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The Official Baldrige Blog

Focus on the 2019 Judges Panel: Brigitta Mueller

Baldrige Judges Panel Dr. Brigitta Mueller photo
2019 Judges Panel Blog Series

Each year we interview the newest members of the Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award to share their individual 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 Brigitta U. Mueller

Photo of Brigitta Mueller 2019 Baldrige Judges Panel.

Dr. Brigitta U. Mueller
Physician Executive and Former Professor of Pediatrics



What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige judge?

A colleague of mine mentioned that he was in his first year as a Baldrige examiner and that he loved the experience! At the time, I was relatively new in a leadership role and was looking for an overall concept that would help me make sense of all the different aspects of understanding, evaluating, and leading an organization.

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

My background is in health care, an industry that is, in effect, drowning in different measurements, evaluations, and ratings. The Baldrige Excellence Framework provides a tiered approach to focus on the important aspects of measuring and improving the performance of an organization. It allows an organization, regardless of its maturity level, to assess where it stands and gives it a roadmap to continued improvement. This holistic approach is crucial for such a complex and rapidly changing industry as health care.

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

We all have a tendency to judge an organization based on our previous experience. As a Baldrige examiner, I have been impressed in observing how the framework can be applied to very different organizations. In fact, I had the privilege to lead a site visit to an organization that had nothing to do with health care, where I clearly had no subject expertise. However, the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence (and our evaluation process) were nonetheless just as applicable to that organization as to those in health care! I think that my experience on the Baldrige Judges Panel will broaden my horizon even more!

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

My advice for Baldrige examiners: Take the process seriously! The more you invest in it, the more you get out of it! This is time well spent, and you will grow professionally as well as personally by participating!

My encouragement for them: Especially in the beginning, the process looks overwhelming, but over time it will become easier and more manageable. You will learn how much time you need, and you will have the team (and the team leader), as well as the Baldrige staff, to support you. And every organization that you evaluate has something to teach you! Enjoy the experience!

Judges Panel Blog Series: Previous Blogs

Kristin Steuhouwer (Panel Chair)
Allison Carter
Glenn Crotty
Eric Fletcher
Christopher Laxton
Kevin McManus
John Molenda, Jr.
Bruce Requa
JoAnn Sternke

Upcoming Blog Interviews

Amy Katschman
Patricia Skriba

2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework Business/Nonprofit cover artwork

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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