The EFQM community is built around the theme ‘share what works'. And so members gather every year to share knowledge during the EFQM Forum. The 2013 edition took place in Vienna and the central question was: what is the future of excellence?
One of the keynote speakers at this knowledge rich meeting was Marc Amblard, CEO of EFQM. Amblard looks at the future with confidence, provided it is based on the past: ‘The Fundamental Concepts of the EFQM Excellence Model are still applicable today'. These principles formulated a quarter of a century ago, are still the best starting point. Amblard does stress the importance of agility, the ability to quickly respond to changing circumstances. Not an irrelevant comment, because after all, we live in a world that is constantly and rapidly changing. To stand still and do nothing is not an option.
But what are these 'changing circumstances' anyway? Lord Blair of Boughton, expert in business leadership, spoke out about the importance of ‘followship’: ‘For leadership you need teamwork. (…) In future we need transformational leadership. This is about doing the right things, it is about values, which show when you walk and talk what your values are. Best to forget leadership and work towards ‘followship’. This will happen when people feel that their contribution is valued.’
We are working in a pragmatic way to achieve sustainable excellence, but we are not there yet, says Vittorio Cesaroti, professor at the Roman University Tor Vergata. Cesaroti: ‘How the new generations are going to create value is still unclear. We need to think big, like the US, to find the solutions. In view of the future, instead of sharing what worked, EFQM and her members need to start sharing what will work.’
‘Thinking big' is important, but that does not mean sustainable excellence is only important for large companies. Because of their size SMEs are often relatively flexible and changes can be made quickly. A good example is the Alpine resort Schwarz, a medium size company from Austria. Schwarz has been named winner of the EFQM Excellence Award of 2013, because of the added value that the company generates for their customers through harnessing the talents of their employees.
Alpine Resort Schwarz shows that excellence is also achievable for SMEs. ‘Excellence is a do-it-yourself project and we need to explain to SMEs that this is not just for big companies’, said David Kelly, president of Quality Austria. His words corroborated with those of Hans Hoffman, commercial director at Robert Bosch: ‘We have to tell the SMEs that they can be even more successful, if they use the EFQM Excellence Model.’ On this point we can only agree.
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