From employee orientation to Total Quality Management

// noventum

novum: For 10 years now, noventum consulting has worked very intensively and successfully with a culture of trust and the goal of being a „Great Place to Work®“. Now you went even a step further.

Uwe Rotermund: As head of the company it has been my wish for many years to provide a structure to performance orientation, not just trust in the fact that everyone will define for himself what constitutes performance. I assume that people want to perform, but I cannot assume that they all will want to perform in the same direction, that a common goal will be pursued.

novum: What is the challenge in linking a culture of trust and performance thinking? After all, employee orientation is practically part of the credo of noventum.

Uwe Rotermund: The balancing act takes place, on the one hand, to allow the individual managers and the employees a high degree of independence and self-reliance, and on the other, to develop a very clear orientation regarding the performance-oriented indicators. Once having gotten curious, we started out to further develop ourselves also in the EFQM environment (European Foundation for Quality Management). From earlier times, we have experience with the „Balanced Scorecard“. Where the vision for our company is concerned, we have always had great clarity and a great consensus. The only area in which we had to catch up was the area of „Check and control“.

novum: What is at the core of this?

»Trust is good, however, so is controlling!«

Uwe Rotermund: When the motto – in a somewhat shortened version – of the Great Place to Work® Community could be „Trust is good, control happened yesterday“, then that sheds a light on the idea of control that is exclusively negative. However, my attitude to that is „Trust is good, controlling is good as well!“ What is meant here is controlling within the meaning of control and transparency. This is about an intelligent linking of both approaches.

novum: Controlling within this meaning therefore implies a strong participation by the employees?

Uwe Rotermund: This is about the question: „Where am I standing?“ It is about the learning effect for all participants. Often, the targets are defined jointly; a joint monitoring of how it works; at the end the question is asked jointly: „What will we learn should we did not achieve our goals?“ This kind of control is understood to be „cooperative control.“ My view of man says that, in a culture of trust, it is not necessary to check if someone has done his job, but to jointly learn and understand what the cause was for him not having achieved his goals.

novum: How do Great Place to Work® and EFQM, the controlling system you have sought out, fit together?

Uwe Rotermund: Very well! EFQM is defined with 8 principles which all mesh very well with the principles of the culture of trust, such as are advocated by the GPtW® institute. As an example, we could perhaps mention the GPtW® principle of „balanced results“. This is about positive results, but they must have been negotiated fairly. „Balance“ and „Sustainability“ are terms that are meeting here. But this is beyond just one individual company. And the greater good must also not be forgotten. „Leadership quality“ and the realisation that „employees are the key to success“ are additional touchpoints.

novum: With EFQM, the intense focus on its own processes appears to be in the foreground?

»Can integrity be measured?«

Uwe Rotermund: That is correct! To achieve our goals we need an industrial logic, a repeatable process. That is what is interesting about combining both approaches. Seen from the GPtW® viewpoint, it is more about attitudes, integrity and visions. Since we are an organisation, seen from the EFQM perspective it is about reproducibility, rules, insights and processes.

novum: Can integrity be measured?

Uwe Rotermund: Yes, this is about how achieving integrity or utility for the customer or societal acceptance of responsibility can be reflected in goals and processes. Integrity can be measured then, as well.

novum: How do we have to imagine the analysis structure of EFQM?

Uwe Rotermund: Self-assessment is an important element of the EFQM model. Here, we make a distinction between five process groups which, together, are considered to be „enabling“ the company.

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategy
  3. Employees
  4. Partnerships and resources
  5. Processes, products and services

The entire company is structured into these five areas. For each there are questions that must be answered to any desired degree of depth and detail. Of course, this includes having an organisational makeup and process organisation, a vision, a strategy. All that has to be described. If I am a „Great Place to Work®“, a large portion of these questions have already been answered, there is much overlapping in the topics. The so-called „cultural audit“ of the Great Place to Work® survey already covers a lot of the contents of what will again become a topic in the EFQM survey.

novum: What else must be emphasised in the EFQM approach?

Uwe Rotermund: The EFQM emphasises enablement and success. If I have repeatable processes with which I generate a result, then I am „enabling success“. And the success is measured in results.

novum: For you, what has your working with EFQM brought you with respect to your company?

Uwe Rotermund: First I could see, on a high concretisation level, how thoroughly we have thought our company through, how we have permeated our activities in thoughts. Blank spaces were quickly filled. That was also the first important step of the audit that we went through, the self-assessment.

novum: What are the effects of EFQM?

Uwe Rotermund: Initially, processes describe only what has to be done how. The effect is measureable in two dimensions. One of them is the question: „Are things really done as they are described?“ and then: „Are we getting the results that were hoped for?“ That is the results level of EFQM.
To answer these questions, measurement and planning procedures must be available. Without comparison of plan/actual there are no results.

novum: What does the comparison with other companies look like?

Some things cannot be compared if one is innovative!

Uwe Rotermund: At first, benchmarking always sounds good. However, some things cannot be compared, particularly if one is innovative. Within the framework of the EFQM question template, different companies can come to completely different results, and still all of them can be very successful. EFQM does not make any valuing decisions, it offers a planning and analysis framework.

novum: Without a doubt, the defined goals and purposes of a company can quite obviously have an immaterial character that is difficult to measure because they are tied to values such as „good“ or „helpful“. Let‘s think about the idea that as a company in the world we want to contribute something to the success of the community of all people.

Uwe Rotermund: Yes, this will become demanding and rewarding at the same time. It is however, a great challenge to categorise one‘s own actions such that I am able to first theoretically and then empirically read off if I am doing the right thing to, for example, make the world a better place. Then I have to ask myself very strictly, what am I doing specifically to be able to achieve my lofty goal? And as a result I ask myself if it was right to support my goal, after I compared, via a reaction analysis, the effects of my actions with the desired goal. It is a fascinating instrument!

novum: In the end, is the noventum Corporate Management Dashboard the platform in which everything comes together?

Uwe Rotermund: Yes. As IT experts and BI experts we have, of course, created a corresponding application for our own purposes. It helps us greatly to visualise our results and to evaluate them. Here, it can be read off again in detail how results and numbers from the GPtW® process are incorporated into the EFQM work. A lot of synergies, a lot of inner connections.

novum: Thank you very much for the interview.


The interview with Uwe Rotermund was conducted by Dr. Matthias Rensing, noventum consulting.


noventum consulting

Uwe Rotermund


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