I was recently talking with a man who had just completed some training on how to assess organisational excellence for one of the excellence awards. He was worried about how he, a fairly inexperienced manager, could effectively assess what an organisation does when he was quite unfamiliar with it or the industry sector concerned. Not once did he mention assessing what they achieved, even after a few friendly prompts! It struck me as we continued our discussion that like many, he was more concerned with ‘means’ rather than ‘ends’, in other words with what the organisation does rather than what it achieves.
Organisational excellence is, I would argue, all about what an organisation achieves. As discussed in earlier posts, the excellence of an organisation is determined by its stakeholders, (they are the main and final arbiters), and they make their decisions based on how well the organisation in which they have a ‘stake’ performs, based on their criteria. So is what an organisation does not important? Of course it is, because understanding what is causing the results they are achieving helps the organisation to take the necessary actions to ensure that those results become, or remain, superior, sustained and sustainable, and above all focused on the expectations of their stakeholders – the three true characteristics of organisational excellence that I call the “3S’s of performance excellence”.
I think the new assessor I was speaking with finally got it, for he said, “Oh I think I’ve been viewing this whole assessment activity in a completely wrong way. I need to start with the results, see to what extend they deliver the 3S’s, then look at the causes of them in terms of what the organisational does, and assess these actions based on how well they are delivering the 3S results.” Regrettably not, it transpired, what he’d been taught but all I needed to say was “Exactly!”