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Headland Hotel’s Improvement and Excellence Model Case Study

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Updated: Nov 26th, 2020

Reason why Organisation started Improvement Journey

Organisations initiate the improvement journey when their management and leaders realise that they do not carry out their activities in an efficient manner. Management, therefore, sees need to initiate change to drive the organisation towards excellence. An excellent organisation is an organisation that is able to attain and maintain high performance levels thereby satisfying the needs and expectations of customers for the long term as well as satisfying the needs of other external stakeholders. Organisations strive to attain excellence to be able to consistently add value to customers by having a clear understanding of their needs and working towards satisfying them (Dean, 2009, 15).

The management of Headland Hotel initiated the improvement journey in order to drive the hotel towards excellence. They adopted the excellence model to be able to develop business improvement plans that were strong and executable. The model also offered the hotel an opportunity to link up and collaborate with other market players in the industry. This strategy would help the hotel management to learn from similar organisations in the hotel industry that were already working towards achieving excellence in their operations.

Another reason why the hotel management started the improvement journey was to make sure that they followed through with all the initiatives they had developed since the commitment to excellence model ensured that an organisation was committed (Andrew and Kangyong, 2011, 28).

Framework used by Headland Hotel for Their Improvement Journey

In the process of initiating the improvement journey, every organisation has to come up with an appropriate framework to guide them through the process and to help them achieve excellence. Before identifying the specific framework that Headland hotel used, it is necessary to first highlight the reasons as to why organisations adopt the excellence model. The excellence model is designed in a simple way that enables organisations to first carry out a situation analysis in order to clearly identify their position on their journey to excellence. This can be done through carrying out a SWOT analysis.

The model provides employees and management with a common way of thinking that helps them communicate better about the organisational goals and objectives. The model also provides an integration framework for ideas and initiatives in order to avoid redundancy. Finally, it provides a basic structure for the management system of the organisation (Dean, 2009, 29).

Headland Hotel used the EFQM excellence model in their improvement journey. The excellence model is based on the assumption that excellent organisations observe global human rights. The model assumes that excellent organisations tend to abide by these principles even if they are not legally required to do so. The model was developed to help organisations identify and promote sustainable success and to guide organisations in the journey towards excellence. The management of Headland Hotel used this model due to its ability to help them guide the hotel towards achieving excellence (Bergeron, 2003, 20).

Advantages of the EFQM Model

Using the EFQM Model in the improvement journey helps organisations from various sectors of the economy to compare themselves with organisations that have achieved sustainability and excellence. This comparison is done in terms of evaluating the positive attributes, qualities and achievements of these organisations. Organisations seeking excellence can borrow from such sustainable organisations and build their own culture of excellence by engaging in value driven activities such as the adoption of superior management styles which are consistent, innovation-driven, and result-oriented. Such positive attributes ensure that an organisation remains committed to achieving excellence (Bergeron, 2003, 25).

Organisations that make the right use of this model are normally able to attain a management system that helps improve an organisation’s strategies continuously. Such a management system is critical for the achievement of organisational goals and objectives. The model, therefore, helps an organisation to remain focused and on track by ensuring that both short-term and long-term goals are well stated and given the appropriate attention.

The model also provides some fundamental concepts of excellence which provide an essential foundation that helps organisations to achieve excellence. These fundamental concepts can also be used by organisations as ways of identifying the positive attributes that define the culture of an excellent organisation. Finally, these fundamental concepts can be used to create a common language by the senior management of an organisation seeking excellence which helps them communicate better between themselves and with their employees (Alvesson, 2004, 68).

Using the EFQM model also helps the management and leadership of an organisation to understand how organisational activities impact organisational performance. It helps them to understand that the relationship between activities and performance is a cause and effect, and that to achieve better results, there is a need to improve on how employees carry out assigned activities. The model also helps the organisation to make a clear assessment of their position on the journey to excellence. This means that it helps the management to identify how far or near they are from achieving excellence and what they need to do to achieve it (Alvesson, 2004, 69).

Another advantage of the model is that it helps the organisation to effectively measure organisational performance as it provides a structured approach to performance evaluation through its RADAR logic framework. The EFQM model is, therefore, important for organisations such as Headland Hotel since it helps them to lead change initiatives and also to manage the improvement journey by keeping the organisation focused and committed to their change initiatives (Alvesson, 2004, 70).

