'Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.' So said William Faulkner, American writer and Nobel Prize Laureate.
These are stirring words of wisdom for anyone contemplating their own personal development. However they also apply to organisations too.
It's all very well looking at what others are doing, and benchmarking certainly has its place; ultimately however it's all about what you're doing and how you could do it better. And doing what you do better has to be the only sensible choice in today's uncertain economic climate.
So if you're thinking of taking the first steps in your organisation's journey to excellence, EFQM Committed to Excellence is a great place to start. As part of the EFQM Levels of Excellence programme, it will help you introduce the EFQM Excellence Model to your organisation and enable you to generate the necessary momentum to start undertaking performance improvement activities.
However, before making plans to kick off your excellence journey, ask yourself this: does your organisation have what it takes?
The achievement of excellence needs to be something your organisation wants. You'll need to have everyone on board from senior executives right through to front-line staff.
Once you've got buy-in, excellence needs to be formally built into an organisation's long-term strategic objectives. It is a continuing journey that does not stop once a certain point has been reached. We can never stop improving! The Levels of Excellence programme recognises this, so certification is only valid for two years ensuring that it needs to be renewed.
Your organisation will also need a leader (or leaders) that can inspire it to improve its performance. An effective senior-level champion can make the difference between a successful journey to excellence and an indifferent one.
While not a huge burden, improvement initiatives require both staff and financial resource in order to implement them effectively. If your organisation has the motivation, the commitment and the leadership, then it needs to dedicate the right levels of resource to making it happen.
If you think your organisation is ready, then there's no better time than now for it to start trying to be better than itself.