My friend from the Australian Organisation for Quality – Michael W McLean, Managing Director, McLean Management Consultants Pty Limited brought to my attention the usefulness and fun of using Google Trends. Michael had compared the popularity of business excellence with a number of other improvement methodologies and techniques. His point was the relative lack of awareness or popularity of business excellence in comparison to other improvement approaches, in particular in comparison to ISO 9001. This was disappointing but no great surprise as it supported the findings of a study that COER undertook for SAI Global on the Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF) in 2007 (study shown here
) – this revealed that only 9.5% of senior managers/directors in Australia had heard of the ABEF and only 1.3% had used the ABEF to improve their performance over the last 5 years.
The graphs below are from my own comparisons using Google Trends. The first graph shows the popularity according to the number of searches for Benchmarking, Best Practices, Business Excellence and Innovation. These topics are the areas of expertise for my organisation, the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER)
. The graph shows the popularity of these approaches over 5 years from a worldwide perspective and only including results of searches of a “business and industrial” nature rather than on “games” or “sport” for example.
The graph shows clearly that innovation is the most popular search item, approximately four times as popular as searches for best practices and benchmarking. Business excellence is a 1/100th as popular as innovation. (Note the numbers on the left hand axis represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Likewise a score of 0 means the term was less than 1% as popular as the peak).
The second graph shows the popularity according to the number of searches for Benchmarking, Lean manufacturing, ISO 9001, Innovation and ISO 14001. This graph reveals that Innovation is the most popular topic with ISO 9001 second (at 50% popularity), Benchmarking third, ISO 14001 fourth, and Lean manufacturing last.
The third and final graph shows the popularity according to the number of searches for Benchmarking, Six Sigma, Balanced Scorecard, Innovation and Knowledge Management. This graph reveals that Innovation is again the most popular topic with Six Sigma second (at 50% popularity), Benchmarking third, Knowledge Management fourth and Balanced Scorecard last.
These searches reflect the interests of business people around the world and therefore should be taken seriously. Innovation can be seen as the hot topic over the last 5 years and yet systems/approaches/methodologies to help organisations become more innovative are still in their infancy. Those of us that understand business excellence will recognise that business excellence models have innovation integrated into the model criteria and yet the models are relatively unknown and unused. This presents an opportunity for the administrators and promoters of business excellence to leverage off the interest in innovation to offer their holistic business excellence model as a guide to building innovative organisations.
This article was written by Dr Robin Mann, Head of the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, NZ.
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