About Excellence - Overview
"A few weeks ago, I gave my lecture on EFQM and I told my students to have a look at your website. I hope you don't mind." Dotun Adebanjo, Liverpool John Moores University.
The word 'excellence' has probably become just an advertising 'strapline' for many people. Organisations frequently use it to describe themselves or their products, and it is often not clear exactly what it stands for. It has become a piece of organisational jargon. What sane businessman would just use the word 'quality' nowadays - when everyone else talks about 'excellence'??
Even ignoring the promotional-driven uses of the word, there are still different ideas of 'excellence'. When applied to overall organisational excellence, in its 2013 Excellence Model guide the EFQM says:
Excellent Organisations achieve and sustain outstanding levels of performance that meet or exceed the expectations of all their stakeholders
For us it is also very much about a state of mind, not simply reaching a certain level of performance. It is about building a culture of continuous improvement as well. We would argue that a complacent organisation with superior performance - even over a few years - is less in tune with 'excellence' than a lower performing one that is relentlessly working on improvement. The EFQM Excellence Model and its Fundamental Concepts can help your progress.
In our Downloads section, we have added a short pdf note with some further thoughts about the definition of Excellence. (The note will open in a separate window.)
Fundamental Concepts of Excellence
The EFQM Excellence Model is built on some 'Fundamental Concepts of Excellence'. The wording for the 2013 Model are as follows, with the previous wording in brackets. The order is alphabetical, not in priority.
- Adding Value for Customers (same as previous wording)
- Creating a Sustainable Future (previously Taking Responsibility for a Sustainable Future)
- Developing Organisational Capability (builds on the previous Building Partnerships)
- Harnessing Creativity & Innovation (previously Nurturing Creativity and Innovation)
- Leading with Vision, Inspiration and Integrity (same)
- Managing with Agility (previously Managing by Processes, but now emphasises agility as well as process)
- Succeeding through the Talent of People (previously Succeeding through People)
- Sustaining Outstanding Results (previously Achieving Balanced Results)
The wording of these Concepts was significantly updated in the 2013 Model, including the expansions/slight changes of emphasis in the concepts of Developing Organisational Capability and Managing with Agility. But their essence remains similar to what has gone before, as one might expect given their description as ‘Fundamental’ Concepts.
Unless you agree that these represent a good way to run an organisation for the longer term, then there is little point in thinking about using the Model. You may feel that they are not all fully embedded in the organisation, but as long as you personally believe they are right, then you have the basis for action.
For companies in the UK, an approach called Enlightened Shareholder Value has now been enshrined in law by Section 172 of the Companies Act 2006. It is now part of company directors' formal responsibilities in running the company. The underlying components of ESV neatly match a number of the Fundamental Concepts of Excellence - we have written a short article about Section 172 and the Excellence Model (although this refers to the Concepts as given in the 2010 Model the basic message remains).
Quality frameworks around the world generally have similar principles. The wording may not be identical, but they usually come down to the same things.
Where to now?
This section of our site gives some basic information about Excellence - have a look around. We do not intend it to be encyclopaedic. It is after all a broad subject and there are other sources of information.
Our Downloads section has more information about excellence including a pdf copy of our booklet "Self-assessing for Excellence" which is an introduction to the Model and using it. It also has other articles and frequently requested diagrams.