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.”