Participants in the recent 2014 Baldrige Examiner Preparation course expressed appreciation for the enriched learning and cross-sector fellowship they experienced in and outside their classrooms. "Never have I attended a more valuable training," said Tony Seifred, quality systems manager at Smyth Companies. "Everyone was so sincerely focused on MY learning. What an incredible group of people. I am so grateful for the experience!" As a new Baldrige examiner, Seifred participated in the annual training for the first time last month. "It was intense and exhausting, but well worth the effort!" agreed Pam Raymond, another new examiner who serves as IT program project manager at Boeing. "Thank you for the wonderful learning experience this past week! Great people and a great mission," wrote Elizabeth Knudsen, manager of Enterprise Patient Experience Advisory Services at Press Ganey Associates.
Bridget Dewees, a Baldrige examiner for several years who directs institutional effectiveness assessments for an education organization, shared the following story to explain why Baldrige examiner training "is on the top of my list for ‘real’ professional development!"
I was just starting out as the director of quality for a higher education organization and needed relevant experience—a colleague pointed me in the Baldrige direction. It has changed my perspective on assessment, continuous improvement, and organizational development.
The return on investment for my organization was huge! It was an inexpensive way to learn tactics and techniques for implementing quality and over the years I built a network of quality professionals that I still call on as needed.
Similarly, Jim Beckham, a veteran Baldrige examiner who first attended training as a new examiner in 1996, described the "true $ ROI" of Baldrige examiner training with this story of a former employer:
When I was with Dana, the corporation started an internal Baldrige assessment program where the cost of an application was sending three people to be trained as examiners, who would then examine other divisions’ applications. … In addition, we required that any new person promoted to one of our sub-business unit management teams would attend an annual three-day self-assessment, along with other representatives of each sub-business unit, where they would learn and use the [Baldrige Criteria] to evaluate our organization.
The benefit was that three and half years later, we received the Baldrige award. And of course the true ROI was having more business, and more repeat business, from our customers.
Such feedback affirms the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s first-place ranking last month among government and military organizations in the annual Leadership 500 Excellence Awards for leadership development programs; the Baldrige Program’s training offerings include Baldrige examiner training and the Baldrige Executive Fellows program. Both training programs help the Baldrige Program (part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST]) to achieve its mission to improve the competitiveness and performance of organizations in every sector.