Excellence cannot be restricted by borders

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ASPIRATION can and must be key to business success, says Claire Ford.

Over the past few years there has been a lot of discussion about borders, and whether we like it or not we have to move forward, developing as businesses and looking ahead to how we can deal with both the common and individual challenges we all face to make Scotland stronger.

We have to accept that we don’t have to deal with our organisational challenges in isolation, but instead embrace the opportunities of learning from good practice across Europe and beyond. There is a common culture of the pursuit of excellence across Europe and organisations in every sector that we can learn from.

Quality Scotland is an independent charity and the home of the EFQM Excellence Model in Scotland, but we are part of a much larger network of 34 partner organisations across Europe.

Sharing experiences, learning from each other and above all ensuring we are at the forefront of this “excellence engagement” is vital. Our reach has to be aligned with the broadest spectrum of our thinking, as I found out recently on a visit to Athens to attend a meeting of the European Business Excellence Network.

As part of this network, Quality Scotland is able to provide our members with a wealth of best practice opportunities across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Members recently returned from a visit to automotive giant Bosch Blaichach in Bavaria, which centred on the theme “Global Manufacturing and Industrie 4.0”. This visit left our members inspired.

Bosch Blaichach exudes a passion for excellence that few companies can match and is a beacon for excellence.

Bosch – probably best known in the UK for its range of automotive brake products – wants to make history within the area of Industrie 4.0 to ensure that, in particular, lean processes remain pivotal to the success of its industrial plants.

We are also collaborating with our European partners around common areas of SMEs, marketing and developing an “ambassador in excellence” programme. This collaboration enables us to draw skills from each other and to explore the similarities and differences of the markets we are operating in. The end result will be a stronger offering for our members and a closer relationship with our key partners.

Of course, there is also much to be learned and shared across Scotland and we work hard to link our member organisations together through a range of opportunities from networks, learning journeys and one-to-one mentoring programmes.

This culminates with a very important event later this month.

On 16 June, we will be showcasing Excellence across Scotland at our annual Scottish Awards for Business Excellence at the Radisson Blu in Glasgow. An audience of around 250 people from the length and breadth of Scotland – and all with a clear focus on the value of excellence within their organisation – will be in attendance. I very much believe that Quality Scotland has a key role as a facilitator, to bring organisations and opportunities together to further our vision of “making excellence a national characteristic of Scotland”.

Just as important, we need to continue our work fostering links across Europe within the European Business Excellence Network. This will help to further inspire our members to participate in a wide and varied programme that helps drive this whole agenda of continuous business improvement regardless of company size and stature.

It is also important for us to be welcoming our European partners to Scotland to see first-hand what our members are achieving. By working together and looking beyond Scotland, we can all learn a great deal that will only enhance both our own personal development and deliver increased levels of performance across Scottish organisations.

We cannot allow ourselves to be restricted by lack of aspiration, when what we are seeing is inspiration from other organisations in Europe. Learning from others is one of our most important journeys and we need to embrace these opportunities wholeheartedly and put into practice what others can teach us, to make us a smarter, leaner country for continuous improvement practice and the well-being of the partners we engage with.

• Claire Ford is chief executive officer of Quality Scotland
www.qualityscotland.co.uk

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