The world today seems to be changing significantly faster than ever before. In a year that brought us the demise of the seemingly immortal Encyclopædia Britannica (after 244 years in print), CERN announcing the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider, Voyager 1 on the edge of leaving the solar system, and Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner freefalling from the edge of space, one can wonder what the rest of the decade will bring.
At his keynote at the 2012 Canada Awards for Excellence, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and Patron of the Awards, said: “Today’s world presents immense challenges and opportunities for individuals, for organizations, and for entire nations. Our global society is defined by integration, by speed and by dynamism, thanks largely to the transformative communications revolution heralded by the rise of the Internet. We are at a major hinge point in our history.”
These dramatic changes are forcing organizations, both public and private, to change and adapt ever more rapidly. For example, significant technological change in the context of a still underperforming economy is setting up extraordinary pressures on how organizations need to operate. Organizations need to address these challenges and opportunities head on whilst recognizing the importance of the role of technology in a transforming workplace.
In the Nineteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada, the Clerk of the Privy Council reinforces the role that Organizational Excellence has to play: “To continue to achieve excellence across all our core functions – policy development, program and service delivery, regulation, and management – we must understand the requirements of the future and align our organizations to meet these needs.”
It is understood that government at all levels is facing budget cuts and striving to be more efficient and effective to meet increased expectations from clients and stakeholders. Hence, organizations need to make the most of existing resources, identify additional sources of funding, stimulate innovation, prioritize key programs and take advantage of key technology differentiators. The drive to ever greater efficiencies is echoed in the Treasury Board Red Tape Reduction Action Plan (October 2012): “Reducing red tape is one of the most important measures a government can take to support a flourishing and healthy business environment, which is the foundation for creating jobs and long-term prosperity.”
There are a number of organizational excellence techniques and tools available to managers to identify waste and improve management systems and processes just as there are organizations to help achieve levels of excellence and promote healthy workplace environments. However, from our perspective, relationships may be the single key factor to ensure that the business transformation is successful as strong relationships enable organizations to change and adapt at an ever faster pace by building trust, energizing teams and stimulating innovation.
On the new Excellence, Innovation and Wellness Standard of Excellence Canada, the Governor General commented: “We also know that the 21st century is being defined by a rising consciousness of the importance of relationships; and by a deepening realization that innovation and excellence are fundamentally about people.”
It is now clear that the key is not purely operational but relies on the development of the people within the organization.
If change is a constant, the specific challenges that organizations face in the areas of performance, productivity and employee and client satisfaction are continuously evolving. Organizational excellence remains the enduring solution for public sector entities by providing the skills and techniques and change in culture needed to face all types of challenges.
Is your organization ready to embark on its journey to organization excellence?
Stephen Davies is the executive director for Excellence Canada (NCR). Jean Tourigny is Chair of the Canadian Public Sector Quality Association. They are the co-chairs of the Ottawa Public Sector Quality Fair, Feb. 5, 2013, at the Canada Aviation & Space Museum.