A Leader’s Roadmap to a Culture of Quality: Building on Forbes Insights-ASQ Leadership Research: Part 1 of 3

This is a guest post by Rob Lawton, an author, executive coach, and expert in creating rapid strategic alignment between enterprise objectives and customer priorities. He has directed strategic and operational improvement initiatives since 1985. Lawton coined the term “customer-centered culture” with his first book, Creating a Customer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovation and Speed (ASQ Quality Press, 1993). He has been published in Brazil, China, the U.K., and is referenced widely. Many of his articles are available at www.imtc3.com. Contact him at Robin.Lawton@icloud.com.

Survey findings in the Forbes Insights-ASQ white paper published in fall of 2014 offer tantalizing insights from leaders and quality professionals.  The report, “Culture of Quality: Accelerating Growth and Performance in the Enterprise,” distills several guidelines from interviewees that can be especially useful with more detail. My purpose in this three-part blog series is to provide the missing and necessary specifics for successful action.

Three research findings rise to the top and are strongly interrelated (report page numbers are shown in parenthesis):
1.    All employees must apply the four key elements of any strategy for building a quality culture.  (Page 8: Boeing’s Ken Shead).
2.    Closely understand customer expectations so you can focus and give them what they want.  Study respondents overwhelmingly report low effectiveness by their organizations in doing so.  (Page 16: Intel’s Stan Miller and Rudy Hacker)
3.    Develop a formal quality policy, common language and leader behaviors as deployment mechanisms. (Pages 18-19, HP’s Rodney Donaville)

Part One in this blog series spells out how to successfully address point #1, above.  Each of the other blogs in the series will cover the practical steps for points 2 and 3.

APPLY FOUR ELEMENTS OF STRATEGY
Ken Shead, vice president of integrated quality, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, says a culture of quality requires and ensures that all employees know:

  • Their product or deliverable
  • Their customer
  • Their customer’s quality expectations
  • How to measure that quality

These four elements look like simple common sense and, therefore, could mistakenly be perceived as not particularly enlightening.  Readers are tempted to say to themselves, “So what?  I already know this.”  Therein lies the problem for anyone wishing to actually assure this is done.  It is absolutely not as easy as it would first appear. Let’s work to close that gap.

The real-life obstacles the change leader and practitioner will encounter when seeking to follow Mr. Shead’s strategy without the rest of the story include the following:
1.    Is the employee to focus on “their product” at the enterprise, business unit, functional group, or personal level?
2.    Is “their product” singular or are there many products an employee might have?  If there are many, how does one prioritize which are most important?
3.    How does someone who does not create widgets such as airplanes, who views their work in terms of service or knowledge (roughly 87% of the post-industrial workforce), define their product?
4.    If the product could refer to something produced at one of four levels (suggested in question #1 above), would “the customer” be the same party for each product?
5.    Once we identify a specific product, are we to focus on the end-users for that product, the brokers (who pass the product to others), or fixers (who modify or correct the product for the benefit of end-users)?  Does it matter if we don’t differentiate them?
6.    Are all end-users equally important?
7.    Are customer expectations the same as requirements and needs?  If not, is it possible to meet all the agreed upon requirements but still end up with unhappy customers?
8.    When seeking to understand customer priorities, is it important to differentiate expectations related to their subjective perception of the product, the product’s objective performance, the process for acquiring and using the product, or the outcome produced by using the product?  How would one do easily this?
9.    Quality is often defined in terms of defects and deficiencies.  If we eliminate things gone wrong, is the result a strong quality culture?
10.    How would one create quality metrics for squishy expectations customers may insist upon such as easy to use, cool, and innovative?

(It turns out Mr. Shead’s elements of strategy match the topics in the first four chapters of my book written more than twenty years ago, Creating a Customer-Centered Culture: Leadership in Quality, Innovation and SpeedYou can see Quality Progress article providing a book synopsis here, item #4. Practical answers to the ten questions above are answered there.

