Adding Value for Consultants with Organizational Excellence 
© 2018 CMC Today and Dawn Ringrose, FCMC

There are some strong parallels between the management consulting body of knowledge and organizational excellence. But there are a few gaps too. Knowing more about organizational excellence can help management consultants add value to client assignments and work with leaders to improve organizational performance. This knowledge can even help them identify new business opportunities as well.

Body of Knowledge for Management Consulting and Organizational Excellence
As Certified Management Consultants (CMC), we have training in six functional areas, follow a professional code of conduct and use a strategic approach in our work with client organizations. In the following table, these six functional areas are listed alongside the key management areas of an excellence model. 

Table 1. Comparison Between the CMC-BOK and an Excellence Model

CMC BOK – Functional Areas EXCELLENCE MODELS – Key Management Areas
Strategy  Governance
Financial Leadership
Marketing Planning
Human Resources Customers
Information Technology Employees
Production/Operations Work Processes
  Suppliers & Partners
  Resource Management
  Continuous Improvement & Performance Measurement

Using a strategic approach, consultants seek to understand the strategy and mandate of the client organization. What are the vision, mission and core values? Where is the organization today and where does it want to be in the future? What are the internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats? Such an understanding enables the consultant to work with the client toward a common aim and to address issues and achieve desired outcomes.

Particularly helpful to assessing the organization’s current state is the diagnostic provided by an excellence model. Excellence models are comprised of the principles and best management practices that are common to high performing organizations and include a balanced system of measurement. The principles describe the culture of excellence or way people work together. The best management practices fall under key management areas. And the balanced system of measurement provides a read on how the organization is performing by key management area and for the organization as a whole. 

One of the most powerful aspects of using an excellence model as a diagnostic is the interrelationships between the principles and best management practices and between the best management practices themselves. For example, if the organization has a challenge with:

  • any principle related to the culture of excellence, the consultant can examine the best management practices directly related to the principle
  • a particular key management area, the consultant can examine the best management practices related to the area
  • a particular best management practice, the consultant can examine the practice in more detail and the other practices directly related to it

This table provides a high level snapshot of these interrelationships

Gaps in Education and Training Programs
In my 34 years of consulting, I have not come across too many issues with client organizations across industry sectors that cannot be addressed by an excellence model. 

Surprisingly, I stumbled upon excellence models back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when the models were being developed (i.e. EFQM, Baldrige, Canadian Framework for Excellence, Australian Business Excellence Framework). When I learned more about excellence models the stars aligned. Here was a system of interrelated and interconnected best management practices that when successfully implemented would contribute to building a culture committed to excellence and improving organizational performance across a balanced system of measurement!
Having earned an MBA degree and a CMC designation, most of the information was familiar to me. But I did notice some gaps in the foregoing educational and professional development programs. These gaps included important learnings such as:

  • systems thinking
  • plan-do-study-act cycle
  • common versus special variation
  • the cost of quality
  • the business case for employee health and wellness
  • research validating the models 

Adding Value for Consultants and their Clients
Over my career, knowledge about organizational excellence has provided incredible value to my work as a management consultant and as a corporate trainer. And I believe it is important to share this knowledge with my professional counterparts so they can benefit as well. After all, if we are all well versed in the subject matter, we can deliver a higher level of service to our clients and clearly demonstrate the results of our work.
If you are interested in learning more about excellence models, I have written a publication entitled the Organizational Excellence Framework (Dawn Ringrose, 2010). The publication is unique in that it integrates the leading global excellence models and provides implementation guidelines for the user. In essence, the publication shares “what we know in organizational excellence’ with ‘how we implement it in management consulting’.  

Figure 1. Organizational Excellence Framework (© Dawn Ringrose, 2010)

Please feel free to download a copy of the Organizational Excellence Framework (OEF) publication at no charge on the home page  and reach out for information about the accompanying toolkit. The toolkit has been designed so that it aligns with an organization’s excellence journey or the management consultant’s business process (i.e. identify work, do work achieve results, earn follow-on work).
If you are wondering about currency, the publication is regularly updated when there are significant changes to leading excellence models.

Ground Breaking Global Research Study
One of the tools in the OEF toolkit is being used to do a ground breaking research study that will provide benefits for the consulting community and the working population at large. 

On March 31, 2015, the Organizational Excellence Technical Committee QMD, ASQ (OETC) launched the ‘first global assessment on the current state of organizational excellence. This research has been supported by the Global Benchmarking Network, ISO Technical Committee 176 and the International Academy of Quality. The project is intended to provide data on the extent to which organizations are characterized by the principles and the best management practices of high performing organizations that are found in excellence models.

