EFQM Excellence Model and Sustainability

                The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model seems similar to Deming’s Total Quality Management (TQM) in that it defines a quality improvement culture.  Both TQM and EFQM have similarities in that they consider themselves, processes, and organization-wide management frameworks (Knowles, 2011, p.16,46).  Both systems provide a path for improvement.  Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is similar to EFQM’s Results, Approaches, Deploy, Assess, and Refine (RADAR) process ((Knowles, 2011, p.43,48).  EFQM as an excellence award model that is thought to be built upon the work of Deming and TQM and is a practical application to the concepts in Deming’s TQM (Apostolava, 2017).

                Although the EFQM Excellence Model states that organizations striving for the highest standards of excellence are economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable (EFQM, 2018), it is not a new idea for sustainability to be linked with excellence.  In fact, Six Sigma, a methodology for operational excellence, believes that sustainable business practices are a part of the Six Sigma concepts of reducing waste and becoming more effective and efficient (Zell, 2014).  The Toyota Production System (TPS) referred to the 8 wastes (now modified from 7 wastes with the addition of Unused Skills/Talent) as: defects, overproduction, waiting, unused talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing (Skhmot, 2017).  These 8 wastes of Lean Manufacturing indicate that waste reduction leads to increased performance.  In fact, Lean is often tied to sustainability in its systematic reduction of waste (material waste, money waste, waste of time, etc.), and can yield substantial environmental benefits (LEAN Australia, n.d.).

                The EFQM is committed to sustainability and says that they are supportive and compatible with achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (The EFQM Channel, 2019) and the UN Global Compact, aligning their assessment to People, Planet, Profit, and Products (EFQM, 2014).  This links EFQM’s model to the ideas of being economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable.  Economic stability is tied not only to the profit and sustainability of the organization, but of the regional and global economy.  EFQM’s thought is that organizations can learn to continually improve their performance and growth to lead to sustainable economic growth (Mulder, 2012).  As EFQM is now used as a benchmark for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, it is used to promote social responsibility, ecological sustainability “both now and in the future,” as well as mutually beneficial projects with society (Jankal, 2015, p.662)..  This means that the EFQM has targeted CSR as its vehicle to deliver sustainability on economic, environmental, and social levels.  Building a CSR program is part of the current framework (Jankal, 2015, p.662).  EFQM also pushes for economic sustainability through transparent company management and quality products and services.  They push for care of employees and community volunteerism as social sustainability.  EFQM, lastly, pushes for environmental protection and integration of “social, environmental, and economic concerns into the values, culture, decision making, strategy, and operations in a transparent and accountable manner” (Jankal, 2015, p.661).

                Excellence in operation should not create environmental waste as an output, nor should it consume excess resources as an input; but should be contributing to the wellbeing of the ecosystem [environmental].  Excellence in operation should not create social stresses to the community and employees but should create opportunities for engagement and involvement for the improvement of the community that the organization operates in [social].  Excellence in operation should not create economic stresses such that it is creating unsustainable growth or economic conditions that indicate that the market is out of balance [economic].


Apostolova, S. (2017). What is the relationship between TQM and EFQM? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://specialties.bayt.com/en/specialties/q/338737/what-is-the-relationship-between-tqm-and-efqm/

EFQM. (2014). Introducing the new EFQM Committed to Sustainability. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/introducing-the-new-efqm-committed-to-sustainability-279782802.html

EFQM. (2018). What are the fundamental concepts of Excellence? Retrieved from https://middleeast.efqm.org/index.php/knowledge-base/what-are-the-fundamental-concepts-of-excellence/

Jankal, R., Jankalova, M. (2015). The application of The EFQM Excellence Model by the evaluation of Corporate Social Responsibility activities of companies. Published Procedia Economics and Finance   39  ( 2016 )  660 – 667 and available online at ScienceDirect.com.

Knowles, G. (2011). Quality Management. London, UK: Ventus Publishing ApS; Bookboon. Retrieved from https://bookboon.com/en/quality-management-ebook

LEAN Australia. (n.d.). LEAN to Green Sustainability. Retrieved from https://leanaust.com/services/lean-to-green-sustainability

Mulder, P. (2012). EFQM Model. Retrieved from toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/quality-management/efqm-model/

Skhmot, N. (2017). The 8 Wastes of Lean. Retrieved from https://theleanway.net/The-8-Wastes-of-Lean

The EFQM Channel. (2019). The EFQM Model is here. [YouTube] Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ec3VbpzpRJg

Zell, S. (2014). How Six Sigma Supports Sustainable Business Practice. Retrieved from https://www.sixsigmadaily.com/six-sigma-inherently-supports-sustainable-business-practice/

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