Concrete and easily applied answers to questions 1-4 are provided in Chapter 1 of the referenced book.  All other questions can only be answered successfully when that chapter is understood and applied.  Chapter 2 answers questions 5 and 6, Chapter 3 answers questions 7-9,  Chapter 4 answers question 10.   You’ve now got the key to the rest of the story, thanks to Mr. Shead’s introduction.)

The second blog in this series will outline the specifics of how to take action on the second major research finding:  Closely understand customer expectations.

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Why Should Quality “Go Global”?

We were privileged last week to have with us at ASQ Headquarters in Milwaukee representatives from our global offices in India, Mexico, and China, and our partner organization in Brazil, Quali.  It is a rare treat to get nearly the entire global team together– we also have an office in the United Arab Emirates serving the Middle East and North Africa region–and it is cause for a few minutes of reflection on our global posture.

The first question that may occur to some is, why?  Until our rebranding in 2010, we were the American Society for Quality.  Why do we need to be spread out around the world?  Today I want to discuss ASQ’s reasoning for “going global,” but also to note the importance of making information about quality global in scope and available to all.

First, before we did the first thing to be global, we already were.  Some may consider quality as proprietary—that is, knowledge used by a nation to increase its competitiveness in the world. However, at ASQ, we have had many members all over the world years before we opened offices outside the U.S.  In fact, I suspect from almost the very start ASQ had members who lived outside of North America.

The ideas, the passion for quality, the networking, and the tools were attractive to those who found themselves seeking like-minded quality professionals from many different industries and businesses.  So even if we had NO plans to expand our membership globally, we would still be global.  Given that, we have an obligation to serve our global members. We want them to feel welcome, supported, and listened to.  In some cases that meant we needed a presence on the ground to better understand and serve their needs.

Second, the quality knowledge our members want and need cannot be bounded by borders.  If the Quality Body of Knowledge® is to have any value to our members, it must transcend national borders.  Where is quality making the biggest impact in the healthcare world today?  The U.S.?  India? Canada?  Wherever it is, members of the quality community are hard at work, using quality in ways tried and true and ways new and innovative, and our members want to learn from them, wherever they are.

The QBoK® is not a fixed, stagnant resource.  It is constantly growing and changing, and that evolution is happening from the auto industry in the Czech Republic to the energy industry in China and dozens of different fields in a hundred different countries.  To grow that knowledge, to give our members access to ways quality is making the world a better place, we have to be out in the world.

Third, ASQ is like any other business in one important respect: grow or perish. It’s that simple.  There is no such thing as a benign status quo.  We have to grow means, influence, and members.  Our members themselves demand it, our board demands it, and the quality community throughout the world demands it.  Our global partners don’t fear our growth–most of them welcome it because they grow along with us.

If we are to thrive for the next fifty years, we must achieve an acceptable degree of growth and the evidence is very clear that a significant portion of that growth must come from global markets. (Note that globalization is the one force that has appeared in every edition of ASQ’s Future of Quality study since 1996.)  We know we must attract more young professionals to quality, and to an ever-increasing degree, demographics tell us those young professionals will come from outside the U.S.

This month my question to you is: ASQ’s mission statement talks about increasing the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.  Are we doing enough, throughout the world, to accomplish that mission?

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January Roundup: Quality Inspirations

Do you have a quality role model or inspiration? This was the topic for ASQ’s blogging group, the Influential Voices, in February.  A quality role model could be anyone from a guru to a mentor to a person who is not “in quality” at all, but still embodies quality principles. Here are the main inspirations for ASQ’s Influential Voices:

Family: John Hunter was deeply inspired by his father, a statistician, as well as statistician George P.E. Box. Jimena Calfa writes about being inspired by and learning about quality from her kids. Luciana Paulise remembers the quality lessons she learned from her mother.

