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Quality according to Xelyo

Excellence Thinking: The Quest for Continuous Improvement


In business in general and in quality in particular, the term excellence is widely used. In most cases in combination with other words such as operational excellence or business excellence or even excellence through quality, presenting quality as a means and excellence as its goal.

This creates the impression that there is indeed an ultimate quality goal, but that is where things go wrong, because everything is dynamic and variable: what is considered excellent today may be unacceptable tomorrow. There is no fantastic end goal, just an exciting journey!

Imagine a group of well-trained athletes at the start of a marathon. The goal is clear: it is 42.195 km away. But this is a special marathon because during the race the participants are informed several times that the finish is now a few kilometers further down. How many athletes will keep running, do you think? How many of them would even start if they knew this beforehand? However, that is what you expect from your employees if you ask them to continuously improve.

Xelyo, with its core concept of thinking excellence, creates a quality culture of getting better. This requires knowledge and training, but above all learning to enjoy the improvement in itself, striving as a goal. Not everything will always work out, but we can always learn and do better next time.

Regularly pausing to look at what you have already achieved is an integral part of that. Celebrating achievements such as obtaining a certificate as well. These are important steps that you can and should be proud of and that encourage you to continue your journey with pleasure.

1. Mission Driven 

One of the many definitions of quality is “doing the right things right”. This refers to effectiveness and efficiency but ignores the more existential question: why are we doing all this? The answer to that question, the mission of the organisation, is the frame of reference against which everything we do and even how we do it must be measured. The mission statement reflects the core values of the organisation and is an important motivator to keep doing what we do better.

2.Customer centric

The essence of quality is the pursuit of added value for the customer. Whether it concerns healthcare, education or cars: the expectations of the recipient of a service or product are the True North that the organisation must aim at. The aspect of efficiency in function of effectiveness is nowhere more applicable than in focusing on the customer. A focus on efficiency at the expense of customer experience will always be detrimental to an organisation in the long run.


The success of improvement projects that combat waste is often assessed on the basis of financial indicators. It is not recognised that such projects also make an important contribution to the sustainability of an organisation. This aspect will only gain in importance or to put it in a quip: “an organisation will be sustainable or it will not be”. Quality already makes an important contribution, but we can do much more. Our knowledge about improvement can be used to give sustainability projects a better chance of success. Moreover, with this knowledge we can also contribute to a more sustainable world beyond the boundaries of the organisation.

4. Increase the Organisation’s Learning Capacity

We have defined excellence as a process of continuous improvement. This applies to all aspects of an organization and therefore also to the people who are part of it. Learning from mistakes, staying curious and being open to new techniques and ways of working create an active environment of improvement. Lifelong learning is not a burden, but a pleasure.

5. Aware of Waste and Scarcity 

With the success of Lean, the slogan “Eliminate Waste” has taken off. Organizations are therefore very focused on improvements that prevent or at least reduce waste. This ties in seamlessly with our pursuit of higher efficiency. “Too much” is therefore dealt with quickly, but also “too little” can lead to quality problems in an organization. Scarcity or a chronic lack of resources can also have a negative effect on quality. Both waste and scarcity therefore deserve sufficient attention and the necessary action.

6. Let Talent Blossom

An organisation is a collection of people and the way they work together is often referred to as its culture. Usually that remains a somewhat vague concept, but a nice and interesting definition is: “organisational culture is what people do when you don't tell them what to do”. Organisations that give people the freedom to showcase their talent can reap the benefits. Investing in people's talent increases everyone's knowledge and investment in building a culture of continuous improvement.

7. Efficient Effectiveness

Traditionally, quality is very much focused on doing well, on efficiency. “Doing well” refers not only to quality but also to cost and speed. Quality systems establish the best way of working, and numerous improvement projects end in a better working method: cheaper, faster, with less downtime. It is nice to do something well, but being good at what no customer is interested in or notices does not add value to that customer and therefore the organization. Considering the effectiveness of each activity is therefore at least as important as the efficiency with which it is carried out.

8. Open to Innovation 

If there's one thing we should keep from childhood, it's the ability to gaze in wonder at the world around us. It stimulates our learning capacity and it keeps us open to new, innovative possibilities. This can be about completely new and groundbreaking technology but also about small, subtle changes that reveal new avenues for improvement. But whatever it is, innovation is only useful if it leads to greater effectiveness, added value for the customer and the organization.

The idea of the pillars came about in collaboration with Hans Punter (ex-Quality Manager Siemens Industry Software). The above explanation was formulated by Willy Vandenbrande (Quality Thinker & honorary member of Xelyo)

Xelyo holds great importance to these pillars. You can only really speak of a quality-organisation if sufficient attention is paid to all these subjects..


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