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The Official Baldrige Blog

What Is It Like to Train as an Examiner?


For years, professionals with a passion for continuous improvement have taken advantage of a program that allows them to train like Baldrige examiners--to get to the very heart of operational excellence and to be world-class assessors of best practices. That program is the Baldrige Examiner Training Experience, which allows them to train and network with Baldrige examiners and to bring back to their organizations new skills and learning on how to move their organizations toward excellence.

In 2016, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is again making a limited number of seats in the 2016 Baldrige Examiner Preparation Course available for a fee for people who want to train like an examiner but not commit to examiner assignments after training. This preparation course was highlighted in the Baldrige Program's multiple first-place wins among government/military leadership development programs in Leadership Excellence magazine. Baldrige Examiner Training Experience participants do not have to complete Baldrige award process assignments after the course, nor will they be members of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners.

As part of the course, participants will learn the evaluation methods and techniques used by Baldrige examiners and explore the Baldrige Excellence Framework, which has been called the world standard for organizational performance excellenceUsing a case study methodology and peer-driven learning model, participants will learn how to use the Baldrige Excellence Framework to

  • evaluate an organization’s processes,
  • evaluate an organization’s results, and
  • write actionable feedback that can help any organization (including their own) improve.

The strengths of the Baldrige Examiner Training Experience, according to 2015 participants, are

  • A welcome atmosphere
  • Baldrige examiners’ dedication to the process and willingness to share
  • The knowledge of facilitators, as well as their kindness, patience, thoughtfulness, and professionalism
  • The variety of training methods used: prework, small group, whole classroom, and one-on-one learning
  • A learning environment that mixes experience levels and allows for mentoring and networking
  • Sequencing of training that progressively builds skills

The 2015 participants have said

"This was truly a wonderful training. I left with such a greater understanding of Baldrige and what examiners look for when they score an application. The Baldrige staff as well as the classroom leaders were extremely helpful, kind, understanding, and patient." --Mohammad Fatemi, Alta Vista Solutions

“I would once again like to thank the Baldrige Program for making a [Baldrige Examiner Training Experience] attendee like myself feel a part of the process and leave with a much better understanding of the framework and examination process. I never once felt like a fly-on-the-wall or a second-class participant. This inclusiveness came from the facilitators and the experienced and new examiners and even from the program director. The prework case study was a masterpiece. Well done.” --Nate Verhanovitz

"As a nonexaminer, I really liked the integrated class structure and learned a lot from experienced evaluators. I think the experienced examiners also benefited from fresh perspectives and those of visitors like me who are primarily concerned with working the Criteria." --David Gessert, U.S. Department of the Treasury

"Our facilitators were amazing! They did a great job of working through the material but also reacting to how our class was best learning the information. I also liked the sequencing of the training. I felt like I was progressively building skills as the days went on." --Jennifer Battle

Spots in this highly interactive learning experience are limited. Information on location, dates, tuition, and registration can be found on the Baldrige website.

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...

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Regarding: "The knowledge of facilitators, as well as their kindness, patience, thoughtfulness, and professionalism" (third "strength" bullet above), and Jennifer Battle's quote that “Our facilitators were amazing!": Absolutely true, and an understatement. The Baldrige instructors, program leaders, staff, Alumni Examiners and all the others who "facilitate" are better described as The Rock Stars of Performance Excellence. Jump into the mosh pit. Rock on!
For the first or second initial training sessions it has been described as drinking from a fire hose which is pretty correct. Participating in a couple of site visits really helps in understanding how the criteria works. My own experience is that even after a number of years doing this the yearly training is necessary. What's neat about the experience is that if people are at training for the most part they are by definition enthusiastic about the process and interested in helping new people. An added benefit is that you meet a lot of people from different industries and there are some great networking experiences. Plus it feels so good when it's all over so come on in.

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