teaching these Criteria/principles offers much in the way of interaction, meaningful discussion, and group learning. The Baldrige Criteria are always in a two-year cycle of continuous improvement that ensures their relevancy to the real-world environment.

The Independent Review and Consensus Review processes require numerous hours of review and discussion on an application, leading to a feedback report that is specific to your organization.

If you as an applicant are fortunate to receive a site visit from the Baldrige Program examiner team assigned to your application, your organization will receive the benefit of many hours of additional review, discussion, and consensus, making the feedback even more meaningful to you as an organization.

The judging process adds even more rigor to the reviewing process. A lead judge is assigned to your application and receives comments from each of the other judges on your application. The lead judge makes a presentation of your application during the closed all-judges meeting; an intense discussion of your application then occurs with the examiner team leader (via teleconference to answer specific questions only) to determine whether or not you will be recommended as an award recipient.

The entire Baldrige review process (i.e., Independent Review, Consensus Review, Site Visit Review, and judging processes) offers a rigor and robustness that ensures the "deservingness" of each recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

What encouragement/advice would you give examiners who are reviewing award applications now?

Your all-encompassing work in evaluating compliance with the Criteria and attention to detail is extremely important to the judging process. Making a rigorous effort to understand the workings of an organization in relation to the Criteria is principal to a meaningful and successful review process for the applicant.

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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