What is business excellence (also known as organisational excellence) and why does it matter for New Zealand organisations?

The term business excellence has become a bit of a buzz-word, but what does it really mean and why does it matter?  Our continuous improvement specialist Wayne Burroughs explains.

Business excellence – sometimes referred to as organisational excellence – is a framework for developing and strengthening all facets of an organisation to improve performance and create value for its stakeholders. It can be seen best when an organisation demonstrates world-class strategies, processes, and stakeholder-related performance results.

Business excellence can be validated through assessments using proven business excellence models (BEMs), which are based on a set of fundamental concepts or values. These BEMs continue to evolve thanks to extensive studies of the world’s highest-performing organisations’ practices and values.

Time again, using these frameworks has proven to be a highly effective way for any type of organisation to improve its performance.

The first BEMs were developed in the late-1980s as a result of the Western World’s quality movement.  In turn, this movement was a response to advances in quality and competitiveness in Japan. Gradually, the term business excellence superseded the terms quality and total quality management (TQM).

How business excellence models are used today

Today, many countries use business excellence models as a mechanism to improve organisational performance and enhance national competitiveness. BEMS are used in all aspects of private and public organisations worldwide.

Wayne Burroughs

Wayne Burroughs

They provide a systematic, structured, integrated, and highly sustainable approach to organisational improvement. Using a scale of excellence, business excellence frameworks help to objectively determine an organisation’s position during its business excellence journey, and identify specific strengths and areas for improvement.

From these assessments, organisations can develop robust action plans to build on their strengths and address their challenges. When used as a basis for an organisation’s improvement culture, BEM criteria focus best practices on areas where their effect is most beneficial to performance.

The most widely known and used BEMs are the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the EFQM Excellence Model. Baldrige promotes seven assessment criteria for business excellence, whereas EFQM promotes nine. Other popular BEMs (including those from Japan, Canada, Australia, and Singapore) are similar albeit with slight variations in criteria and approach.

Throughout the world, organisations are increasingly adopting BEMs to improve performance. With growing interest and academic research on the subject, business excellence is expected to continue its influence as one of the strongest and most effective approaches for organisational performance improvement.

The New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation (NZBEF) and why we support it

NZBEF is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that supports and guides New Zealand organisations to achieve world-class levels of performance, productivity and capability.  Since its formation in 1992, NZBEF has helped many New Zealand organisations achieve world-class performance levels either directly or through its various partners.

It’s a great resource for members. For any given process or business improvement project there are performance measures, benchmarks, best practices, self-assessment tools, expert opinions, articles, case studies and more available to guide you. Members can also gain further information, new contacts, benchmarking partners or assistance by way of networking with other members and finding out about their own experiences.

NZBEF also owns the Baldrige Awards process for New Zealand. Entering a Baldrige Award is the ultimate test for an organisation undertaking a business excellence journey.

Complete Learning Solutions sponsors NZBEF because we know how following a recognised business excellence model benefits New Zealand organisations.  Helping organisations maximise their return on their L&D investment lies at the heart of our business.  It’s a perfect fit with business excellence because organisational improvement can only be achieved through having skilled, knowledgeable and engaged people.