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The Official Baldrige Blog

Focus on the Baldrige Board of Overseers: Robert Pence

Focus on the Baldrige Board of Overseer Robert Pence showing engineers and architects working on blueprints in the background.
Credit: Akira Kaelyn/Shutterstock
Board of Overseers Blog Series

Like other federal programs, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is overseen by an advisory committee whose members are appointed by a cabinet member of the Presidential administration; in our case, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. By charter, the Baldrige Board of Overseers is tasked with reviewing the work of the program and recommending improvements.

In this board of overseers blog series, we will be interviewing members of the Board of Overseers. In the interviews, they share their insights and perspectives on their experiences, on the Baldrige Program and its products and services, and on the Baldrige approach to organizational improvement.

Meet Baldrige Overseer Robert Pence

Photo of Robert F. Pence, Board of Overseers, Baldrige Program

Robert F. Pence
Freese and Nichols, Inc.
Former President and CEO (Serving 15 years)
2010 Baldrige Award Recipient



What experiences led you to the role of Baldrige overseer?

My company received the Baldrige Award in 2010, and we have improved our business significantly as a result of using the Baldrige Criteria. (Freese and Nichols, Inc., is the first engineering/architecture firm to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.)

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

Without a doubt, the Baldrige Criteria provide an excellent framework for operating a business and continuing to improve. One of the classic problems with companies today is that they don’t know what they don’t know. By employing the Baldrige Criteria, you learn a great deal about your company and how to improve your business. The right questions are asked, and these lead to the needed improvements.

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

The Baldrige Criteria are integrated into how we run our business. Everything we do, we feel we can do better the next time through using our plan-do-check-act (PDCA) process. We set our company goals and then cascade them into the company, so that every section/person has a defined role in making our company successful. All our processes are documented, and our review system focuses on these goals. We perform root cause analysis to identify and implement improvements.

The charter of the Board of Overseers says the overseers shall make suggestions for the improvement of Baldrige and act as an advisory committee for the program. As an overseer, what improvements/changes at the Baldrige Program are you most excited about? 

There are many areas that excite me about what the Baldrige Program is doing. Moving into new areas such as cybersecurity and social media has kept the Criteria up to date and highly relevant. The Baldrige framework, with its Criteria, is truly a living document and continues to improve.

What encouragement/advice would you give U.S. organizations thinking about applying for the Baldrige Award or using another one of the Baldrige Program’s products or services?

My question would be what are you waiting for? The results and success we have achieved since embarking on the Baldrige journey are simply incredible. My company started the Baldrige journey due to a very low-performing year, and we needed to do something. My advice is join the journey before you are on a burning platform!

Board of Overseers Blog Series: Previous Blogs

Bennie W. Fowler
Patricia Fagan Greco
John Jasinski
Reatha Clark King

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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