Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Excellence?

For several years now, we’ve faced challenges such as the economic crisis and sometimes we’ve felt deflated. Making ends meet or being satisfied by reaching basic expectations isn’t enough these days. Only organisations striving for excellence can find solutions to exceed normal performances and achieve outstanding results they can sustain. They are the one we call Leaders; role model organisations and they’re always looking for opportunities to improve and be innovative because they know the world never stands still.

In order to be excellent, organisations can’t focus their efforts in just one area. They have to optimise the use and effectiveness of all of their resources within the overall organisation. Every day new opportunities, new processes or new tools & techniques appear, supporting the organisation’s development: The Balanced Score Card (BSC) provides a framework for monitoring KPIs, ISO9001 secures a robust Quality Management System, ISO26000 provides guidance for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Lean helps eliminate waste and streamline processes… But how effectively do these different approaches fit together? Wouldn’t it be great to have one tool to help ensure the components of our Management System are working together to optimise performance?

2. How do we manage this level of complexity?

After 25 years of working with organisations of different sizes, sectors or maturity, using various approaches to improve their performance, it seems clear that key elements need to be managed for an organisation to excel. We call these elements “The Fundamental Concepts of Excellence”.

Used as a strategic evaluation tool, the EFQM Excellence Model offers a holistic view of the organisation, highlighting its strengths and opportunities to improve. Used as a benchmarking tool, the Model will show how an organisation compares to its competitors and other leading organisations. Used as a management tool, it will help set the performance and competency objectives of the organisation…

3. How do we coordinate the activities of the organisation?

The EFQM Excellence Model provides a holistic tool for assessing how effective you are in developing and delivering a stakeholder focused strategy. The 4 result areas focus on what’s important to the 4 key stakeholder groups (Business, Customer, People, Society).

At its simplest level, the Model is a cause and effect diagram. If we want to achieve a different result, we need to change something we do within the organisation.  The Model provides a framework for understanding which levers we need to pull in order to achieve the results we want.  It helps us understand the role each part of our organisation needs to play in effectively implementing our strategy; whether that’s in an SME, a school or a global company.

And because what is considered excellent today will only be considered as adequate tomorrow, there is a continual improvement loop, feeding back the learning from the results achieved and using creativity and innovation to drive increased value for all the stakeholders.

4. Who does the organisation work for?

The traditional view is the shareholders, or owners or ‘political masters’ are the ones we’re working for. If you’d asked any CEO 20 years ago, that’s the answer you’d have got. And they want a return on their investment; whether that’s dividends, profit or ‘value for money’.

But from an internal perspective, this means optimising profitability and balancing the short-term demands for dividends against the long-term sustainability of the business model.

To ensure sustainable financial growth, we need to keep our customers satisfied. To do this, we need to develop and deliver products & services that add value to them. We also need to deliver excellent service to maximise retention, loyalty and our reputation.

5. Who delivers this to our customers?

Our people. An organisation is only as good as the people who work in it. If we want to attract, retain and fully engage our people, they need to have opportunities to grow. They need to feel cared for; that their efforts are recognised and appreciated. They need to be proud of the organisation they work in, the products and services they deliver and feel that they are making a positive contribution to the world around them.

So, the ability to attract and retain talented people isn’t just about what goes on inside the organisation, it’s also about the contribution to, and perceptions of, wider society. Are we talking about ‘the people on the street‚’ here? Well, for some organisations, this might be the case. But in most organisations, there are some key stakeholder groups within society who either influence us or who we want to influence. They could be potential customers; potential partners; potential employees; potential investors. If we want to be attractive to them, we need to have a strong brand reputation. We need to be able to demonstrate that we adopt the highest standards of ethical behaviour in all our actions. We need to have transparent and proactive communication and reporting to build this trust.

6. How do we achieve this?

We need leaders who inspire trust at all time; who are role models for the organisations values and integrity. They need to have a clear vision for the future; develop the strategies that will achieve these goals and engage the stakeholders to join them on this journey. The organisation needs robust internal processes to ensure they manage their resources effectively and efficiently and the right partners and suppliers to deliver.

7. So who do you work for today?

You work for all these stakeholders. And it’s part of the job of the Management Team to understand what they expect from my organisation. Of course, we can’t deliver everything that everyone wants all the time; that’s why we need to create a dialogue so we can effectively balance these different, sometimes conflicting expectations and come up with a plan that works for all.

8. How do we manage this level of complexity?

How do we coordinate the activities of the organisation to achieve the juggling act required to balance the different stakeholder needs? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a framework that helped us make sense of this?

Well, we think there is. The EFQM Excellence Model provides a holistic tool for assessing how effective you are in developing and delivering a stakeholder focused strategy. The 4 result areas focus on what’s important to the 4 key stakeholder groups.

At its simplest level, the Model is a cause and effect diagram. If we want to achieve a different result, we need to change something we do within the organisation.

And because what is considered excellent today will only be considered as adequate tomorrow, there is a continual improvement loop, feeding back the learning from the results achieved and using creativity and innovation to drive increased value for the stakeholders.

9. How do you define excellence?

We can all think of organisations that we would recognise as being excellent. They may well operate in different environments, with different stakeholder constituencies, and come in all shapes and sizes but what they share is a common mindset that is based on a number of attributes and ways of working that separate them from the crowd.

The FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS OF EXCELLENCE outline the foundation for achieving sustainable excellence in any organisation. They can be used as the basis to describe the attributes of an excellent organisational culture. They also serve as a common language for top management.

These eight Concepts have been identified through a rigorous process that included benchmarking globally, searching extensively for emerging management trends and, last but not least, a series of interviews with senior executives from a cross-section of industries operating across Europe. Each of the Concepts is important in its own right but maximum benefit is achieved when an organisation can integrate them all into its culture.

10. Why use our model?

If you are not familiar with the EFQM Excellence Model but you are willing to improve your organisation, this is the first step to get started! As previously stated, this is the first approach towards Excellence, it is a simple tool and doesn’t require any pre-existing knowledge of EFQM and its Model.

11. Why an assessment?

Our Assessment templates have been created to enable you to easily assess the performance of your organisation. Assessment is essential within the philosophy of EFQM. To reach a desired excellent performance, you need to know where you are now, so that you will identify the required changes and actions to start the journey towards Excellence.