Category Archives: About Us

Michael E. Voss – Co-founder


  • Member of Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ)
  • Professional Electrical Engineer
  • Certified Quality Manager
  • Authorised TechLink Consultant
  • Authorised Business Excellence Consultant
  • Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
  • Associate Fellow New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM)
  • Member Institute of Directors (IOD)


  • Diploma of Business Excellence – NZ Business Excellence Foundation
  • Bachelor of Engineering with Honours (Electrical) – University of Canterbury, NZ
  • Bachelor of Science (Physics) – University of Canterbury, NZ

Areas of expertise

  • Strategic and Business planning
  • New product & technology planning
  • Business expansion and new technology
  • Technology planning and implementation
  • Integration of business excellence with organisation management systems, including ISO 9001 and ISO 14001
  • Quality Award programme design and management
  • Trainer and coach

Experience overview:
Michael has worked for the NZ and US governments and in private enterprise, prior to setting up his own consultancy. PYXIS Consulting specialises in applying the Criteria for Performance Excellence to improve the performance of organisations.

Michael’s work with the Criteria has involved the assessment of organisations from two person partnerships to multi-site companies, and a wide range of businesses including government departments, local bodies, manufacturers, high technology companies, tourist operators, exporters, retailers and service based organisations.

Key Achievements:

  • Over 10 years operating business improvement coach and mentoring consultancy, PYXIS
  • 15 years experience in assessing companies to the NZ Business Excellence Foundation’s criteria for performance excellence (Baldrige criteria) including leading teams, coaching applicant organisations and observer of the assessment process
  • Involved in assessing over 70 companies who applied to the Ministry of Commerce Business Development Awards
  • Six years experience as Quality Manager of world wide operations of internationally recognised technology based organisation
  • Five years experience in senior management role responsible for the successful transition of innovative new high technology products into production
  • 30 years experience in high technology industry including analogue design, microprocessor system design, RF design, production development, engineering management and quality management

Sample of recent work completed

  • Coached senior management teams in conducting organisational assessments to identify significant areas for performance improvement in a number of organisations in the manufacturing, IT, telecommunications and training sectors. In each case the organisation engaged PYXIS to use its Assessor tool to provide rapid determination of key areas for organisational improvement.
  • Redesigned engineering design and maintenance components of ISO 9001 compliant business management system. Services provided include process mapping, documentation and staff training for its engineering activities and management for NZ Refining Company
  • Custom designed and managed successful Business Excellence Awards programmes within three NZ regions. In each case PYXIS designed and project managed the Business Excellence Awards programme to meet the client’s needs. This included applicant workshops, application assessment, and judging activities
  • Increased the performance of a world leading supplier of electrical control equipment. PYXIS was engaged to provide coaching and to design and introduce a number of integrated processes into its existing ISO 9001 management system. Assessor was used to establish the key processes to be targeted for improvement. These key processes included strategic planning, management review, organisational staff culture survey and a performance management system for senior managers
  • Internal quality auditor training course tutor. NZOQ engaged Michael Voss of PYXIS as a tutor for its ISO 9001 internal auditor’s course.
  • Technology strategy planning of high risk development projects for over 50 technology-based high growth potential export companies. In each case the company engaged PYXIS to prepare a technology plan consistent with their overall strategic direction and provide advice on possible funding assistance from Technology New Zealand. For many companies this resulted in the company applying for and obtaining technology development funding through Technology New Zealand.
  • Process design and introduction of Project Management methodology. PYXIS was engaged to introduce structured processes designed to deliver development projects within specification, on time and within budget. This work also involved development of a standardised risk management methodology
  • Facilitated regional level planning consistent with national objectives. The NZ Fire Service engaged PYXIS to facilitate its regional planning activities for their Western and Northern regions
  • Growth planning for manufacturing company. PYXIS was engaged to assist with a range of organisational growth services including coaching, strategic and business planning, senior staff appointments, technology planning, new ISO 9001 compliant management system and advice on obtaining government assistance from Technology NZ and NZ Trade and Enterprise with its drive to develop export sales opportunities
  • Facilitated regional level planning. The NZ Police engaged PYXIS to facilitate regional planning activities for the Central region. PYXIS was also engaged to assist with project management training for managers of its organisational change projects.

Selected Publications
Two handbooks on Business Excellence published by NZ Business Excellence Foundation.

