EFQM Model – General

The work of the Core Team in developing the new Model was aiming to change the position of EFQM and the Model in the marketplace. In Europe, the term “Excellence” is seen by many senior leaders as old-fashioned and any information would be passed to the Quality or Business Excellence Manager. The same happened with Total Quality Management (TQM) a number of years ago. We acknowledge that in some organisations, and in some parts of the world, the term “Excellence” is still used and we do not want anyone to change prematurely.

We are gradually taking the tagline ‘Leading Excellence’ off the materials. Anything produced for the Forum or since the Forum should only have the EFQM logo.

It is about being the best that you can be – the words may be different, but the sentiment is similar. We are using Outstanding instead of Global Role Model in RADAR as a result of the survey feedback

When the Model was first launched (Q4/1991), there were no written Fundamental Concepts because everyone who was involved in using the Model had a shared philosophy about how good organisations should be managed. The first version of the Fundamental Concepts, introduced in 1999, was a set of eight titles with supporting high level descriptions of the essence of the Concepts. In the subsequent years and further Model Developments the Concepts moved beyond simple high-level statements until we ended up with a duplication of bullet points between the Model Criteria and the Concepts. This was seen as confusing. Also, many Assessors found the use of the Concepts to structure the Executive Summary of a feedback report as unhelpful and detracted from the important messages to be conveyed to an applicant organisation.

Whilst there is no direct replacement, the following sentence provides an update on the previous definition: Outstanding organisations achieve and sustain levels of performance that meet or exceed the expectations of their Key Stakeholders

The 5 Key Threads of the EFQM Model are:

Culture - The model recognises that nurturing an outstanding organisational culture is how companies manage and inspire their people to deliver purpose and sustainable value. It melds beliefs, diversity, the environment and the tone of an organisation.

Leadership - Effective leadership keeps an organisation true to its purpose and vision, which is why the new EFQM Model advocates a ‘leaders at every level’ approach to ensure strong decision-making, collaboration and teamwork in every team and every project.

Transformation & Performance - Transformation and performance are a two-sided coin. How do you embrace one while maintaining the other? That’s where the new EFQM Model adds value, providing a tested framework for delivering organisational success.

Flexible & adaptive - No two organisations are alike, and this is why the new EFQM Model has been built to be flexible and adaptive for all organisations, regardless of size or sector, shining a guiding spotlight on the path to sustainable outstanding performance.

The Future - The new EFQM Model has been designed from years of experience in changing markets to understand the benefits of organisational analysis, future forecasting and predictive intelligence in driving true transformation.

Results are important but they are what has happened. What matters most is that the organisation knows why it exists and who it serves. It has the culture in place to be successful, knows how to best deliver sustainable value and how to make best use of the results achieved to date.

Creating Sustainable Value is the heartbeat of the new Model.

The new EFQM Model is a result of a co-creation where we surveyed nearly 2000 change experts, facilitated 24 workshops internally, spoke face to face with leaders in over 60 diverse organisations and created a core team of experts and contributors from across industries and academia.

We didn’t want to introduce the Ecosystem picture into the brochure because we did not want it to become the de facto way of presenting it by any organisation interested in applying for EFQM Recognition. We believe that organisations should have flexibility to present their Ecosystem in their own way and, probably more importantly, go through the thinking process rather than fill in a pre-set template. We do use the diagram in the ECAT course and will also use it in the new EAT course as a teaching aid to highlight the importance of the Ecosystem – but it is only an example.

EFQM Model – Criteria

Purpose explains the “why” in doing something. Your Purpose guides you. Your Purpose statement articulates why you do what you do, why your organisation exists. A Purpose statement presents the fundamental reason for why an organisation exists and it provides the motivation to achieve its business goals. Purpose goes deep into the DNA of an organisation and stays till the end as it is the core reason why an organisation is working.

