During annual training completed last month, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program prepared 349 Baldrige examiners for assignments for the 2015 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and Baldrige Collaborative Assessments. In addition, 34 non-examiners who opted to pay to participate in the Examiner Preparation course learned how to assess organizations' performance using the Baldrige Excellence Framework and thus help their employers in wide-ranging sectors advance their performance.
Recently launched teams of 2015 Baldrige examiners are now ready to collaborate in evaluating organizations over several weeks this summer. The teams will (1) assess and write feedback for the 26 applicants for the 2015 Baldrige Award to help those organizations advance their performance using the Baldrige framework and (2) help identify the highest-performing organizations as national role models and best practices for recognition.
Reflecting a 72 percent response rate, 2015 training evaluation survey results show overall satisfaction with the training averaged 4.6 on a 5-point scale (in which "1" signifies being very dissatisfied and "5" means being very satisfied). "The greatest strengths for me are the table conversations—learning from each other, the interaction with the Baldrige staff in informal settings, and the networking after class," wrote one participant. In a similar vein, a participant wrote, "The group discussions are always very valuable; being able to feel secure in throwing out ideas and comments for feedback and to test understanding is very useful." Another participant wrote, "It was ... exhilarating ... to be in a room full of alpha learners. It was energizing to see the passion this group of volunteers have for the work. It is infectious."
Such favorable evaluations of the 2015 Examiner Preparation course complement the Baldrige Program's first-place rankings in recent years among government and military organizations in the annual Leadership 500 Excellence Awards. The Baldrige Program's training offerings also encompass the Baldrige Executive Fellows program. Both training programs help the Baldrige Program achieve its mission to improve the performance, competitiveness, and long-term sustainability of organizations in every sector.
The 2015 training of Baldrige examiners took place over three weeks in May in alternative three-day sessions at the Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where the national Baldrige Program is based. The peer-learning model of the Examiner Preparation course enables new examiners to benefit from the expertise and experience of seasoned Baldrige examiners who facilitate learning in each classroom. During the course, facilitators and participants exchange insights on all aspects of organizational leadership and assessment, such that both experienced and new examiners develop new competencies and perspectives on best practices across all sectors of the U.S. economy.
The 2015 training curriculum provided for intensive focus and discussions about the 2015–2016 Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence (released in December and included in the 2015–2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework booklets) to ensure participants' understanding of the ever-evolving Criteria requirements and concepts. (The Baldrige Criteria are revised every two years to stay on the leading edge of validated leadership and performance practices.) Use of a case study about a fictitious applicant for the Baldrige Award enabled participants to practice assessing an organization against the Baldrige Criteria. The 2015 case study features a complex organization serving U.S. military veterans and will be posted on the Baldrige website for use by the general public in July.
For the fourth consecutive year, tuition-based slots at Baldrige examiner training were made available to non-examiners last month. The alternative offering, known as the Baldrige Examiner Training Experience, enables participants to learn alongside Baldrige examiners in training classes without completing an assignment after training or accessing any proprietary data of Baldrige Award applicants. The 34 participants who took advantage of this opportunity this year represent a variety of jobs and sectors, with the majority working in the health care, education, and nonprofit sectors, including government at the local, state, and federal levels. International participants included visitors from India, the Philippines, Singapore, and Uruguay.
Each year, members of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners are competitively selected through an application process that begins the previous fall. The names, states, and organizations of the current board of examiners are listed each year on the Baldrige website.