Authors: Doug Matheson, Michael Voss, Bill English and Sue Wright.

  • What is Business Excellence – Part 1
  • How to implement Business Excellence – Part 2

Mann, R.S. & Voss, M.E. (2000). An Innovative Process Improvement Approach that Integrates ISO 9000 with the Baldrige Framework. Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol 7, No.2, p128-146; won the Tait Quality Prize for Best Practical Quality Paper in New Zealand for 2000.

Dr. Robin Mann – Co-founder


  • Founder and Head of the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, Massey University. This is a Centre that undertakes research projects into business excellence and benchmarking. It operates a number of Doctorate Programmes.
  • CEO of the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research Limited, COER Ltd undertakes consultancy projects in business excellence and benchmarking, and provides benchmarking training.
  • Commercial Director and founder of Ltd. The is a leading internet resource for sharing best practice and benchmarking information.
  • Chairman of the Global Benchmarking Network The GBN is a membership based organisation for those organisations that promote and support benchmarking within their country. Currently over 25 countries are represented.
  • Associate Dean of TQM and Benchmarking at the e-TQM College in Dubai, The e-TQM College aims to become the leading educator of TQM in the Arab world through innovative, affordable and accessible means that is focussed on e-technology.


  • PhD in Total Quality Management – University of Liverpool, UK.
  • Master of Science in Technology for Manufacture – University of Warwick, UK
  • Bachelor of Science with Honours in Management Sciences – University of Lancaster, UK.
  • New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation Evaluator (Baldrige Criteria)
  • UK Quality Award Assessor (EFQM Criteria)
  • Lead Assessor of Quality Systems

Areas of expertise

  • Business excellence (Baldrige & European Business Excellence Model)
  • TQM
  • Quality Management
  • Performance Measurement
  • Best Practices
  • Benchmarking

Experience overview:
Dr Robin Mann received one of the first PhD’s in Total Quality Management worldwide, prior to working as a Process Improvement Manager at Burton’s Biscuits in Edinburgh. Robin founded and managed the Food and Drinks Industry Benchmarking and Self-assessment Initiative in the UK involving over 500 organisations. In 1998 Robin moved to New Zealand and established the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research at Massey University.

Robin has assisted over 300 organisations to undertake self-assessments using a variety of business excellence self-assessment tools. Robin is a trained assessor of both the EFQM Excellence Model and the Baldrige Criteria. Robin has written 20 refereed journal papers for leading journals, written over 100 non-refereed papers and reports, written 6 short books, given 100’s of professional presentations and is frequently a keynote presenter (invited to present in 11 countries during 2006). For a list of publications for download click here.

Sample of recent work completed
Founded the New Zealand Benchmarking Club. The Club was founded in May 2000 and ran for four years with 18 member organisations. The Club provided a number of services that were designed to accelerate the progress of member organisations to world-class performance (including benchmarking training, benchmarking studies, workshops, conferences and research services). It achieved great success as member organisations improved their Baldrige score by an average of 50 points per year (assessed by BPES).

Facilitated four regional benchmarking programmes in New Zealand through working with Gosling Chapman ( Auckland ) and the Business Development Centre (Hamilton) involving 40 SME’s in 2005, 2006 and 2007. All organisations used BPES.

Robin is the lead consultant of a business excellence programme in Ras Al Khaimah (United Arab Emirates) for the government from 2005 onwards. This project involves assisting 17 government departments towards business excellence (through helping them to apply the EFQM excellence model and identify best practices through benchmarking).

Reviewed and updated the Australian Business Excellence Framework and advised on its deployment on behalf of the custodians of the model (SAI Global) in 2004/5. This project had the involvement of 16 countries and was endorsed by the Global Excellence Model Council. It was a unique project in that it is not only looked at the design of the framework but also how best to deploy it on a national basis. The project was of major international significance – most countries participating used the findings as an input to their national business excellence strategy.

Provided business excellence and benchmarking programme advice to a number of countries including Australia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.

How Long Before I Can Expect Results?

The application of business excellence to an organisation typically involves organisational change. To be successful change projects generally require the following;

  • create a shared vision of the changed organisation
  • separate the new vision from the past
  • creating a sense of urgency for change
  • set up and support a strong leader and project sponsor
  • develop an achievable implementation plan and resource it
  • put required structures in place to support the change
  • communicate and involve people throughout the project
  • reinforce and integrate change into management systems

As for any organisational change results will vary dependent on the size of the change being attempted. While benefits will be observable almost immediately it will take 3 years or more to see significant bottom line results from the application of business excellence.

