Claire Ford: Ensuring excellence and quality across Scotland

Claire Ford, Chief Executive of Quality Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Claire Ford, Chief Executive of Quality Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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WE’RE a small organisation but we have big ambitions says Claire Ford

At Quality Scotland we are very proud to have just entered our 25th anniversary year. As with all milestones, it gives us time to reflect on our history but also push ahead with our vision for the future for both our organisation and organisations across Scotland and truly strive to “make excellence a national characteristic of Scotland”.

Over the past 25 years we have trained more than 12,000 people across Scotland, supported more than 5,000 organisations and accredited 500 organisations at a European level. I am not saying that we have achieved everything we hoped for but as a small, independent organisation with fewer than 20 staff I feel proud to have been part of the last ten years of Quality Scotland’s history.

As has always been the case over our 25 year history, leaders are, ofcourse, key to driving forward organisational improvement. Being CEO for less than a year I fully appreciate that the pace of change in 2016 in incredibly quick. We all feel pressured as leaders to make an immediate impact on our organisations but how often do we do this with all the right tools and information to hand? The EFQM Excellence Model is the perfect tool for you whether a new leader or someone with a lot more experience behind you. Using it as your business tool to give you the information and holistic view that you need to shape the future direction of your organisation.

A wide range of leaders from all across Scotland joined us for our Parliamentary Reception on 26 January where Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP spoke about how important building sustainable Scottish businesses is to the economy and urged attendees to think longer term.

We very much believe that we can make an even bigger difference across Scotland and as we look ahead we want to ensure Quality Scotland has a central place in business improvement across all sectors. We want you to think of us as a first port of call to support your organisational improvement where we can provide you with one-to-one support, as well as many networking, mentoring, training and European recognition opportunities.

For me a major achievement will be when we don’t consistently hear of new improvement frameworks being developed with all the time, resource and energy that that takes. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – we have a tried and tested framework which works and is applicable to all. If an organisation’s resources can be diverted into the implementation of improvement rather than the development of another framework to support it, just think of the even greater success Scottish organisations could achieve.

Challenge us to demonstrate to you how you don’t need to create something new for your organisation but can use our knowledge and the flexibility of our approach to support your organisational challenges. The true impact isn’t felt by developing new frameworks but in the implementing and embedding some key fundamental principles of excellence within your organisation regardless of sector or size.

We have developed and adapted a lot over the past 25 years, and as the landscape changes we will continue to be flexible and adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of our members, building one-to-one relationships to gain a true understanding of your challenges and deliver a wide range of support in a very cost-effective way.

I would love to hear from you in 2016, come to one of our many events or network meetings this year and challenge us to see how we can support your organisation with its long-term success. We won’t promise you unrealistically that things will change overnight but you will see how you, your staff, customers and stakeholders can all reap the benefits of an excellence-focussed approach. What’s stopping you?

• Claire Ford is CEO of Quality Scotland. For information on our 25th anniversary events and our work visit