Seven U.S. organizations have been selected to receive site visits this fall, proceeding to the final stage of the examination process for the 2021 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA), the nation’s highest award for organizational performance excellence.
During a virtual meeting last week, the 2021 Judges Panel of the MBNQA reviewed scoring data from the first two evaluation stages of the annual award process. To determine which organizations would receive site visits, the judges looked only at blinded scoring data, thus avoiding any conflicts of interest and ensuring the integrity of the award process. The scoring data were produced by evaluation teams composed of trained volunteers, Baldrige examiners, who themselves are competitively selected each year based on experience and expertise.
Fourteen applicants were evaluated during the first two phases of the 2021 Baldrige Award process. The seven organizations moving forward in the process will receive weeklong site visits in late September through early October. These selected organizations, of varying workforce sizes and sectors, include one health care organization, three nonprofits (a category that includes government), a service business, and two education organizations.
For the second year in a row, due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, site visits will be held virtually this fall. As with the traditional on-site process, all 2021 Baldrige Award applicants are receiving a rigorous evaluation by members of the independent, all-volunteer Board of Examiners for the MBNQA. The assessments focus on seven areas of performance, as defined by the 2021–2022 Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence: leadership; strategy; customers; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; workforce; operations; and results. In this process, Baldrige examiners are providing each award applicant with 500 to 1,000 hours of review and a detailed report on the organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. Despite not being physically on-site at the organizations, the site visit teams will hold interviews of employees at all levels of the workforce to clarify and verify information submitted by each organization’s Baldrige Award application; those interviews will be conducted virtually.
The Baldrige Award’s Judges’ Panel will reconvene in November to review findings about the site-visited organizations’ performance and determine which to recommend to the secretary of commerce to be named 2021 Baldrige Award recipients. Only the names of the award applicants that are selected for the Baldrige Award will be revealed publicly at that time. The awardees are traditionally honored at a ceremony held in conjunction with the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® Conference each spring.
The Judges’ Panel of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award consists of 12 members, each of whom traditionally serves a three-year term. The 2021 panel includes four new judges—Keith Everett, Cary Hill, Lynda Johnson, and Amy Pugh—appointed by Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. Secretary Raimondo also appointed Patricia Skriba to serve as chair of the 2021 panel.
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in cooperation with the private sector and with support from the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The program raises awareness about the importance of performance excellence in driving the U.S. and global economy; provides organizational assessment tools and criteria; and educates leaders in all types of organizations about the practices of national role models. The Baldrige Award recognizes the nation’s top-level performers in six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education, and nonprofit. The Baldrige Award is not given for specific products or services. Since the first Baldrige Award recipients were recognized in 1988, 134 awards have been presented to 124 organizations (including nine two-time award recipients and one three-time award recipient).