Professional mentors: Manu Vora remembers various mentors and thought leaders he encountered during his career.  Lotto Lai blogs about first research supervisor.  Bob Mitchell found inspiration from leaders at 3M. Chad Walters is inspired by fellow lean blogger and onetime ASQ Influential Voice Mark Graban, while Nicole Radziwill is inspired by a psychologist and an activist. Aimee Siegler finds quality inspiration in both her professional and personal life. Rajan Thiyagarajan learned four lessons in quality from his inspiration, a professor.

Icons and beyond: Jennifer Stepniowski is inspired by Steve Jobs.  Edwin Garro writes about quality lessons learned from a famous pediatric surgeon. Sunil Kaushik blogs about finding quality inspiration in an anonymous online forum and TED talk.  And Pam Schodt wrote the intriguingly titled post 5 Keys to Quality Problem Solving I learned in a Pizza Delivery Store.

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Top 8 Books Every Quality Professional Should Read

What books should be on every quality professional’s reading list? This can be a controversial question—ask ten quality professionals and you may get ten different answers. However, there are certain classics and thought leaders that stand the test of time. ASQ staff compiled a list of the top books on quality tools, concepts, and ideas ever published.

Now, it’s your turn. Which of these books have you read? What additions or suggestions do you have for the list?

1. The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, by Nancy R. Tague

This is a classic reference and instruction book for new and seasoned quality professionals alike. It includes a variety of methods, tools, and techniques, from the basics to those created by the author. If there’s just one book everyone in quality should read, it’s probably Quality Toolbox.

2. Juran’s Quality Handbook, Sixth Edition, by Joseph M. Juran and Joseph A. De Feo

This is the quality management and engineering guide by one of the best known thinkers in quality.

3. Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action by Duke Okes

The focus of the book is not on statistics but on the logic of finding causes. It describes how to solve problems via the analytical process through figures, diagrams, and tools useful for helping make our thinking visible. The primary focus is on solving repetitive problems.

4. Making Change Work by Brien Palmer

They say the only thing constant is change. This is a solid guide to helping organizations prepare for and implement change.

5. The Essential Deming, edited by Joyce Nilsson Orsini PhD

The title says it all. In this book, Fordham University professor and Deming expert Joyce Orsini presents Deming’s most important management principles. The book is a wealth of articles, papers, lectures, and notes on a wide range of topics, but the focus is on Deming’s main message: quality and operations are all about systems, not individual performance; the system has to be designed so that the worker can perform well.

6. Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar H. Schein

This updated edition focuses on the contemporary business environment and demonstrates how leaders must apply principles of culture to achieve organizational goals.

7. Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product by Walter A. Shewhart

This classic by quality giant Walter A. Shewhart laid the foundation for the modern quality control discipline, beginning as an attempt to develop a scientific basis for attaining economic control of quality. In his search for better knowledge of economy in manufacturing, Shewhart touches upon all aspects of statistical quality control.

8. Practical Engineering, Process, and Reliability Statistics by Mark Allen Durivage

This book aims to provide quality professionals in any industry a quick and comprehensive guide to using statistics efficiently.

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Finding Inspiration From Quality Leaders

In December I had the privilege of spending time listening to and learning from Paul O’Neill, a quality thought leader, 2013 Juran Medalist, and  former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

It was one of the most profound engagements I have ever had.  As some of you know, Secretary O’Neill was chairman and CEO of Alcoa from 1987 to 1999, where he retired as chairman at the end of 2000.  He was indisputably and famously successful increasing both the market value and the revenue of Alcoa many times over.  He is now immersed in taking the principles of quality and using them to fix the enormous problems the U.S. faces in healthcare.  As an acknowledged expert in healthcare economics, he uses the same quality principles he espoused and enforced at Alcoa to help healthcare executives and providers cut waste and increase effectiveness and safety.

Secretary O’Neill was gracious, welcoming and fascinating.  He was interested in me as an individual and interested in what we are doing at ASQ.  I asked him to help me understand what he did at Alcoa to be so successful and what I might glean from his current work in the healthcare industry.  I can’t possibly do justice to all he told me, but I will highlight three points that made an enormous impression on me.

