Sustainability offers entrepreneurs significant opportunities. Improving the world can easily be wrapped in a commercial jacket. But does sustainable enterprise automatically lead to a sustainable society? That is not apparent, unfortunately. But what is more important: company or society?
The EFQM Excellence Model helps organisations to analyse and optimise their business processes. In 25 years thousands of companies have started to apply this method, as they strive for excellent performance. That also means: keeping an eye on society. It is not without good reason that ‘Creating a Sustainable Future’ is one of the Fundamental Concepts for the EFQM Excellence Model.
Anno 2015 within the EFQM community there still are discussions about the question of how society results can be embedded. An update of the model has been moved from 2016 to 2018, the discussion continues. There are basically two camps. The largest group takes sustainable excellence as the starting point: optimise sustainable business processes, because that leads to sustainable business results and that is good for society. That seems logical, but is it really? Who can guarantee that all stakeholders – including the planet – are then equally important? Improve4all stands for a different course.
If we want to raise the quality of Europe Inc., then, instead of taking the excellent organisation as starting point, we should begin with an excellent society. So not: ‘We are a successful organisation because we contribute to the society’. Rather: ‘We contribute to a better world, because we are a successful organisation’. Society is then no longer the means but rather the end.
What does that mean in EFQM terms? The current model assumes a balance between results for Customers (criteria 6), Employees (criteria 7) and Society (criteria 8). The right balance leads to sustainable Business Results (criteria 9). The disadvantage of this: the interests of the organisation are always central. This has to change: Customers + Employees + Business Results = Society Results. The excellent society as the overall goal, that’s what it’s about.
There’s a long way to go to the new model, but there’s a great challenge in the pipeline for the EFQM community. EFQM started as a pioneer, to cut the path towards more quality and therefore more competitive power. It is time to lead the way again, to change course. It won’t happen automatically, it requires vision, determination, but it is necessary to continue to be an inspiration. The future waits for no one.
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