Over 20 years of global research has validated the positive relationship between implementing an excellence model and developing a culture committed to excellence and improving organizational performance. However, much of this research has focused on the organizations that have successfully applied excellence models and earned national excellence awards. This particular research project is more robust in that it aims to gather data from a more varied population:

  • Leadership and management personnel (two to three people per organization)
  • Different size organizations (micro, small, medium, large)
  • Different types of organizations (government, business, non-profit)
  • 233 countries (or major regions)
  • 21 industry sectors (International Standard Industrial Classification)
  • Organizations with and without awareness of excellence models

With enough respondents, the aggregate findings will provide a snapshot of the current state of organizational excellence around the world - the extent to which organizations have a culture that is committed to excellence and have deployed best management practices by key management area. And these aggregate results will be presented by organization size, industry sector and country.

The aggregate findings are intended to provide far reaching benefits:

  • Encouraging organizations to use validated best management practices found in excellence models
  • Providing dashboard results to show aggregate ratings on principles and best management practices by organization size, industry sector and country
  • Sharing aggregate results on the open LinkedIn site for the OETC  
  • Encouraging organizations to benchmark their performance with others
  • Envisioning that organizations improving their performance will ultimately make a positive contribution to a local economy, trade and resident quality of life and thereby:
    • Enable all countries to participate, in a more competitive and sustainable way in the global economy
    • Make the world a better place for future generations

Assessment Tool
The automated assessment and reporting tool that is part of the Organizational Excellence Framework toolkit is being to do the research project. This tool is powered by a state-of-the–art technological platform at that: 

  • shares principles and practices to rate using a five and four point scale respectively
  • allows the respondent to obtain more information by holding their cursor over the item in question
  • captures the self-assessment ratings and open ended comments
  • aggregates the data for further analysis
  • prepares real time dashboards

There are two assessments for respondents to choose from:
1.    The Teaser Assessment on the principles takes 5 minutes to complete and delivers a free feedback report to the respondent’s inbox
2.    The Full Assessment on the principles and best management practices takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, depending on organization size, and can be used to benchmark with others
Individual organization data will be held in strict confidence and only aggregate data will be reported.

Volunteer Commitment
Organizational Excellence Specialists Inc has agreed to conduct this research project on a volunteer basis and has recruited a talented team of researchers from around the world to work on the project . At this point in time there are about 30 professionals on the core research team and over 70 professionals on the support team. All team members will be recognized as contributors in the final report.

Presentations on the Interim Results
Over the course of the past 2.5 years, presentations on the interim results of this study have been made at international conferences in Canada, China, India, Philippines, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates. The next presentation will take place at the World Conference on Quality & Improvement that will be held in Seattle, Washington, United States from April 30 to May 2, 2018.

For those interested, there is a link to the real time results of the study at 

There is always the WIIFM question looming isn’t there? What’s In It For Me? 
Well, there is a very direct linkage. Let’s connect the dots.

If you examine the real time results of the study, you will see the extent to which organizations have a culture that is committed to excellence and have deployed best management practices by key management area. We already notice some trends in the aggregate data where organizations are doing well and where they might need some assistance. It is the latter circumstance that provides an opportunity for consultants, particularly those with an organizational excellence background - to assist with consulting, training and coaching services. 

And of course, you may wish to be more directly involved. If so, please reach out and contact me. We can always use more professionals on the research team to help develop the inaugural Global OE Index! And more professionals on the licensed team to help organizations improve performance!

About the Author
Dawn Ringrose MBA, FCMC is Principal of Organizational Excellence Specialists and Author of the Organizational Excellence Framework and accompanying toolkit: scenario games, workshops, automated assessment and reporting tool, train-the-trainer program.  Her qualifications include: Masters of Business Administration, Certified Organizational Excellence Specialist, Certified Excellence Professional, Registered ISO 9000 Specialist, Assessor of Quality Systems. She has worked in the area of organizational excellence since 1990 and several clients have earned national excellence awards. 

Dawn is currently the representative for Canada on the Organizational Excellence Technical Committee (QMD, ASQ) and Global Benchmarking Network and is Chair of the Canadian ISO Committee that is preparing guidelines to implement an excellence model and related ISO standards. She has spoken at international conferences and published in international journals such as Springer International where she authored a Chapter on Organizational Excellence for the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy and Governance. Email