  • First, when he went to Alcoa, he surprised everyone by what he made his top priority.  It was not increasing shareholder value, capturing market share, or increasing profits.  It was worker safety.  His board and his top management team were incredulous.  Sure, safety on the job was important, but the most important thing we do?  The CEO’s top priority?  Yes, because, as Secretary O’Neill explained to me, your people are the most precious asset you have.  When they are injured, you don’t have just an interruption in the work, you have real human suffering.  No profit is worth that. Furthermore, on-the-job injuries are enormously expensive and produce absolutely nothing.  Workplace injuries violate the trust between the workers and the company.  The workers count on management to keep them safe even while they do hazardous work.  Finally, if an enterprise cannot instill and enforce the discipline to keep workers safe, what other forms of indiscipline are tolerated?  Sloppy work?  Tardiness and absenteeism?  Low standards tend to breed more low standards.
  • The second point I took away resonated with me as much as the first.  It is simply to treat everyone with dignity and respect.  As CEO Paul O’Neill spoke to everyone as equals and he did not let the trappings of being CEO get in the way of honest, respectful, authentic person-to-person interactions.  This sounded very familiar to me.  In my military career, one of the first things drilled into our heads was called “Schofield’s Definition of Discipline” from General John Schofield (1879).  It expresses a similar theme, “The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment… He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.”
  • The third point sounds simple, but its implications are unforgiving and pervasive.  It is that your aim must be to be the best in the world at everything you do.  This is a radical departure from what most of us think of as improvement. It does not say be better than last year or be better than the guy down the street.  It says you must drive to be the best in the world and he meant exactly that.  When I pressed him on this point, he explained you have to figure out theoretical perfection, measure yourself against that standard, and then figure out how to get there.  You then start systematically eliminating everything that is keeping you from attaining that theoretical level of perfection, keep measuring, and don’t stop until you get there.  My guess is that’s where even a leader as good as Paul O’Neill will lose a lot of potential followers. If you really mean it, this part is very, very tough.  But, as Secretary O’Neill told me, it is also a lot of fun!  I intend to find out.

Keeping all this in mind, my question to you is: Have you met someone whose teachings on quality influenced you or inspired you? What were these lessons? You might name a famous quality guru, but I would encourage you to think of those outside the quality field who nevertheless can teach us key lessons about quality.

Postscript: On a related note about leaders who value quality, I’d like to mention the passing of the former New York State Government Mario Cuomo last week. You may not know of Cuomo or support his politics if you did, but I think it’s worth pointing out how a government leader can be a champion of quality, even if we don’t consider him or her a “quality professional” per se.

For example, Governor Cuomo helped transform New York State’s local motor vehicle departments, reducing wait times and increasing efficiency. He also paved the way for New York’s version of the Baldrige award (then called the Governor’s Excelsior Award and now part of Partners in Performance Excellence). This award led the way in areas beyond traditional quality, including education, health care and not-for-profits. Governor Cuomo made it clear that quality was the standard, and this standard was recognized and aspired to throughout New York State government.

The takeaway: No matter where you’re located, leadership counts.

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December Roundup: What Does Ambition Look Like in Quality?

The word “ambition” can be a loaded one. To some, ambition means striving above and beyond for excellence. To others, ambition can mean overstepping defined goals or boundaries. In December, ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers talked about what ambition means to quality.

Not surprisingly, this became a somewhat contentious topic among the group. Does quality need more ambition, or is ambition the wrong goal for the field? Which side do you take?

Pursuing ambition: Pam Schodt writes about how to encourage the quality message at work. Quality thinking is not just about ambition–it could be the key to putting all aspects of a business together, says Luciana Paulise. Babette Ten Haken encourages us to have an ambitious conversation about quality. Rajan Thiyagarajan talks of importance of collaboration when pursuing quality ambitions. John Priebe writes that ambition means solving problems.

