Monday, 18 March 2013

Excellence – Walking the Talk

You know one of the most common words I hear banded about when I’m talking with consultants and when I’m consulting myself in organisations is the word ‘excellence’. And invariably people say that they want it or that they would like to see more of it. But what I don’t hear so often is people talking about how they would ensure that within their own organisation and within their own practice they would make certain that their excellence was consistently being achieved. That I think is rather more challenging and in a way excellence is a bit like charity, you know, it begins at home. 

So it is all very well talking about achieving an excellent product or an excellent service but who’s to say it is excellent and would you be willing to submit yourself to the scrutiny of assessors who would determine on a comparative basis how excellent is your excellence? This was a process that many years ago set us thinking about how we might ensure that we really did walk our talk. I am mindful of this today especially because a little why ago I had a call from the ITS office telling us that for the 9th consecutive year we have just been awarded our IS0 9001 badge because of outstanding organisational excellence. What that means is that the ISO inspector has been on the premises for much of the day looking at the way we do things and determining do these work to the benefit of our clients and customers and do we have practices in place that ensure that pretty much whatever happens we have a consistent way of working which delivers. 

While we might like to think we do, the real test is when somebody from outside, who is passionate about this kind of excellence subjects us to scrutiny and tells us yay or nay. And actually here we are as I say for the ninth consecutive year, ITS has just been given a big thumbs up with compliments to the team regarding the quality of those processes and how they have improved over time and every year rather than us being told well you’re nearly there instead we pass with flying colours. There might be some little tweak that can be offered which is actually very valuable where we learn other processes which we can add to what we do.

So this set me thinking, much talk about excellence but I don’t know how many organisations are willing to subject themselves to this kind of scrutiny, to really do what it takes to say ‘Yes, we want to know’ and ‘Yes, we want the feedback’. It is only when you are willing to do that can you get an external view on ‘where are we?’ and ‘what might we do to enhance performance?’. So this is just by way of course congratulations to the team doing an absolutely outstanding job and frankly for doing it whilst carrying on with business as usual. It is now at the point where the structures are so robust that it is not some frantic last minute preparation before an examiner comes in, it is just a way of doing business. I think that there is a lesson here in terms of creating structures that allow excellence to just bubble forth and to be the norm.

So, another year and I have no doubt that we will be enjoying our tenth year, a year from now because we will be putting our minds to it and making sure that we don’t just talk about excellence we really do it. Congratulations to the team and all this in the hope that we can better serve those who are our clients and whose lives we seek to benefit by offering the kind of experiences that are part of the parcel of what makes us who we are.

Until the next time. 

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