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The Official Baldrige Blog

Focus on the 2015 Judges' Panel: Judge Michael Dockery

Michael L. Dockery, a second-year judge Senior Manager, Memphis World Hub FedEx Express Corporation

Michael L. Dockery, a second-year judge Senior Manager, Memphis World Hub FedEx Express Corporation

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 might they have for Baldrige Award applicants, potential applicants, and examiners?

In an ongoing series in this Baldrige Program blog, we will be interviewing members of the Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to share individual members’ 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.

What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige Judge?

I began volunteering on the national Board of Examiners in 2008. My experiences included serving as category lead on several examiner teams; serving as senior examiner and/or team lead for four years; and participating on three site visit teams, including site visit team lead in 2012.

During my role as team lead, I received valuable training, coaching, and mentoring from fellow examiners and Baldrige staff throughout the process. The site visit experiences afforded me an opportunity to demonstrate analytical, team building, and leadership skills required to meet the process deliverables for all stakeholders.

The developmental programs and knowledge sharing within the Baldrige community also gave me the confidence to take on the responsibility of Baldrige judge once the vetting process was completed.

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

With an ongoing focus on service quality and marketplace competitiveness, I picture the Baldrige Excellence Framework being beneficial to organizations in the service sector and all sectors that are interested in focusing on the future while meeting current customer demands.

I feel that it is important that service organizations invest in a framework that will allow them to respond or adapt rapidly to changing demands, as well as to other challenges in the global market.

As the Baldrige framework is refined or updated, it continues to create value that can transform organizations by offering criteria that helps with marketplace competitiveness, an approach to performance excellence, cultural change, and innovation.

In addition, the emphasis on a systematic, disciplined approach to process improvement may give organizations confidence to engage in intelligent risk-taking, enhance the strategic planning process, and identify measures for detecting potential blind spots.

I am confident that the evolution of the Baldrige Excellence Framework, once fully deployed in the service sector, will be able to connect people, processes, and technology seamlessly for long-term value.

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

I regularly deploy all areas of the Criteria to process improvement initiatives and daily operations. When assessing process improvement opportunities, I take a holistic viewpoint and systems approach to evaluating how new processes may be implemented and the impact these processes could potentially have on the customer experience.

The framework helps me to effectively manage multiple projects or tasks while addressing new, changing requirements by internal and external customers.  I have deployed the framework to all organizations I have led since being introduced to the Criteria and share key concepts with organizational employees during staff meetings and management development sessions. As a result, there are systematic, repeated approaches that translate into a culture of innovation, safety, and service excellence, which are core values for the company.

By integrating the framework with the company’s quality programs and Lean processes, the leadership team and employees are able to implement or sustain core processes that deliver positive outcomes.  The framework also helps me create an environment of organizational learning and knowledge transfer, by involving all levels of the organization in the improvement process.

The process dimensions of approach, deployment, learning, and integration are evident in the organizations I lead, and many of the Baldrige core values, such a visionary leadership, valuing people, and management by fact, are also commonplace.

The framework has been instrumental in the company’s ability to refine processes, lead organizations through difficult challenges, and improve business results.

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?

I have a genuine appreciation for previous members who served on the Panel of Judges and the time commitment that is required to participate in the judging process.   Obviously, the focus is on providing outstanding customer service, remaining committed to the process, and identifying role-model organizations that have demonstrated best practices and proven processes that can be benchmarked across the industry.

The applicants (former, current, and future) can feel confident that all panel members demonstrate a passion, commitment, and desire to protect the integrity of the process and provide all applicants the highest level of service required to deliver the expected value.

The Baldrige staff and other stakeholders work extremely hard to ensure that a consistent process is executed to determine which organizations receive consideration for site visits. The same approach, rigor, and ethical standards are utilized by the judges’ panel to identify organizations with role-model best practices and to determine sector award winners.

All members appointed to the Panel of Judges provide expert, diverse sector knowledge that is beneficial when evaluating the many processes that various organizations deploy that lead to positive performance results and outcomes.

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

I would like to encourage all examiners to do their best, trust the process, and have fun. The experience provides a great opportunity for skill development, teamwork, mentorship, and systematic execution of core processes. I am excited to see the ongoing collaboration and willingness by experienced examiners to onboard new talent into the Baldrige community.

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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