Business Excellence

Business Excellence is often described as outstanding practices in managing the organization and achieving results, all based on a set of fundamental concepts or values.

These practices have evolved into models for how a world class organization should operate. These models have been developed and continue to evolve through extensive study of the practice and values of the world’s highest performing organizations.

Many countries have developed their own models and use these as frameworks to assess and recognize the performance of organizations through awards programs.

Since the 1990s there has been a general decline in award applications. However there has been an increasing trend for organizations to apply these models and integrate the principles and practice with their day-to-day operations thereby achieving the benefits business excellence brings. Find out more about who uses these models.

What are business excellence models?

Baldrige Model

Award Programs

Who uses business excellence/models?

How Organizations use Business Excellence Models

Benefits of Business Excellence Use

How Long Before I Can Expect Results?

Choosing a Self Assessment Method

What are business excellence models?
Business excellence models are frameworks that when applied within an organization can help to focus thought and action in a more systematic and structured way that should lead to increased performance. The models are holistic in that they focus upon all areas and dimensions of an organization, and in particular, factors that drive performance. These models are internationally recognized as both providing a framework to assist the adoption of business excellence principles, and an effective way of measuring how thoroughly this adoption has been incorporated.

Several business excellence models exist world-wide. While variations exist, these models are all remarkably similar. The most common include;

Baldrige (MBNQA) – Used in over 25 countries including US and NZ

European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) – Used throughout Europe

Singapore Quality Award Model – Singapore

Japan Quality Award Model – Japan

Canadian Business Excellence Model – Canada

Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF) – Australia

Baldrige Model
The most popular and influential model in the western world is the one launched by the US government called the Malcolm Baldrige Award Model (also commonly known as the Baldrige model, the Baldrige criteria, or The Criteria for Performance Excellence). More than 25 countries base their frameworks upon the Baldrige criteria.

The Baldrige model consists of practices that are incorporated into six Approach categories plus a Results category consisting of –


Strategic Planning

Customer and Market Focus

Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management

Workforce focus

Process Management

Business Results

The Baldrige Values include:

Visionary Leadership

Customer-Driven Excellence

Organizational and Personal Learning

Valuing Employees and Partners


Focus on the Future

Managing for Innovation

Management by Fact

Social Responsibility

Focus on Results and Creating Value

Systems Perspective

EFQM model

The EFQM model consists of six process enablers and one results category:


Policy and Strategy


Partnerships and Resources


Customer Results

People Results

Society Results

Key Performance Results

The fundamental concepts include:

Results orientation

Customer focus

Leadership and constancy of purpose

Management by processes and facts

People development and involvement

Continuous learning, innovation and improvement

Partnership development

Public responsibility

Award Programs
In general, business excellence models have been developed by national bodies as a basis for award programs. For most of these bodies, the awards themselves are secondary in importance to the wide-spread take up of the concepts of business excellence, which ultimately lead to improved national economic performance.

Often awards programs operate at a local, regional and national level to recognize and celebrate the achievement of all levels of organizational maturity. It is through these award programs that an organization can be assessed and justifiably claim to operate at World Class levels of performance. Awards are usually only given to those organizations that have been assessed as “excellent” through a rigorous awards process using independent teams of evaluators to assess award applicants.

It was recently estimated that there are at least 76 countries operating a business excellence award program at a national level.

Who uses business excellence / models?
Organizations across the world are using these business excellence models as a basis for continuous performance improvement.

In the US nearly two million copies of the Malcolm Baldrige Model have been distributed since the award’s launch in 1988, and this does not include copies that are available in books, state and local award programs, or those downloaded from the web.

In Europe alone the European Foundation for Quality Management believes that at least 30,000 organizations are using the EFQM model. The EFQM’s figure was based on the number of EFQM members, the members of its national partners, and those organizations that they know are using the model in their business.