Do Excellence Models generate value?

If we accept that organisational excellence is all about generating outstanding value for stakeholders, then it is reasonable to apply this definition in the form of a question to the excellence models themselves. Do they generate outstanding value for their users?

From my observation over the years, this question does not have a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. What is certainly, and self-evidently, true is that organisations do not need excellence models in order to become excellent; consider if you doubt this the very many excellent organisations whose leaders have never heard of, yet alone used, any “excellence model”.  It is also true that those organisations that do use them will not automatically become excellent.  The value, I suggest, depends upon how these models are used. Used skilfully to deliver a clear excellence related objective, then value can be generated; used poorly and with no clear purpose, and it would be better if the organisations concerned had never adopted the use of them in the first place.

The original, and largely abiding, use to which these models are put is to assess the level of ‘excellence’ of the organisation, to identify what the strengths are on which to build, and what the weaknesses are that need to be addressed. However when used in this way these models can, in the wrong hands, become very ‘dangerous’ tools. Without a clear focus on what excellence really means, and a process of assessment that is build upon this, then unskilled assessors can not only generate no value but potentially cause immense damage.  For example, focusing on whether an organisation does all the things set out in a model or not is absurd – some of the things in the model may not add any value in the context of the organisation concerned or not be relevant at its stage of development; focusing on the strategic goals and objectives of the organisation and how well they are delivered and achieved can generate quite misleading assessment findings if the strategic goals/objectives are themselves ‘not right’, for example not focused on stakeholders or focused on only one stakeholder group. And the list of potential issues could go on….and on….at some considerable length!

So in all cases in which these models are used, the answer to the question of whether they generate value or not relates not so much to the models themselves but much more to the users of them.

The overall, short answer to the question has therefore, I suggest, got to be “maybe”!