Key practices that enabled and constrained the BE journey

In their journey towards business excellence, the management of Headland Hotel engaged in various practices that either had a positive or negative implication on the achievement of business excellence. Such practices can either be deliberate or accidental and if the process is not well managed, the negative practices may outdo the positive ones and thus prevent the organisation from achieving business excellence.

Some of the positive practices include: adopting a people centred approach, setting up clear targets, applying more focused and application thinking, working on a few initiatives at a time and using performance support. On the other hand, some of the negative practices include: working on a lot of initiatives at a time, working on complex initiatives that are time consuming and a strong focus on the internal needs of the organisation which leads to the lack of customer focus (Coulson, 2013, 37).

Adopting a people centred approach ensures that the organisation employs people factors that help the organisation achieve success in the improvement journey. It is important to recognise that an organisation cannot function without human resources and that any change is initiated and implemented by people. This, therefore, means that adopting a people centred approach ensures that employees feel as a part of the process, identify with the change initiatives, and, therefore, work more effectively to achieve the needed excellence.

People need to feel appreciated by the organisation they work for in order to give their best in terms of performance (Coulson, 2013, 37). The management of Headland Hotel was aware from the beginning that in order for the organisation to achieve excellence through the improvement journey, it was critical for them to involve all the employees in the change process.

Setting up clear targets and establishing an effective feedback mechanism are also other practices that ensured that the hotel achieved success in its journey to excellence (Coulson, 2013, 38). The hotel management established clear and achievable goals and objectives to focus on. They also identified only 3 initiatives to start with in order to increase their chances of succeeding in achieving excellence.

The fact that the management of the hotel focused on only three initiatives at first resulted in less internal work to do and thus more focus on the needs of their customers. They also established an effective feedback mechanism through the development of questionnaires which were then issued to employees in order to get feedback on the progress of various initiatives. The management of the hotel was, therefore, able to make needed adjustments and to take corrective measures as the improvement journey progressed.

The adoption of more focused and application thinking is also another practice that enabled the hotel management to attain success in the organisation’s improvement journey. It is important to concentrate the organisational effort on a smaller number of improvement projects in order to ensure maximum benefits. Application thinking ensures that performance is not measured by the level of activity in the organisation, but by the output obtained. All organisational activities should be geared towards achieving the set goals and objectives. Any activity that does not add value to the process should be eliminated to improve efficiency (Alvesson, 2004, 71).

Practices that could constrain the Business Excellence Journey

As mentioned above, some of the practices that could have constrained the journey to business excellence are the following: attempting to work on very many initiatives at the same time, lack of clear goals and objectives, lack of a clear feedback mechanism, failing to adopt a people centred approach and lack of focus and application thinking. Trying to implement too many initiatives at the same time could reduce the time available to concentrate on each initiative as well as the human resources available to effectively implement it. Such a case would lead to a situation where most of the initiatives are implemented in a less than perfect manner thus making it more difficult for the organisation to achieve excellence (Alvesson, 2004, 74).

Another practice that could constrain achievement of business excellence is the failure to adopt a people centred approach. If employees feel left out from the process of change, they may decide to resist the changes or fail to perform their duties in an effective manner thus derailing the efforts to achieve excellence (Coulson, 2013, 38).

Was the journey a success or not

From the case study, it is clear that the improvement journey for Headland Hotel was a success. It is evident that since the management introduced the mystery shopper programme, the hotel’s scores have improved, with some even receiving scores of 100% with every customer visit. The hotel is also planning to initiate 3 more improvement projects after the initial 3 were a success. What this means is that the process has been successful for the hotel. Successful improvement journeys lead to an organisation initiating more projects after the completion of the initial ones (Coulson, 2013, 38).


Alvesson, M. 2004, Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Anderson, D. and Anderson, L.A, 2001, Beyond Change Management: Advanced Strategies for Today’s Transformational Leaders, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, San Francisco.

Bergeron, B. P. 2003, Essentials of Knowledge Management, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Coulson, C, 2013, Transforming Knowledge Management: A Quicker and Affordable Route to High Performance Organizations, Policy Publications, Peterborough.

Dean, C, 2009, RIMER Managing Successful Change, Uniforte Pty Ltd, Australia.

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