Users of the Australian Business Excellence Framework were asked to assess whether or not their performance had changed as a result of following a business excellence approach. The Figure below indicates that all organisations except one reported benefits and the one that did not report any benefits had only recently began to use the ABEF. There was also a trend that those organisations which had used the ABEF for a longer period of time were more likely to indicate that their performance improvements had been greater.

MISSING IMAGE Graph of the benefits from using the ABEF (categorised by length of use)
Benefits from using the ABEF (categorised by length of use)

In summary the sooner that an organisation starts the sooner that significant benefits found by other organisations that apply business excellence principles will be obtained.

Benefits of Business Excellence Use

Research indicates that organisations with a business excellence approach obtain significant benefits. This research includes that conducted in US, Europe, Australia and NZ. Beyond improvement in financial indicators, other benefits include

  • enhanced innovation and idea generation,
  • increased customer satisfaction,
  • organisational growth (employees),
  • increased employee satisfaction and involvement,
  • improved efficiency and effectiveness, and
  • product reliability

Notwithstanding these benefits, of which there is considerable evidence and also debate, one key benefit of award-based models is that they provide a ‘balanced scorecard’ of criteria and measures against which organisations can objectively evaluate their management systems and performance, and compare that performance with world standard benchmark levels, or with the performance of other organisations.

US evidence that business excellence works
Sources of evidence of the financial impact of business excellence include the US ‘Baldrige index’. This was used over the past ten years to track the share value performance of award winners against a control group of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies. A notional US$1000 was invested in Baldrige award winners and its subsequent growth compared against the equivalent amount invested in the S&P companies. After eight years of outperforming the S&P 500 companies by as much as 6.5 to 1 on stock price performance, Baldrige award winners underperformed against the comparison group in 2003 and 2004. This is attributed to the relatively poor performance of technology companies in recent years, and the index has now been discontinued for reasons that are detailed by NIST.

Hendricks & Singhal studied the long-term effects of implementing effective BE programs. Using the winning of Criteria for Performance Excellence (Baldrige) awards as the criterion to select organisations their research shows a strong link between BE and financial performance. The study found that US Business Excellence award winners experienced increased income, sales and total assets during their respective post-implementation periods as compared with their controls.

European evidence that business excellence works
In a similar study to the Hendricks & Singhal study conducted in the US a study sponsored by the European Foundation for Quality Management and British Quality Foundation of 120 award winners found that the winners outperformed comparison companies similar in size and operating in the same industries over a 11 year period.

Australian evidence that business excellence works
A similar index to the US ‘Baldrige index’ was developed in Australia, whereby AU$5000 was notionally invested in business excellence award winners stock in 1990 and compared against the same amount invested in S&P companies. This index reported improved share performance of a factor of 3.5 to 1 among award winners over thirteen years up to 2003. No more recent data on this index are currently available at the time of writing.

In terms of general benefits, a study by Hausner of the University of Wollongong, Australia, examined the performance of 15 manufacturing firms that had participated in the Australian Quality Awards (not only award winners) and demonstrated improvements against a range of KPIs. Hausner requested 15 firms to list the 10 most important performance indicators, and provide quantitative data in respect of those KPIs over an 8 year period.  Hausner found a strong positive correlation between KPI improvement and total business excellence score, and hence concluded that striving for improvements against the Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF) is of interest to all stakeholders as organisational success is tied to the effectiveness of its management practices as reflected through the ABEF.

Click here for additional Australian Evidence.

NZ evidence that business excellence works
A study conducted by Mann and Saunders identified a strong correlation between “Enablers” and “Business Results” when studying Baldrige self-assessment results. Their data indicated that organisations with excellent approaches to leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus and process management are more likely to achieve excellent Business Results (comprising customer satisfaction results, financial and market results, human resource results, and organisational effectiveness results).

Choosing a Self Assessment Method

A business excellence assessment is the most effective means to establish the health of your organisation. There are many tools available to help you to conduct an assessment. But which tool to use?

Assessments methods fall into four general approaches. The linked table below provides a general guide to the time taken to apply a particular approach and depth of feedback that may be expected for each self assessment approach.

  • Choosing a Self Assessment Method