Your Mission statement is how you accomplish your Purpose. A Mission statement is a written pronouncement of an organisation’s precise focus that may shift with the passage of time with changes in the market and environment. Your Mission states the “How” and “For Whom” for accomplishing a task. It represents the organisation’s current focus, which may change with time.

Process management is now generally accepted as an established good practice which is why it does not have a specific mention. The Model has always endeavoured to be non-prescriptive, and the new Model promotes even greater flexibility in thinking. However, it does outline certain expectations about management systems, governance, the link between Direction and Execution, etc. You will find some relevant guidance in 1.4, 1.5 and 5.1.

The content of Criterion 3 (People) in the 2013 Model has been replaced by a thread that runs through several different Criterion parts in the new Model, e.g.

Define the Purpose and Vision for the organisation

Identify and understand the needs of your people (as a Key Stakeholder)

2.1 – 2.4   Create the desired working environment for your   People (Culture and Leadership)

3.2  Attract, engage, develop and retain your people

6  Measure the perceptions of your people

7  Measure other aspects of your performance in   managing your people

The increased flexibility allows for the points raised by the question to be covered, if appropriate to the organisation, but also allows for new or different approaches to be considered

It is true that Innovation is a Lens that EFQM has developed based on the new Model but that does not prevent this management topic also appearing in the Model itself. There is a red thread on “Innovation & Creativity”, as well as Disruptive Thinking, running through Direction, Execution & Results but it is not all pervasive in the Model.

As a single word, Environment can be interpreted in many different ways and have a multitude of meanings. Whereas Ambience, as a word, has a more specific meaning. It is a “mood” – an “atmosphere”

Selling the Value is to promote this Value within Key Stakeholders and convincing them that the product, service or solution delivers outstanding value to them.

An organisation should establish effective mechanisms and measures to collect, analyse and draw conclusions from feedback received at important, “moments of truth” touch points to help to create value?

It was a deliberate decision to be less prescriptive about what should be measured by an organisation. For some organisations, it was not completely relevant to place stakeholders in the boxes of Customers, People and Society. Under the new Model, the organisation is expected to consider which stakeholders are the most important (Key) in the context of its Purpose, Vision and Strategy, and ensure that the Perceptions of these Stakeholders are measured. When it comes to scoring in an assessment, the Assessors will be expected to make judgements about whether to apply a specific weighting to any of the results that have been offered by the organisation.

It was a deliberate decision to be less prescriptive about what should be measured by an organisation. The theme of Direction-Execution-Results means that the results that an organisation includes under Criterion 7 should always be in line with its Direction and what it does to execute its strategy. It is not possible to give any more specific guidance without being prescriptive. All EFQM Assessors should make sure they have a very good understanding of the organisation’s ecosystem and its overall aspirations so that they can make appropriate decisions about the relevance and completeness of the set of performance indicators presented.

Whilst 6b, 7b, 8b, 9a & 9b could be covered in the new Criterion 7, the Core Team wanted the new Model to be designed to be more flexible than before, particularly in terms of how Stakeholders and associated Results are segmented/categorised. They wanted to take a completely fresh view and not be so prescriptive. The results should be the ones that help the organisation understand its current performance. Is it on track to meet its strategic goals? Is it meeting the required levels of performance to satisfy its Key Stakeholders? The results should also help the organisation to understand if it is likely to maintain its success in the future. Is the performance sustainable? Please note that the list shown in the Model brochure says “could include but are not limited to” - so it should not be considered as a definitive list. The results should be the most relevant for the organisation and what it is trying to achieve.


We decided not to include the RADAR scoring matrix based on the rationale that it is more important, for an organisation’s Leaders in particular, to focus on the meaning of the RADAR logic/elements/attributes rather than the technicalities of the scoring. The scoring itself is covered in the ECAT and EAT and, further down the assessment process, scoring is done on the AssessBase, not on paper.

It is also worth pointing out that once the new RADAR Scoring Matrices have been tested in the furnace of the Recognition process, it may be that some small adjustments may be necessary, and it will be much easier to make these changes in the digital world.