Lotto Lai writes about what ambition means to quality organizations in Asia. Tim McMahon says that an organization’s executives must have high ambitions for quality before we an ask for ambition in others.

And Edwin Garro looks to the famous Latin American comic strip “Mafalda” for a lesson in quality and ambition.

Quality lacks ambition: Sunil Kaushik argues that quality isn’t ambitious beyond the scope of a particular project. Manu Vora agrees, listing ways that quality can improveQuality on the whole is not ambitious enough, and that’s fine, argues Anshuman Tiwari.

What do we mean by ambition? Michael Noble reflects on the definition of quality put forth in Robert Pirsig’s cult classic novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Dan Zrymiak has an epiphany of value, purpose, and function in terms of quality. John Hunter looks to Deming to define and set goals for ambition. Nicole Radziwill responds by discussing Deming’s 14 points in a different context.

To Bob Mitchell, ambition means that “we must increase our agility, become ‘comfortable being uncomfortable,’ and think globally in today’s flattened world.” To Jennifer Stepniowski, ambition in quality is more of a matter of marketing quality, a challenge that she addresses in her post.

Scott Rutherford finds the original question misplaced, arguing that quality is expectation, not ambition.  And Jimena Calfa writes that ambition in quality must be a passion for quality on the part of the individual.

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November Roundup: What Does Leadership Mean to Quality?

Leadership. If you work in any kind of business, you’ve probably heard a lot about it. It’s now accepted wisdom that we need leaders in the workplace. Are quality professionals leaders? How do we make them better leaders? That was ASQ’s topic for discussion in November. ASQ bloggers had interestingly diverse opinions on this topic. Some called for more quality training. Others said that being leader isn’t everyone. For more, see below.

What makes a great leader? Being a considerate person attuned to his or her team is a good start. Tim McMahon writes, “The reality is anyone can lead, but very few lead well. If you want to lead well, you can’t forget the human component.”

Scott Rutherford says leadership must be authentic and come from within—you can’t turn the leader persona on and off. He also writes about the importance of mentorship in leadership.  For John Hunter, “the key is managing with an understanding of respect for people and how that concept fits with the rest of Deming’s management system.”

And Dan Zrymiak writes that a different vision of leadership is now required for the quality field, going from control to transformation. Babette Ten Haken writes that quality leadership takes guts and risk-taking.

How should leaders lead? Manu Vora offers a refresher on leadership basics, and new Influential Voices blogger Luciana Paulise compiles her leadership advice. Jimena Calfa gives a reminder on the difference between leadership and management. Bob Mitchell writes about the role of transformational leadership. And Edwin Garro says we must find the leader within ourselves before we can absorb leadership training.

Leadership in action: Lotto Lai writes about Steve Jobs’ leadership at Apple. New Influential Voices blogger Sunil Kaushik shares examples of out-of-the-box leadership.

Do we really need leaders? Some choose to follow and do it well. Guy Wallace discusses those who don’t want to be leaders–what is their role? Michael Noble is also skeptical about the idea of leadership for all. And Jennifer Stepniowski wonders if quality professionals first need to be better communicators.

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Top 5 Quality Gifts From ASQ

At ASQ, we often talk about giving the gift of quality—that is, the gift of knowledge and tools one needs to practice quality.  ASQ also offers tangible gifts for the quality professional. If you’re searching for a creative or unique gift for a colleague, friend, or boss, we have a few suggestions—from popular books to a membership to a phone case to ASQ golf balls (yes, golf balls).

1.    The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition. This book is always a favorite colleague gift for those starting out in the field, and a timeless refresher for everyone else.

2.    An ASQ membership. This could be a good gift for everyone from students and interns to seasoned professionals. Choose from a student, associate, or a full membership. Along with all the benefits of a membership, ASQ members receive a free monthly gift bundle on a “hot” quality topic, such as the ISO 9001 revision.

