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The Official Baldrige Blog

What’s So Exciting about the Baldrige Judges’ Meeting?

Photo of Baldrige Award crystal

Baldrige Award crystal manufactured by Pelucida, Inc.

What a thrilling week of contests! Polls are open today around the country for citizens to vote in state and local elections. Many of us are eager to learn which candidates in these electoral contests will be declared winners for gubernatorial, legislative, and county and school board offices.

At the same time, if you are attuned to the award process of the nation’s highest honor for high-performing organizations, you are also awaiting the results of this week’s meeting of the Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA). During deliberations that began yesterday and will last four days, the MBNQA judges will be determining which 2015 award applicants have demonstrated performance at the level of national role models for U.S. business, health care, education, or nonprofit organizations.

What exactly are the 12 members of the 2015 Judges’ Panel doing during this nearly weeklong meeting? To be clear, their deliberations are not elections for the Baldrige Award. In recent weeks, the judges have been individually reviewing extensively documented findings of trained teams of volunteers that conducted site visits for each of this year’s finalists for the award. The judges are discussing each organization’s strengths and opportunities with each other—and periodically calling the examiner teams’ leaders to confirm findings from their site visits.

In the end, the judges will affirm the level of performance demonstrated by each organization against the rigorous framework of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence—and make recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who will name the 2015 Baldrige Award recipient(s). Over the following year, the award recipients will present on their processes and results in all categories of performance at the annual Quest for Excellence® conference and public “sharing days” at their sites. Those presentations will help other organizations of many different sectors, sizes, states, and strategic situations improve their performance.

And many of us find that exciting. As the late, great Letitia Baldrige observed,

“The Baldrige Award Program is still one of the best in the entire maelstrom of awards. There’s the Nobel Prize, the Oscars, and all that, but the Baldrige Award is right up there! It’s inspiring. It’s exciting. It makes us proud.”


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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I remember my term on the Panel of Judges with deep appreciation. It was a time filled with a sense of strong responsibility, but it was also invigorating. Reviewing the excellent work provided by the examiners and having rich discussions with the other judges was very fulfilling. So, thank you, current Panel of Judges, for the hard work you will do in recommending this year's Baldrige Award recipients.
I write to applaud, appreciate and endorse the Panel of Judges work as well as Kay Kendall's heart felt expression. Recalling your presentation to the Delaware audience, Kay, I'm hoping the masses of uninformed and non-believers will be compelled to action as we near the 100th Baldrige Award announcement. May this milestone become the tipping point for the many of (volunteers) drivers for performance excellence at the state level programs. Might the 2016 Panel of Judges find the disparity between education catching up to healthcare? This may help mitigate a critical disparity. applicants?

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