Principles of Excellence
As a tool of TQM, the CAF subscribes to the fundamental concepts of excellence as initially defined by the European Foundation for Quality Management. The CAF translates them to the public sector and aims to improve the performance of public organisations on that basis. The implementation of these concepts makes the difference between the traditional bureaucratic public organisation and the one oriented towards the culture of the quality of performance. The core of the CAF model is the self-assessment of the organisation and thus the starting point for a comprehensive improvement process. Although the CAF primarily focuses on performance evaluation and management to make improvement possible, the ultimate goal is to contribute to good governance. Good governance begins with shared principles/values, which are to be taken into consideration during the assessment. Definitions and terminology of the values vary in different administrations even if there are recurring themes but the common European context is an important reference for CAF users taking into account the common public sector values and principles.
Principle 1: Results orientation
The organisation focuses on results. Results are achieved which please all of the organisation’s stakeholders (authorities, citizens/customers, partners and people working in the organisation) with respect to the targets that have been set.
Principle 2: Citizen/customer focus
The organisation focuses on the needs of present as well as potential citizens/customers. It involves them in the development of products and services, and the improvement of its performance.
Principle 3: Leadership and constancy of purpose
This principle couples visionary and inspirational leadership with constancy of purpose in a changing environment. Leaders establish a clear mission statement, as well as a vision and values; they also create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organisation’s objectives.
Principle 4: Management of processes and facts
This principle guides the organisation from the perspective that a desired result is achieved more efficiently when related resources and activities are managed as a process, and effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.
Principle 5: People development and involvement
People at all levels are the essence of an organisation and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organisation’s benefit. The contribution of employees should be maximised through their development and involvement, and the creation of a working environment of shared values and a culture of trust, openness, empowerment and recognition.
Principle 6: Continuous learning, innovation and improvement
Excellence is challenging the status quo and effecting change by continuous learning to create innovation and improvement opportunities. Continuous improvement should therefore be a permanent objective of the organisation.
Principle 7: Partnership development
Public sector organisations need others to achieve their targets and should therefore develop and maintain value-adding partnerships. An organisation and its suppliers are interdependent, and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value.
Principle 8: Social responsibility
Public sector organisations have to assume their social responsibility, respect ecological sustainability and try to meet the major expectations and requirements of the local and global community. These Principles of Excellence are integrated into the structure of the CAF and in time, the continuous improvement of the nine criteria will bring the organisation to a high level of maturity. For each principle, four levels of maturity have been worked out so that an organisation can have an idea of its way forward towards excellence.