3.    ASQ phone case. Or a sweatshirt. Or a bag. Or a pen, a hat, a T-shirt, or golf balls. Did you know that you can get a variety of fun, small gifts with the ASQ logo? See our store for ASQ accessories, office gear, and clothing.

4.    The ASQ Quality Improvement Pocket Guide. This inexpensive pocket guide is a quick, on-the-job reference for anyone interested in making their workplace more effective and efficient. It’s a great gift for quality newbies.

5.   Quality Press Gift Certificate. If you’d like the recipient to choose his or her own book, give a gift certificate to the Quality Press bookstore. The certificate can be redeemed for any of ASQ’s print or e-books, as well as standards and journals.

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Is Quality Ambitious Enough?

This month, I’m trying something a little different for our monthly topic for discussion. I recently read an article by Brooks Carder, a longtime member of ASQ who recently worked with our board. Brooks shared the following piece that he’s written for ASQ’s Human Development and Leadership Division newsletter. I think it is well worth our time to read, discuss, and learn from.

As Brooks points out, we have all gone through some kind of conversion.  We know in our hearts we can help make this world work better.  We don’t need to be over-the-top, but we should have the confidence to tell our story, understand our own value, and inspire others.
You may agree or disagree with Brooks’ piece, but as you read it, keep these two questions in mind:

  • How do we encourage those who work in quality to understand their own value? (Beyond the perception of ourselves as “nerd engineers,” as referenced in Brooks’ piece.)
  • How do we spread the message of quality in a marketplace overflowing with ideas about how to boost profitability and ever-changing management trends?

Here’s Brooks’ piece:

One of my college roommates recently sent me an intriguing article, “Redefining Capitalism,” published in the McKinsey Quarterly, by Eric Beinhocker and Nick Hanauer. It came under the heading:

“Despite its ability to generate prosperity, capitalism is under attack. By shaking up our long-held assumptions about how and why the system works, we can improve it.”

Just the notion of McKinsey giving a voice to the notion that maximizing profits was not a good thing intrigued me. The gist of the piece is expressed in one of the opening paragraphs:

“Significantly, this view shifts our perspective on how and why markets work from their allocative efficiency to their effectiveness in promoting creativity. It suggests that markets are evolutionary systems that each day carry out millions of simultaneous experiments on ways to make our lives better. In other words, the essential role of capitalism is not allocation—it is creation. Life isn’t drastically better for billions of people today than it was in 1800 because we are allocating the resources of the 19th-century economy more efficiently. Rather, it is better because we have life-saving antibiotics, indoor plumbing, motorized transport, access to vast amounts of information, and an enormous number of technical and social innovations that have become available to much (if not yet all) of the world’s population.”

When I read this, it reinforced my belief that quality is critical to the function of the economy that is described here. But many of us do not appear to realize that. Consider ASQ’s mission: To increase the use and impact of quality in response to the diverse needs of the world.

In my opinion this is not sufficiently ambitious. After all, quality is responsible for many of the things that make life better. Just the change in automobiles would represent major improvement in the quality of life, an improvement that was enabled by quality.

My own version of a mission would be: To improve the function and value of goods and services worldwide, and to facilitate the development of new products and services that improve the quality of life.

You may think that this is too ambitious. After all, are we not just a bunch of nerd engineers, sitting at the end of an assembly line, keeping statistics and occasionally convincing someone to change a process for the better?

Well, we are what we think we are. But we should not just settle for that. We have undergone a conversion, and it’s a conversion that is very much like a religious conversion. We believe in something that most people don’t believe in. The something we believe in can make life better in the here and now. We need to understand that this religion must be preached.

My own conversion was at the feet of the Billy Graham of quality, Dr. W Edwards Deming. I had the great good fortune to attend six of his four-day seminars during the final years of his life, and even had some brief conversations with him. My conversion was literally an epiphany.

As a scientist I had difficulty understanding why business was conducted in the way that it typically was. Deming explained that my instincts were right and showed me the path to apply scientific knowledge and common sense to business.

