Pursue excellence if you want to succeed

Awards salute organisations which go the extra mile, says Ann Pike

Keynote speaker, Olympic Gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE. Picture: Twitter
Keynote speaker, Olympic Gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE. Picture: Twitter
Keynote speaker, Olympic Gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE. Picture: Twitter

Last week, the Scottish Awards for Business Excellence took place in Glasgow before an audience of 300, at a gala lunch organised by Quality Scotland hosted by radio and TV presenter Cat Cubie, with keynote speaker Olympic Gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE.

This annual event shines the spotlight on those private, public and third-sector organisations, which in the past year have demonstrated a profound ability to pursue an ‘excellence’ agenda. That is, the ones that constantly strive to make improvements and ‘operational’ changes to their working practices to shape their organisation for the better and whose “mantra” is a never-ending quest to deliver continuous improvement and pursue excellence.

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The awards pay homage to organisations that have vision – progressive in every sense of the word, with aspirations to inspire, nurture and motivate through external assessment, thereby enhancing performance across the business.

Individuals too are recognised in categories such as The Leadership Award, Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ambassador for Excellence Award. These categories confirm that business excellence starts from a management visionary.

On their independent, external assessment, all of this year’s recipient organisations demonstrated that they have a clearly defined strategy with a focus on learning and training to ensure that quality, business improvement and excellence pervades their organisation.

Committed to Excellence (C2E), based on the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model helps businesses and organisations deliver results through a series of improvement projects.

One prime example is Forth Sector, a social enterprise supporting people with disabilities into employment. Following a £3 million investment, the organisation has relocated and has been re-engineered to meet the considerable challenges it faces. During the change process it recognised that building quality into the business model was essential.

Achieving C2E has enabled Forth Sector to better understand challenges and develop intelligent, considered responses in terms of management and processes and to recognise the impact its activities have on people, its community and the environment.

Chief executive Mike Finlayson said it was not a “tick box” exercise but had been a practical tool to effect demonstrable changes in behaviour and thinking. He recommends the process to other third-sector organisations and suggests it may well prove critical to a group’s survival in these challenging times.

In total 25 organisations were awarded C2E level in this year’s awards including Quality Scotland itself which along with Kibble, achieved the Committed to Excellence 2* level of excellence accreditation .

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Moreover, organisations achieving C2E status aspire to become ‘Recognised for Excellence’ (R4E). This EFQM level of accreditation, provides recognition over a longer term that these organisations stand out as prime examples of how commitment to sustaining business excellence can bring about transformational change to continuously improve the quality of its service.

Craigdale Housing Association, based in Castlemilk, Glasgow has R4E accreditation. Customers have benefited greatly as the organisation improved its structure plans.

The association’s chief executive officer, Liz McGinnis, said: “Other organisations ask how we achieve such excellent key performance indicators and levels of satisfaction from our tenants, so not only do our customers see the difference, but other housing associations are asking us for assistance.”

Within our organisation, people are more motivated and enthusiastic about our excellence journey and keen to work with the group. Committee members and staff benefit from continual training, networking and sharing of information.

Those who embrace a programme of continuous improvement and pursue a vision of excellence, appear better equipped than most to succeed.

• Ann Pike is business development director at Quality Scotland www.qualityscotlandco.uk