Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Excellence Canada - Take 2

In 2002 I made a decision to separate our Proficiency Testing program (also referred to as PT or  External Quality Assessment or EQA), the Clinical Microbiology Proficiency Testing (CMPT) program from our colleagues by going the extra step of implementing a true and effective Quality Management program.  In my world of medical laboratories this was not so much a competitive advantage in a business sense because the collective group of EQA programs did not compete for laboratories, but perhaps did so more on the basis of positive recognition.    In the absence of an EQA specific standard at the time, we decided to develop an intact, active, vital quality program consistent with ISO9001.  By 2004 our Quality System was registered and we have been certified or recertified every year ever since. 

By about 2006 or 7, we were very proud of what we had accomplished and decided it was time to crank things up a notch by having ourselves assessed for a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  It was at that time that we learned that getting an MBNQA in Canada was not an option because Baldrige was a US program designed and intended for US organizations.  What I didn’t know, and perhaps should have was that there was (and is) a Canadian counterpart, the Canada Awards for Excellence (or CAE), that would clearly provide the boost in ego status and recognition for which we were gunning.

Today CAE continues to exist, but under a new and different name, Excellence Canada.  As an aside, Canadian organizations love that type of name structure – Trans Canada Airlines became Air Canada; Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA) became Accreditation Canada, and the French language arm of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation became Radio-Canada.  But I digress.

Under its new name of Excellence Canada, the organization continues to thrive, but perhaps a little under the radar.  Recently I found a blog entry dated two years ago to the month which said “As a Canadian I have to wonder why no federal or provincial government has ever thought it reasonable to initiate a Canadian award for Quality and Excellence.”  Embarrassingly, it was written by me [see:].  

Fortunately I was a quick learner and in 2012 I wrote informatively about Accreditation Canada and CAE.  [see: ].

Canada, Excellence Canada, and CAE have much to be proud of, and the organization deserves a higher profile in Canada than I was apparently appreciating.  Of interest and of note (I hope I have got this right!) the CAE was first awarded in 1884 and predated the Malcolm Baldridge Award by 3 years. 

What is typical of Canadians and our Canadian institutions is that we tend to be very poor at recognizing deserved visibility and respect.  Perhaps there are some exceptions to the rule, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Jim Carrey, but I would argue that for those two, the less the recognition the more appropriate it is.

I note that my fellow countryman Daniel Zrymiak has similarly written about Excellence Canada  [see: ].  I follow QualitEvolution with a certain degree of regularity, and I will say that we tend to see things with a similar point of view.  So it does not surprise me that we both view Excellence Canada as low profile  That being said, I would have to call it harsh to describe Excellence Canada as “somewhat irrelevant for a global organization”.  Pretty harsh for a polite Canadian.


As an addendum, if I have left you with the impression that CMPT has sought and earned a Canadian Award for Excellence, that would be misleading. It is something that we are still looking at.

Again, Sorry!

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