Wednesday, 17 August 2011

If EFQM is the Answer, What's the Question?

This short blog is inspired (?) by a client request for a paper on the benefits of using the EFQM Excellence Model. It's a request I've heard many times over the years, usually to influence senior managers, and one that worries me because it may not be the right question.

For comparison, would you go to your GP and ask him/her to sell you the benefits of the latest patent medicine? The EFQM model is a tool, a very flexible and powerful one, but it isn't a universal panacea and will only help when the organisation knows what it wants to achieve by using it. In a commercial context this may be fairly straightforward (the bottom line), whilst public or third sector organisations often find it more difficult to be clear about how they balance stakeholder priorities.

But this context is important, otherwise "the answer is 42". Sadly, I've seen many organisations dive into EFQM self-assessment with vague aspirations and unclear objectives, only to be disappointed when the Model fails to deliver a miracle.

The question I would like to hear is something like "in order to achieve X we need to improve Y. How can the EFQM Excellence Model help us to do this?" This should lead to a sensible conversation that can be summarised by reference to the RADAR® concept linked to the Model itself:

Approached in this way, the Model can be properly integrated with strategic planning rather than falling into the trap of being seen as 'another thing to do'.

Check my web site at for more information and ideas.