INTOUCH : Best small-nation navy

The Royal New Zealand Navy can officially call itself world-class organisation after gaining gold in the New Zealand Business Excellence Awards.
It is the first navy in the world and only the third organisation in New Zealand to achieve rating that benchmarks it as equal to the best worldwide in terms of organisational performance. The award was presented by Governor-General, the Hon Sir Anaand Satyanand, at recent gala luncheon in Auckland which celebrated four other organisations that are well on their way in the business excellence journey.
The Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the NZ Fire Service both earned Silver Award, while the Saint Clair Family Estate and Recreational Services both achieved NZ Business Achievement Awards.
The awards are administered by the NZ Business Excellence Foundation whose CEO Mike Watson says they are unique in being the only ones that are based on an international criteria and scoring system. “Those who decide to embark on the process go through rigorous four-stage assessment process based on the internationally respected US Baldrige criteria. It’s demanding process and over the past 13 years in New Zealand only two other gold level awards have been presented – to Vero Insurance (2008) and NZ Aluminium Smelters (2007).”
The RNZN started on its on excellence journey more than 10 years ago and this was its fourth evaluation after earning bronze in both 2001 and 2003, and silver in 2006. It reflects what has been journey of continuous improvement and cultural change, says chief of Navy, rear admiral Tony Parr.
“Operational excellence in the delivery of maritime military capability is our ultimate goal, but we know that we can only achieve this if we have excellent business processes to keep our ships at sea and our people trained, competent and motivated to provide for it.”
Improving productivity and delivering value for money is essential to the Navy’s operations, says Parr.
“To support high operational tempo within tight budgets we had to focus on continuous improvement in technology, business processes and the training and employment of our people. As result of this work we have achieved significant increase in the number of days ships are spending at sea. We are now twice as productive for every person at sea as we were 10 years ago.”
In the 10 years of involvement with business excellence awards, Navy staff have worked very hard to understand its business in the context of the Baldrige Criteria and to be disciplined about its strategic direction, adds Parr.
“Our vision is to be the best small nation navy in the world. This award is step in that process, not the end point. We’ll celebrate our success and then focus on the next challenge.”
Earning Silver has reaffirmed NZ Fire Service’s senior leadership commitment to business excellence as means to ensure the service continues to be the very best it can be. It committed to excellence in 2001 and first submitted itself for formal assessment in 2005, earning bronze. The goal for 2009, according to director of strategic projects Russell Wood, was to “significantly improve on our previous result and to receive quality feedback report that will enable us to agree and prioritise those areas requiring improvement”.
The Western Bay of Plenty District Council has been chipping away at the process for around six years. As CEO Glenn Snelgrove says – it’s very customer-
centric process.
“The business excellence journey has been about ensuring every system, process and activity of our business directly aligns with meeting the needs of our customers. For this approach to be endorsed as international best practice means we’ll be well placed to meet the ongoing challenges associated with serving one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing areas.”
The NZ Business Achievement Awards are based on abridged criteria but still exact tough performance standards, says Watson, who described the two winners as “coming out of the woodwork to totally blitz it”.
Saint Clair is internationally recognised as leading wine producer and has won 80 trophies in the past eight years. This award recognised quality not just in the wine but in the whole business, says managing director Neal Ibbotson.
“Entering has required complete team effort over long period of time. To be able to grow in size whilst remaining focused on maintaining and improving our business as well as the quality of the wines is an amazing team achievement.”
For Recreational Services, which provides specialist management and maintenance of parks, turf and facilities across New Zealand, the award represents comprehensive recognition of performance levels across the business as whole. “The level of effort that has gone into this award was immense and should not be under-estimated.”
Mike Watson says there’s growing interest in the business excellence process – particularly in the public service.
“They know they have to lift productivity and this is an internationally proven methodology for improving performance. There is also more awareness about how it aligns with other models such as Six Sigma, Lean and Balanced Scorecard – these are all part and parcel of the Baldrige framework.”
With lot more government agencies joining up, there is an opportunity for them to benchmark against each other, says Watson.
“That would be huge shift but number of ministers are now looking to focus on business excellence – it’s starting to gain some traction.”

Visited 4 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window