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The Official Baldrige Blog

Focus on the 2018 Judges’ Panel: Kevin McManus

Judges Panel Kevin McManus 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 Kevin McManus

McManus is one of five new Baldrige judges this year.

head shot of Baldrige judge Kevin McManus

Kevin R. McManu
Chief Excellence Officer
Great Systems



What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?  

Mainly, those experiences have been related to my consistent participation in the annual Baldrige Award process as an examiner over the past 18 years. I consider this the best career development activity in which I can invest my time.

I have made a significant effort to keep learning year over year and developing my skills as an examiner across the different phases of the process [Independent Review, Consensus Review, and Site Visit Review]. I have also had the benefit of learning from people with whom I was able to work during 15 site visits at the national level—invaluable experiences!

How do you see the Baldrige Excellence Framework as valuable to businesses and other organizations?

The Baldrige Excellence Framework provides a blueprint for helping organizations build the work systems necessary to support high performance goals.

As the 11 core values permeate all aspects of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence (part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework booklets), this blueprint is also grounded in sound approaches to doing business and working with people.

Finally, the fact that 45 percent of the points [in a Baldrige organizational assessment] are results-based makes it an evidence-based model for assessing performance improvement over time, across a variety of process types.

How do you apply Baldrige principles/concepts in your current work?

As the sole proprietor of my own business, I informally use the Baldrige framework every day. I also use related formal tools (e.g., for strategic planning and identification of customer requirements), which I learned to refine as an examiner, to help run my organization. Part of me would like to see my company receive the Baldrige Award someday, but it is more important that I am able to apply the Baldrige Criteria to help create a sustainable organization that reflects the values and goals I want my company to support.

As a new member of the panel, what are your hopes for the judging process? For instance, is there anything you’d like to help applicants and potential Baldrige Award applicants understand about the process?

My hope is that we can do our part to help grow the application of the Baldrige Criteria across more and more organizations. It would also be nice if we could somehow help others realize that using the Baldrige framework is not as complicated as some make it out to be.

Most important, I hope we can do an even better job of teaching people that great work processes that are refined and integrated are needed by businesses and other organizations to sustain excellent results—we do not have nearly enough organizations practicing and living the Baldrige core values.

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

  1. Become an examiner at the state, regional, or national level.
  2. Begin building a digital version (an application for a Baldrige Award) of your organization’s story. Learn how the Baldrige assessment and improvement process works by living the process.
Judges Panel Blog Series: Upcoming Blogs

Dr. Kristin Stehouwer (Chair)
Allison A. Carter
Bruce A. Requa

Previous Blogs

Glenn Crotty
Tammy L. Dye
Eric K. Fletcher
MG John C. Harris
John R. Molenda, Jr.
Dee Springer

A Systems Approach to Improving Your Organization’s Performance

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

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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