BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS Public Sector Again Outshines Private

Consistency, alignment, strong leadership, good communication and focus on business excellence are the attributes that made the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) winner in this year’s New Zealand Business Excellence Awards.
It was one of two organisations to earn silver level “achievement” awards in field again largely dominated by public sector organisations. The exception is insurance company Vero, formerly the general insurance arm of Royal & SunAlliance and now part of the Promina Group.
Vero also earned silver for what the judges described as “clear vision to be world class” through an integrated business excellence approach, strong culture of valuing people, very good communications strategies and excellence in its core business activities.
Six applicants this year put themselves through the business equivalent of Olympic training by applying to be judged against the demanding American originated and internationally recognised Baldrige criteria for best practice. Businesses are assessed on seven categories including leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, measurement, analysis and knowledge management, human resources, process management and business results.
Vero chief executive Roger Bell says the feedback report that comes with the process is just as important as the external recognition that comes with winning. “This will enable us to clearly identify the things we need to do to achieve our vision.”
In the long term, says Bell, it is less about awards and more about pursuing “an internationally competitive level of business performance which will drive us to deliver world-class levels of customer service and ensure our future sustainability”.
Hutt City Council is another organisation that will be using feedback from the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation’s evaluation process to find opportunities to further improve its performance. The Council achieved “bronze” commendation level, improving on last year’s “progress” award and, according to the judges, is making excellent progress in its quest to be world class.
Judges’ comments highlighted the organisation’s well-developed sense of customer needs, impressive financial results, strong focus on people and their development, and “very good flexibility and agility for local authority”.
Hamilton City Council is another local body that is making progress with its commitment to business excellence. It picked up “progress” award for the quality of its application, commitment of the management team and “very good business improvement processes”.
Also in the early stages of the world-class journey is the Wellington Free Ambulance, an incorporated society that provides the only free metropolitan ambulance service in the Southern Hemisphere. It has been using the Baldrige Performance Excellence framework as an organisational improvement tool since 2002, primarily for self-assessment.
Public sector organisations have, at least in recent years, been better represented in the awards than companies from the private sector, says NZBEF chief executive Mike Watson.
“Public sector organisations are increasingly adopting best practice and looking to international benchmarks to lift their performance. But for ACC to step up and win at this very high level is just great,” he added.
“It’s particularly encouraging to see government organisation of this size coming through so strongly. It could serve as wakeup call to other government agencies.”

* For more information contact: Mike Watson at New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation. 0-9-270 5165, [email protected] or nzbef.org.nz

2004 New Zealand Business Excellence Award Winners
Business Excellence Achievement Award – Silver Level
* Accident Compensation Commission – Achievement (Silver)
ACC Healthwise division previously earned Progress Award (2002) and served as pilot for the whole organisation.
Judges’ comment: “A strong focus on business excellence.”

• Vero Insurance – Achievement (Silver)
Judges’ comment: “A clear vision to be world class.”

Business Excellence Commendation Award – Bronze Level
• Hutt City Council – Commendation (Bronze)
Judges’ comment: “A progress award winner last year and making excellent progress. very solid Commendation Award with scoring toward the top of the band.”

Business Excellence Progress Award – Recognition of Progress
• Hamilton City Council – “Progress Award” – 1st time applicant
Judges’ comment: “An organisation committed to Business Excellence and making very good progress. Many good approaches that only require time to mature and yield results.”

• Wellington Free Ambulance – Progress Award – 1st time applicant
Judges’ comment: “At early stages, but demonstrating commitment to Business Excellence and making good progress.”

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