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The Official Baldrige Blog

Focus on the 2018 Judges’ Panel: Dee Springer

Judges Panel Dee Springer with photo in background of people meeting at a table.
Judges Panel Blog Series

In this judges panel blog series, we have been 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 performance in all seven Criteria categories of the Baldrige Excellence Framework. 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.

Meet Baldrige Judge Dee Springer

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?

Diane Springer Baldrige Judges Panel photo

Diane (Dee) Springer
Director (Retired)
Eaton Business Excellence Assessment program (EBEA)
Eaton Corporation

EBEA is designed to help Eaton Corporation’s businesses implement and drive continuous improvement across the organization.


What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?  

I have been involved in “Baldrige” since the mid-1990s. My first exposure was as an examiner for Eaton’s internal Baldrige-based assessment process, and being exposed to the Baldrige Criteria, gave me a thirst for more knowledge. I continued Baldrige-based work within Eaton but also reached out and was accepted as an examiner for the Baldrige-based Washington State Quality Award. During the next five years, I served as a state examiner, senior examiner, and then judge. At the encouragement of my Eaton supervisor Roger Triplett, who also served as a Baldrige judge, I applied in 2001 to become a national Baldrige examiner. Being a Baldrige examiner and then a team leader exposed me to a broad variety of excellent organizations. The more you learn the more you want to learn. I believe these experiences have led me to become a Baldrige judge—years of experience, exposure, and a thirst for continuous learning.

How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework as valuable to organizations in your sector/industry?

Eaton has placed a high value on the Baldrige Excellence Framework and used it as the basis for its internal program. I became part of the department responsible for the EBE (Eaton Business Excellence) program in 2003. In 2018, I retired from Eaton still working for EBE. Through hundreds of internal assessments during that time, best practices were shared, knowledge was transferred from site to site through internal examiners, and Eaton has continued to feel that the program is a competitive advantage.

How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts to your current experience?  

In addition to my work with the EBE, I am currently a member of the board of directors for PENW (Performance Excellence Northwest), which oversees the Washington, Idaho, and Oregon regional state Baldrige-based programs. I am responsible for examiner training within those states and base the training on the national examiner trainings provided by the Baldrige Program.

As a judge, what would you like to tell current and potential Baldrige Award applicants about the process?  

The judging process is extremely rigorous. A tremendous amount of time (well over 100 hours) is spent by each judge in reviewing information regarding the applicants that are chosen for site visit. Twelve judges ensure that multiple viewpoints and perspectives are used to evaluate, and each applicant receives a fair, thorough, and knowledgeable assessment.

What encouragement/advice would you give Baldrige examiners for their work in evaluating organizations as part of the Baldrige Award process?  

The quality of examiners’ work is critical in providing fair, actionable, prioritized feedback to both the judges and the applicants. The judges depend on examiners to be our eyes and ears on-site. Examiners’ jobs start with Independent and Consensus Reviews of all applications. Each examiner’s input is important for providing feedback to the applicant to help it learn—no matter if it is chosen to receive a site visit or not. For those applicants that receive site visits, examiners are the eyes and ears for the judges. Through documentation and a team leader presentation, examiners explain the differences from their impressions on reading and analyzing the application to seeing, reviewing, and interviewing the applicant organization’s documents and workforce on-site to understand the depth of processes, deployment, learning, and integration throughout the organization.

Judges Panel Blog Series: Upcoming Blogs

Dr. Kristin Stehouwer (Chair)
Allison A. Carter
Dr. Glenn Crotty
Kevin R. McManus
Bruce A. Requa

Previous Blogs

Tammy L. Dye
Eric K. Fletcher
MG John C. Harris
John R. Molenda, Jr.

A Systems Approach to Improving Your Organization’s Performance


2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework cover photo

Baldrige Excellence Framework

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.

Purchase your copy today!

Available versions: Business/Nonprofit, Education, and Health Care

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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