BUSINESS EXCELLENCE : Aiming for Excellence – When navel gazing is not enough

It aims to be the ‘best small navy in the world” and with its recent award of ‘silver’ status in the New Zealand Business Excellence awards, the Royal New Zealand Navy is steadily steaming toward its goal. Like Hutt City Council – which became only the second local government authority in this country to achieve silver level – the RNZN has been navigating clear course through programme that benchmarks it against world-best standards for several years now.
Since adopting the Business Excellence framework in 1998, the Navy has pursued policy of testing itself against the standards every two years, picking up bronze commendation in both 2001 and 2004. It gained its silver lining with the highest score recorded in New Zealand since 1995 – 603 out of possible 1000 which is just 97 short of ‘world-class’ operational status.
Hutt City earned recognition for “progress” against the internationally recognised Baldrige criteria in 2003, following that up with bronze commendation the next year. It took two years’ hard work to raise the standard of its operation from bronze to silver, says the Council’s chief executive Rik Hart. “We now have the work ahead of us to go to the top Gold level. But I believe we have the people here to achieve the very highest.”
The market spread of this year’s award winners provides good demonstration of just how universally applicable the standards are – with the bronze award winners ranging from an Auckland-based recruiter to manufacturing facility in Matamata.
Kerridge & Partners is small-scale executive search consultancy that “embraces continuous improvement ethic” and whose founder Peter Kerridge has personal expertise in business excellence evaluation.
Metso Minerals (NZ) is part of global conglomerate whose activities embrace minerals processing, recycling and crushing and screening. Its New Zealand factory employs 70 people and exports 90 percent of its product. No newcomer to business excellence, it achieved progress award in 2001 before picking up bronze this year.
Metso business manager Keith Cooke says the company “very quickly saw the value of this framework in tying together previously separate activities and initiatives”.
The third bronze award winner is City Care, an asset management, maintenance and construction company owned by Christchurch City Council but operating throughout the country. It uses the Baldrige criteria for performance excellence to help it establish priorities for improving its business and the company’s management systems are audited against the criteria at least once year. The company employs 800 staff and has turnover of over $80 million.
In announcing this year’s winners, the chief executive of the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation Mike Watson said that benchmarking themselves against the best in the world is an important step for New Zealand businesses – but too few take the time necessary to do this.
“One of the pleasing things about this year’s award winners is that they have all made that commitment – and are all reaping the rewards.”
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