Derek Medhurst

D&D Excellence

Derek (left) and Dave Richards

From the year 2000 to 2017 I worked with Dave Richards in our own business “D&D Excellence”, specialising in helping organisations to use the EFQM Excellence Model. We built an excellent reputation for constructively helping our own clients, and equally so for the way in which we carried out numerous Levels of Excellence assessments/validations for the British Quality Foundation.

Over 2016-2017 I scaled back my involvement in preparation for a life of semi-retirement and now full retirement. But life seems very busy still! Dave has continued his Excellence exploits, especially carrying out more Levels of Excellence assessments, and also working on the management of the UK Excellence Awards for the BQF.

The D&D difference

Dave and I are extremely proud of everything we achieved as D&D. Not only did we help numerous organisations practically on their Excellence journeys, we made many good friends. People appreciated our style of working, which we once characterised when asked as “with humour and humanity”. We found it perfectly possible to find out what was going on in an organisation without resorting to heavy-handed approaches. We were surprised and proud to learn of the following unsolicited feedback from a college we had just assessed:

I would like to commend the way in which the assessment was carried out by Dave Richards and Derek Medhurst. Despite the rigour of the process and the high degree of professionalism required of them (and demonstrated by them) throughout the week, they went out of their way to engage with managers and staff in a way that encouraged them to open up, talk freely and discuss the key matters in a way that was both helpful to them in collecting and considering evidence, but also to us in gaining greater understanding of how the college might go forward in using the Model for future development. Their obvious very considerable experience enabled them to demonstrate insights into the way we work and how we might develop. As an organisation which is subject to numerous inspections (which we have no choice but to participate in!), it was refreshing to have two assessors working with us who provided a quite different approach to what we normally experience, and who we felt at the end of the week had contributed much of value to our own thinking about the college and its future use of the Model, whilst at the same time making rigorous judgements about the college.

We often received requests from Recognised for Excellence holders that we had assessed the first time for us to carry out their subsequent re-assessment. They did not expect - or get - an “easy ride”, they simply valued our integrity, manner of working and extremely high quality of our reports (content and structure!).

Another piece of applicant feedback was:

From our side, I’ve had a few people commenting that they enjoyed the interviews, that you both had obviously really understood our business and our strategy, and the questions you were asking were pertinent and thought provoking, which was really good to hear.

This was from an organisation that we assessed for the fourth time. We were pleased that we were still keeping them on their toes and seen to be analysing them, not just nodding them through.

Another part of our working style was, whenever possible, to use plain language to make Excellence easier to understand. We thought that the formal documents were often written in "highfalutin" business jargon which did little to help "real people" understand and use the Model. The EFQM even approved our plain language Companion publication to the Model that tried to add clarity to their official guide.

D&D publications

During our time as D&D we wrote a few articles about Excellence, and for the most part made these freely available on our website. With the D&D Excellence website now closed, we decided to put the most relevant ones on my site and you can find them on the Publications page of this section. While these were all written before the 2020 version of the Model, we think you'll find the thinking is still relevant.

A coincidence

I recently bought a stereocard, shown below, entitled ‘The “Excellent”, Portsmouth Harbour—Great Gun Practice’. It is by the photographer George Washington Wilson and dates from around 1862/3. It seemed an interesting meeting of my professional life in the Excellence world and my hobby of photography!

The Excellent in Portsmought Harbour: Great Gun Practice