I have recently been reading the latest issue of an excellent business management journal. The main focus in the issue I was reading was on “Excellence Models”, and one in particular. As someone familiar with the model concerned and a strong supporter of its purpose and use, I enjoyed reading the articles on it. But…..nowhere did I see any reference to, or attempt to define in any cogent way, what “Excellence”, in an organisational or business context, is. No doubt the articles were appreciated by supporters of the model concerned, but to those seeking enlightenment on what we mean by “Excellence”, or needing to become engaged with and committed to it, including using the model to which the articles referred, there was little by way of insight provided. Would you buy a tool if you were not clear what it was intended to help you achieve? I was reminded afresh how easy it is for enthusiasts of certain management ‘tools’, ‘frameworks’, ‘standards’ and so on to try so hard to sell them to others and become downhearted and disillusioned when “management” do not seem interested. As any salesman would tell us, “sell the benefits of the product/service, not the product/service itself”. So to sell an Excellence Model necessitates, as its name suggests, selling firstly the concept of “Excellence” and the benefits of committing to achieve it, and then how the Model can help that achievement. If we are unclear about, or forgetful of, what we mean by “Excellence” how can we ever begin to sell a Model that is intended to help deliver it?
So let’s start by being clear about what we mean by “Excellence” and uniting behind a simple and clear definition of what it is. In an earlier post a few years ago I set out a few thoughts on what it is, and quoted one of my favourite definitions, one that incidentally was defined by the same organisation that developed the model about which I was reading. My thinking has developed a little since then and in a future blog I will try to explore the concept of ‘delivering value’ to stakeholders as lying at the root of what we mean by “Excellence”.
Meantime let’s all try and avoid the mistake of trying to sell or, (worse), trying to use something, the purpose of which we don’t know, or simply just overlook.