The article below describes the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER)’s research on “Organisational Excellence Architecture”– the ingredients required to help organisations on the journey to business excellence. We are inviting Business Excellence Award Winners and Applicants to participate in this exciting research project and benefit from the research findings. If you are interested, please send me an email, and I will send you further details.

Atif Baig, Research Associate, COER, Massey University

Organisational Excellence Architecture (OEA) – The concept that each Business Excellence practising organisation should know to attain an accelerated BE journey.

This article introduces a novel concept of Organisational Excellence Architecture (OEA) requisite to implement Business Excellence (BE). OEA refers to the formal structure used to assist in the implementation of BE within an organisation. This support structure may consist of roles/responsibilities, resources, processes, assessment tools and rewards and recognition system that organisations put in place to implement and accelerate BE journey. To further investigate the components and importance of OEA in accelerating BE journey, a new PhD research project has been initiated by the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER) and Massey University, New Zealand. The outcome of the study will guide BE practicing organisations on ‘how to’ implement and fast-track their BE journey in a cost and time-efficient way. Participating organisations will contribute to this research by completing an online survey, followed by an optional structured interview. All participants will get a detailed report of this study which will help them to reflect on their existing OEA and to learn from the best practices on the successful implementation of BE. This research has support and approval of the Global Excellence Models (GEM) Council and Global Benchmarking Network (GBN).

Agility, innovation, continuous improvement, and sustainable competitiveness are among the most used buzzwords of today’s corporate world. Organisations, irrespective of their size, nature of business, geographical location, eagerly wish to embed these superior traits in their organisation’s DNA. Additionally, due to severe competition in all aspects of business activity, organisations are compelled to continuously improve their processes, products, and services to survive and lead in markets where they operate. In other words, these deliberate leadership efforts to become the best in all organisational activities is business excellence (BE). Excellence is defined by the Global Excellence Model (GEM) Council as the ‘continuous improvement of outcomes to all stakeholders’.

BE practices provide organisations with structured guidance that enable them to assess their competitive strengths, derive and deploy their strategic plans and most importantly, identify opportunities to learn. Furthermore, as a management practice, BE helps organisations in developing and strengthening their overall management systems continually for sustainable performance and ultimately create value for stakeholders. BE models (BEMs) were introduced in the late 1980s and serves as a platform to define, develop, assess and achieve strategic objectives. BEMs such as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA), European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF) and their corresponding national awards provides a robust leadership and management system. BEMs help organisations to pursue Excellence and provide a platform to quantify and measure Excellence maturity. BE maturity can be explained as a state of a BE journey where organisations successfully embed Excellence in the organisations’ culture. A BE journey starts with an organisation’s informed decision towards quality and making firm commitments for Excellence. At the moment, there are 67 national quality awards (NQAs) used in 56 countries across the world.

Business Excellence Models and their significance
In the last three decades, BEMs and awards have contributed significantly to organisational performance. Key benefits of adopting any BEM includes; reputation, good governance, sustainability and profitability. BEM’s success, however, depends on how organisations implement their BE ambitions and integrate ‘continuous improvement’ and agile thinking in their organisational systems. Additionally, implementation of BE is dependent on the strategic and logistical design of the organisation, and therefore, without holistically considering these factors, achieving the required objectives would be difficult. Some of these factors would involve internal structure settings such as: setting up BE improvement teams or steering committees; internal processes including communication process on BE related activities, undertaking BE assessments and conducting regular staff training. Consequently, these initiatives lead towards achieving BE maturity.

Current state of BE implementation research and potential limitations
A comprehensive literature review was conducted to comprehend existing research and practices to support successful BE implementation. This review revealed that there is a significant scholarly focus on BE philosophy, BEMs’ history and evolution, BE application within different sectors and BE’s impact on organisational performance. However, surprisingly, no research was found that specifically investigated ‘how’ organisations implement and achieve BE maturity. Similarly, a review of BE award winners’ applications revealed sparse information on how BE was implemented with most award applications silent on organisational support structures and allocated resources to facilitate BE activities. These award applications were ambiguous on critical processes such as self-assessments, internal communication and reward and recognition schemes to encourage sustainable BE.
In summary, there is a significant research gap concerning the optimum organisational excellence architecture to implement and embed a sustainable BE culture.

Unpacking OEA – An Overview of the Research Project
The Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER), Massey University, New Zealand, has recently initiated an exciting research project on successful BE implementation. This research introduces a novel concept of organisational excellence architecture. OEA can be defined as the formal support structure used to implement BE within an organisation. The research aim is to investigate an optimum organisational infrastructure such as resources, internal supporting structure, processes and level assessment tools required to facilitate and accelerate the excellence journey to achieve maturity and a sustainable BE culture within the organisation. This study is an extension of COER’s existing research called “Excellence Without Borders (EWB)” and aims to examine global BE practices from an implementation perspective.

The main objectives of the proposed research are:

  1. To define organisational excellence architecture (OEA) required to achieve business excellence at different stages of excellence journey.
  2. To identify components of OEA.
  3. To establish if OEA is dependent on certain factors such as BE maturity, industry, size, sector, and urgency to implement BE.
  4. To develop a ‘how-to’ guide on OEA for each stage of the excellence journey.

Research Design
The research design for this project involves an intensive literature review, analysis of BE award winners’ submission reports, online surveys and (optional) structured interviews to develop a conceptual model of OEA. The online survey and structured interviews will help to understand the importance and current state of OEA from the participating BE organisations. Considering the high practical relevance of this research project, the GEM Council (which consists of organisations that are recognised globally as the guardians of premier excellence models and award processes), Global Benchmarking Network and New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation (NZBEF) has already approved and supporting the proposed project.

Invitation to participate in the research:
Organisations that have reached a high level of maturity with regards to business excellence (award applicants and winners) are invited to participate through completing the survey with an optional opportunity to participate in follow-up structured interviews. The survey will introduce OEA to the participants and obtain feedback on their respective OEA to drive a BE agenda within their organisations. The study will be launched in November 2020 with an online survey.

Key benefits for participating organisations:

  1. Answering the survey questions will help organisations to reflect on their existing BE approach and assess the effectiveness of their respective BE structure.
  2. All participating organisations will receive a report of the survey findings enabling them to learn from best practices on how to introduce and accelerate their BE journey.

How to participate in this research?
If your organisation is following BE practices and at a high level of maturity (award applicants and winners), please join and participate in this research. Please email your interest and any questions to Atif Baig at, we will contact you accordingly.

Atif Baig is a Research Associate at the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER), Massey University, New Zealand. He is currently doing his PhD and investigating BE models from an implementation viewpoint. The research team includes Dr Robin Mann, Head – COER, Dr James Lockhart and Dr Wayne Macpherson, Massey University, New Zealand.

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