Ability to Achieve offers more of a strategic outlook. Where the 2013 Model was largely a rear-view mirror, the new RADAR encourages users to evaluate the ability to 'get there' and not just reflect on what has been done. Additionally, and expressed in a slightly different way, the Core Team wanted to move away from the term "Ability to Demonstrate" as the Assessors should not only evaluate what was actively demonstrated by the Applicant, but also take into account what they have observed or found out for themselves during their investigations at the Site Visit stage. So what matters is what the Applicant has really achieved (or realised) regarding a certain approach. We wanted to put more emphasis on the real achievement which may not necessarily be so well demonstrated by the organisation.

It was the opinion of the Core Team that “comprehensive,” as a word in English fitted better with “Achieve” (see Q&A 19 above), than “Full”

Simply put, it means to be prepared, to be ready, willing and able to fulfil the needs and expectations of the Key Stakeholders in the future, not forgetting of course the future needs of the organisation itself to ensure it continues to flourish.

When we talk about Direction, this is basically the initial "raison d'etre" and "aspiration" of a system/organisation and the way we try to reach it (strategy). So, it is the mirror for Execution and Results – i.e. the other parts that should be aligned to Direction. That means, that Direction, of itself, does not have to be aligned to itself. Moreover, in the new Model, for the first time, we look into Direction from a content perspective rather than just an approach perspective, so there is no sense in "Flexible" as, again, the “Flexible” applies to the "elements and relations" within a system/organisation (Execution) and not to the raison d'etre itself.

Stepping outside the world of business for a moment and considering the human body may help to clarify. For Agility we can talk about the ability of the body to be ready to move. To be nimble.  Synonyms would be; active, alert, brisk, lively, quick, whereas for Flexible we can talk about the capability of being flexed or bent without breaking; able to be turned, bowed, or twisted, without breaking; pliable; not stiff or brittle. Synonyms would include pliant, supple.

This is context dependent. What is the Clock Speed of the industry sector in which the organisation operates? As an Assessor you are not looking for, nor expecting to see, a “one size fits all” answer. You will be asking the Applicant what it thinks are appropriate timescales and, given you will understand the organisation’s ecosystem, you will then be able to make a judgement call on whether you agree the timescales are appropriate or not.

It is not Either/Or – instead, it is And/Both. Are the trends going in the right direction is one subject, but another aspect is whether the Scope and Relevance of the Results is also revised and improved. More than ever, in the world of today and the foreseeable future, organisations are needing to change quickly and more frequently and so perhaps the Scope & Relevance of yesterday’s measures are not the right ones for today.

An Organisation can be sitting on the largest pile of data in the world but it is useless rather than usable if it cannot be turned and tuned into information for the Leaders in an organisation that gives meaning and allows for the taking of appropriate future actions.  At the simplest of levels, how is the data segmented to best serve the needs of the organisation?

An Assessor and an Assessor Team should be able to make a judgement. We want our Assessors to be “in tune” with the organisation and its strategic ambitions and, in today’s world one might even ask why an organisation even bothers with a 5-year strategic plan? Perhaps this is context dependent? This is not an audit, it is not pass/fail, it is not binary. And at the more philosophical end of the conversation, if the organisation is only entering for an Award rather than to learn then is that the right mentality?

It is not possible to give a “one size fits all” answer.  As an Assessor and part of a high performing Assessor Team, an individual must use his/her judgement based on what the Applicant articulates about its affairs including the ecosystem(s) that it inhabits.

Where is the evidence that the organisation has “one eye on the future” rather than both eyes on the past and the present?” How is the organisation using the power of what technology can deliver nowadays in terms of, for instance, Big Data/Data Set analysis to help it with its future ambitions and to provide a greater degree of certainty.

The EFQM Model

A globally-recognised practical framework for organisational change and performance improvement.​
Available in 17 languages.


You can try it for FREEdownload  and share the EFQM Model summary, which covers all the main concepts.