The European and UK Quality Awards

These awards were established in 1991 and 1994 respectively. They have a common framework, shown below, against which panels of assessors judge applications. These are drawn up by aspiring organisations on the self-assessment principle, but are subject to rigorous on-site validation.

The purposes of these awards are to encourage and give public recognition to the development of excellence in adopting the principles of Total Quality Management.

The European/UK Quality Awards Business Excellence Model


Weaknesses in the approach are:

1. The inherent perils of self-assessment are present, ie lack of objectivity, common understanding of the criteria, opinions rule.

2. Applicants have to study the criteria in exhaustive detail – probably drawing on help from outside experts who don’t know the applicant’s business – in order to even begin the process of designing their application. Even then they are likely to set about change within the present system when it is usually this that needs to change.

3. The schematic layout illustrated here, with subordinate criteria against each of the nine main categories, encourages a compartmentalised approach, generating projects, when what business needs today more than ever is a systems approach, emphasising the critical importance of interactions across all functions and levels.

4. Bureaucratic load. To meet the stringent award criteria most applications run to 70 plus pages. Could this amount of effort not be better employed acting directly on system and processes?