This might be controversial but I’m not sure that any of the excellence awards have really helped promote the concepts of excellence, as was originally intended. Why? Well, having been involved in various roles in a number of different award schemes since the turn of the century, it saddens me to say this but when was the last time a globally recognized organization won one? And I mean the WHOLE organization, not just a plant or business unit.

We all have our own views about which organizations are “excellent” but do we see them appearing in the lists of Excellence Award Winners? In the vast majority of the Excellence Awards out there, it’s not THE most excellent organization in the country/region/world that wins – it’s the best out of the people who applied. And the number of organizations that apply has been dropping steadily since the “golden years” at the end of the last century.

Excellence Award

Of those that do apply, it’s more often than not a small part of a large, global company – an “artificial entity”. The assessors are looking at their achievements within the achievements of the parent. A sub-set of the results.

I’ve been lucky enough to take part in Global Assessments; looking at the whole organization, starting with their global strategy (what they want to achieve) and their existing annual reporting (what they have achieved so far). Using the current award schemes, such an assessment is a massive undertaking, both for the applicant and the assessors… which is why so few companies try to do it.

But does it have to be this way? I don’t think so. The real benefit of any assessment comes from focusing on what really matters to the organisation – their strategic goals and how they have set about achieving them. Focusing the assessment around these key strategies, rather than “ticking all the boxes in the Model”, reduces the workload for all involved AND provides value-adding feedback for the Management Team. The trick, as always, it’s to avoid getting lost in the details… it’s easier to assess everything, stick to the script, than plan and execute a truly strategic assessment. But this is about excellence; it’s not supposed to be easy!

If we want an Excellence Award that really recognizes the best in the world, we need a completely new approach. It’s time for some new thinking…