Keeping quality high could be academic

A Quality Academy for Scottish businesses would enhance the offering to Scottish business. Picture: Craig Stephen

A Quality Academy for Scottish businesses would enhance the offering to Scottish business. Picture: Craig Stephen

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A new body would improve standards, says Dave Bradley

Should Scotland have a Quality Academy for Scottish Business? Before you decide, let me explain. Having spent more than 30 years working in businesses where quality was an integral part of the culture, I find the overarching principles of an organisation that delivers business results by using a quality approach are the same in 2015 as they were in the 1980s. Leaders still create the organisational cultures and values and this will decide if quality is important and, more critically, whether implementing a quality approach will work.

At a recent business meeting with a Quality Scotland member, we discussed the possible need for an Academy to help Scots businesses with advice on available quality management tools and techniques. Choosing the appropriate quality journey for their business would be based on the performance improvement required and be followed up by a programme to deliver the continuous improvement or desired outcome.

The European Foundation of Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model is based on a set of values first expressed in the European Convention on Human Rights (1953) and the European Social Charter (revised in 1996). This treaty is ratified by all member states of the Council of Europe and the principles are incorporated into national legislation.

The Fundamental Concepts of Excellence build on the foundation of these basic human rights, assuming they are universally applied are:

• Adding value for customers

• Creating a sustainable future

• Developing organisational capability

• Harnessing creativity and innovation

• Leading with vision, inspiration and integrity

• Managing with agility

• Succeeding through the talent of people

• Sustaining outstanding results

They outline the essential foundation for achieving sustainable excellence for any organisation, can be used as the basis to describe the attributes of an excellent organisational culture and serve as a common language for senior management.

Excellent organisations achieve and sustain outstanding levels of performance that meet or exceed expectations of all their stakeholders. In a post-referendum Scotland with greater powers and the government’s message of a greater role for private organisations in working with the public sector to deliver public services, quality will be at the forefront of private sector organisations to convince the public sector and communities they have the capacity and capability to provide the quality of service required. With the Scottish Government’s focus on a Social Justice Agenda for Scotland, it is worth noting that social justice runs through every important aspect of life including the way businesses are run. It is therefore right that businesses consider engaging with quality.

Scotland deserves to have a goal of “being recognised globally for excellence”, as historically we have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to provide excellent products and services. Thinking about it doesn’t make it happen. Only a commitment and a strong desire from the business community can. Embracing quality within your organisation, involving your partners and your supply chain would provide a strong foundation for achieving this goal in the future.

All well-run, productive and profitable organisations will express their quality credentials in different ways, whether it is through an overarching framework (eg EFQM) or a standard that evidences the quality in areas of the business.

A Quality Academy for Scottish businesses – a one-stop shop for all quality frameworks, standards, tools and techniques would enhance the offering to Scottish business in that they could identify the quality that will work for them. While there are numerous management tools and techniques commonly used in the pursuit of excellence they are all underpinned by the eight Fundamental Concepts of Excellence. By including Business Excellence, networks and best practise sharing would provide a formidable agenda for change. It is my intention to further this discussion by taking it to the Quality Scotland Parliamentary reception on 
24 February, where the motion will focus on continuous improvement within the private sector.

Dave Bradley is CEO of Quality Scotland

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