Each of us has undergone a conversion. Probably many of them have been dramatic. Mine certainly was. So small groups of us get together for dinner once a month and engage in our rituals.  There is no incense, no chanting, no hymns, and no vestments for the leaders, unless you count our leadership team polo shirts.

But our religion is not as healthy as it should be. Our numbers are getting smaller and our members are getting older. Where is our outreach? The Mormons send their best and brightest young people around the world on two-year missions to spread the word.

But before we can mount an effective outreach, we need to appreciate the value of our own conversion, and the huge contribution we can make if we can bring our full capacity forward.

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ISO 9001:2015 – New Terminology, Not a Change in Requirements

This is a guest post by Lorri Hunt, a U.S. technical expert and task group monitor for the next revision to ISO 9001. She is an ASQ Senior member, an Exemplar Global lead auditor, a frequent contributor to quality publications and journals, and a speaker all over the world.  She is the president of Lorri Hunt and Associates Inc.

Author’s Note: ISO 9001:2015 is still in the revision process and subject to change.  Information in this blog should be used with caution when making changes to a quality management system or for legal agreements.

ISO 9001:2015 is currently at the Draft International Stage (DIS) with a scheduled publication date of September 2015. As organizations have gotten their first glance at the proposed changes, many have focused on specific words rather than what the requirements actually say. While a new structure demonstrates the biggest visual change, the standard also uses different words, in some cases, to explain requirements that have existed in ISO 9001 since its infancy.

Some of these changes are based on the fact that the text related to certain concepts is part of the standard structure and common text and definitions that have been established for every management system standard to follow.  This includes documented information instead of documents and records, and the removal of terms such as the “quality manual” and “management representative.” Other terms have been changed by the technical experts who are drafting ISO 9001:2015.  These include “external provider” instead of “supplier” and “applicability” instead of “exclusion.”

In all of these cases, the requirements that relate to them have not changed, just the term.

Management Representative: Requirements for assigning responsibilities and authorities are included in Clause 5.3 Organization Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities. All of the requirements for the role of management representative from ISO 9001:2008 are included with some minor enhancements.  The ISO 9001:2015 DIS just doesn’t define the term.

Quality Manual: The requirements that would have been included in the quality manual from ISO 9001:2008 are included in Clause 4.3 Determining the Scope of the Quality Management System and 4.4 Quality Management System and Its Processes.  The information that was included in the quality manual must be maintained as documented information. It just doesn’t call the documented information a quality manual.

Documented Information: The requirements that were included under control of documents and control of records in ISO 9001:2008 are included in 7.5 Documented Information.  Because there have been substantial changes in how documented information is controlled, the difference between a document and a record has become more difficult.  To help users, the phrase “maintain documented information” is used when referring to the legacy term “document” and the phrase “retain documented information” is used when referring to the legacy term “record.”  Organizations that have a quality management system that is compliant to ISO 9001:2008 requirements should be compliant to ISO 9001:2015 requirements.

Applicability: In ISO 9001:2008, organizations could exclude requirements as long as they did not affect an organization’s ability to provide product that conformed to requirements.  In the DIS, an organization can determine that a requirement does not apply if it does not affect the organization’s ability to ensure that a product or service conforms to requirements.  This application must also be maintained as documented information according to the requirements in 4.3 Determining the Scope of the Quality Management System.

In each of these cases of change of terminology, many users see this as a reduction or change in requirements. However, there has not been a reduction in requirements. The change in terminology is simply providing a less prescriptive standard.  As users begin the transition to ISO 9001:2015 and initiate a gap analysis to the requirements, it is important to not just consider the words that have been written, but the requirements that they represent.

Users of the standard can also continue to use whatever terminology they wish when implementing a quality management system.  This concept is reinforced in Annex A.1 in the DIS for ISO 9001:2015.

Simply put, there is not a need to throw everything you have in your quality management system out, but ensure that your quality management system meets the new requirements in ISO 9001:2015 regardless of the terminology used.

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