November 29, 2008

Creating Business Excellence: The adaptability of the EFQM model. Cultural issues

While doing some research for my PMA I have found very useful information about how the Excellence Model has been implemented not only in the private sector but in the public one as well. As two completely different areas they share similar challenges when trying to adapt the EFQM model into their management process, like the cultural one, how to sustain among the employees an attitude for continuous improvement? Or a more process-based one like how can we integrate the activities that we are doing well into the new framework of excellence and how can we align them to our new strategy?

It is interesting how the public sector is becoming more and more aware of the benefits that working under a continuous improvement framework, be it EFQM, Baldridge or Deming’s, etc. brings upon an organisation. They have been using the model for not so long ago, mainly because lots of people within the sector believed that its purpose was only to be applicable in the business and manufacturing sector. Wrong! The non-prescriptive nature of the model makes it adaptable to any kind of business as long as people understand their needs and how they can found some leverage in the model. Eventually, people in the public sector have realised this, and now they are using a slightly different version of the model, most of the changes made in the wording, from a business focused one to a more suitable vocabulary, ie. patients or students instead of customers.

For this reason is that I found the EFQM a powerful framework of developing change for improvement no matter the kind of organisation its going to be applied in.

What is drawing my attention now it’s the issue of how effective can be the model if applied in my former organisation? Where the gap between shop-floor employees and office executives is huge, mainly because of educational factors. For this reason, the cultural barrier is going to play a key role here, making the sustainability of the cultural change too difficult a task to achieve. I think that is why before coming to the U.K. I’ve never heard before of these quality frameworks, of course we got TQM, improvement circles, 6 sigma, etc. but nothing as big as this. So why then is the reason that in South America we haven’t come up with a widely accepted quality framework of our own???

A cultural issue?........


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