27 Years of Baldrige
One Examiner's Perspective
As Baldrige marks its 27th anniversary, you may be interested in knowing what it was like to serve on the Board of Examiners when it all began in 1988. In fact, nobody from the current Baldrige Program was there . . . but, I was. Here are some highlights:
Examiners received an invitation from the President of the United States to join him at the White House for the official award presentation.
Most feedback reports were written by hand . . . making it no fun trying to read and assimilate your team's individual reports
Each Examiner received several applications to assess. . . processing 6 or more applications was not uncommon
Your first training session was held in the evening . . . and, there were homework assignments for the other evenings
NIST was known as NBS (National Bureau of Standards)
Each Examiner was photographed individually with the Secretary of Commerce and with the Award Director (Dr. Curt Reimann)
1988 Secretary of Commerce C. William Verity Jr. and 1989 Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher
A very special and pivotal moment in my career occurred in 1988 when I received my first Baldrige Examiner Certificate from Dr. Curt Reimann. My life would never be the same:
1988 Baldrige Examiner Training: Dr. Curt Reimann, Baldrige Award Program Director and Paul Steel
Your fellow Examiners were truly a 'Who's Who' of the top quality executives from many of America's largest businesses . . . not that titles necessarily made them the best Examiners . . .
1988 Original Baldrige Board of Examiners with Dr. Curt Reimann and Paul Steel
You received personal letters (such as the one from Robert Galvin of Motorola below) thanking you for your service from some of America's best known CEOs . . . and. your name appeared in full page ads in the Wall Street Journal and similar prestigious publications.
You were given contact information for about a dozen CEOs in your region for purposes of contacting them and soliciting funds to support the Award
Unlike today's easier standard, 'world-class' processes and results were part of the requirements in the top scoring band.
Examiner perks included your very own official 'Baldrige Award Flag' and Bronze Medallion
You had to choose your Examiner training location from among Milwaukee, Atlanta, Gaithersburg, Los Angeles, or Houston
Serving as a Baldrige Examiner is all about volunteering your time to contribute to improvement in the competitiveness of your nation, state, region, or locality. It would have been easy to not serve as a founding member of the Washington State Quality Award (WSQA), because of the tremendous success I was enjoying internationally due to my national role, but I couldn't resist. I served as a Judge, Examiner trainer, and member of the Board of Directors for several years. I've received a personal letter from Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke thanking me for my role in founding the WSQA. However, the recognition I am most proud of was being selected by my WSQA colleagues as Volunteer of the Year.
In the late nineties, the Baldrige Alumni Examiner Program was established. I was invited to participate in the pilot program and in 1998 I was welcomed by Dr. Harry Hertz when I arrived at NIST. Dr. Hertz has continued to show his appreciation for my Examiner services and makes me feel valued in many ways as he does for all Examiners:
1998 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Dr. Harry Hertz, Baldrige Quality Award Program Director and Paul Steel