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Volume 7 · Issue 7 · July 2002


An Interview With the New Chair of ISO/TC 176
Management Leadership Key to QMS, Business Success

In April 2002, the ISO Technical Management Board appointed Dr. Trevor Smith to a 5-year term as Chairman of ISO Technical Committee (TC) 176, the TC responsible for the ISO 9000 quality management and quality assurance standards. Dr. Pierre Caillibot, who had served as TC 176 Chairman since June 1997, continued to serve in an advisory role to Dr. Smith until July 1, when Smith assumed the Chairmanship. Smith’s first official act as Chairman will be to chair the next plenary meeting of TC 176 in Acapulco, Mexico, in October 2002.

Dr. Smith, who began his Kodak career in England, is presently Director of Quality for Kodak Canada, Inc., and has held roles since 1973 in technology development, technical production and quality assurance management, with some environmental, health and safety management system responsibilities. He has also been instrumental in the development of the Kodak Six Sigma program. He brings two unique qualities to the role of Chair of TC 176:

  1. In 1992, a year after becoming Quality Assurance Manager for Kodak Canada, Manufacturing, Kodak Canada achieve registration to ISO 9001:1987.
  2. In 1992, Dr. Smith also joined the Canadian Standards Association’s Technical Committee on Environmental Management and subsequently became a Canadian delegate to ISO/TC 207, the TC responsible for ISO 14001 and the other environmental management system (EMS) standards. He was then appointed in 1998 as a liaison delegate from ISO/TC 207 to ISO/TC 176 to help strengthen compatibility between ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.

"I will be continuing in my current role as a Quality Assurance Manager in an international organization, and my management is very pleased with my appointment," affirmed Dr. Smith to THE OUTLOOK. "Management is very supportive of my new role and is helping facilitate it by making the time available for my new duties."

Dr. Smith recently granted THE OUTLOOK an interview that will provide you with both an introduction to the new Chairman in his own words and his insights on ISO 9001:2000, the ISO 9000 series as a whole and the future of management systems from both the standards and business points of view.


THE OUTLOOK: Your standards activity background is primarily with TC 207 and your role as a liaison from TC 207 to TC 176, yet your business experience tends to include extensive quality management activity as well as some environmental, health and safety management. What about your experience and background make you a good choice for Chair of TC 176? Do you think your lack of experience with TC 176 will be a hindrance or a benefit to the TC?

Smith: Your question is interesting in that I was asked a similar one when I became a delegate to ISO/TC 207! After all, my background had been primarily quality and I was joining the EMS committee. ISO 9001 was the first management system standard and, as a business user (my company was registered in 1992), I brought management system experience to the field of environmental management. I recall that at that time half of the standards writers for TC 207 were environmental specialists and half were quality personnel. In fact, when asked to represent TC 207 as a liaison delegate to TC 176 it was like coming full circle.

It has been extremely beneficial to me to be involved in standards development across the two disciplines of quality management and environmental management, and I have come to appreciate the role of ISO 9001 all the more in setting quality and business management foundations.

THE OUTLOOK: What motivated you to enter the quality field and then to seek/accept the nomination as Chair of TC 176?

Smith: I am deeply committed to quality in all that I do. The ISO standardization process applied to quality management systems in business and society at large makes so much sense as our world becomes smaller and more accessible. The consensus-building process, which is at the core of ISO, is extremely powerful across cultural, economic and geographical boundaries. We need a common "language" to facilitate communication, trade and understanding and promote business and societal growth/improvement.

I did not actually seek the nomination as Chair of TC 176 but, when approached, felt it was an opportunity I could not turn down. I trust that I can make a personal contribution during my tenure.

THE OUTLOOK: What do you view as the role of Chair of an ISO Technical Committee? Do you plan to play a different role than Pierre Caillibot and Reginald Shaughnessy did as Chair of TC 176? If so, what will be different?

Smith: The role of any chair is to ensure that views are freely shared and that the mandate of the organization is achieved. To me it is very much a servant and facilitating role made strong through the rules of the committee process and ISO directives and the tradition of fine leadership. From Reg and Pierre going before me, I have much to learn from them for they have served TC 176 very well. Over the next weeks and months I will endeavor to build on their legacy using my experience and insight.

THE OUTLOOK: At present, the two most well-known standards for which TC 176 is responsible—ISO 9001 and ISO 9004—are in a dormant state as far as drafting and revisions activity is concerned. Thus, what standard or area of activity do you plan to lend your support and attention to at this point? Why?

Smith: With the publication of the ISO 9000:2000 standards, we have strong standards and guidelines for driving toward business excellence. I see the next few years as a time of promoting the application and understanding of these products to a wide variety of users and organizations from very small to very large. Furthermore, in addition to the products it develops (the standards), the Technical Committee—including its constituent committees and working groups—needs to examine itself to continually improve process effectiveness. TC 176 has very strong international leaders and I look forward to working together so that our users and members will see value in all that we do.

THE OUTLOOK: An indicator of the success of the ISO 9000 series is the widespread use of ISO 9001/2/3 as conformance standards, with more than 400,000 organizations worldwide holding certificates of registration. However, the transition to ISO 9001:2000 has been slow and there is concern that many organizations either believe they can wait until the last minute to transition or are not planning to continue their certified/registered status. Are you concerned about this situation? If so, what do you plan to do as Chair, and what would you like to see TC 176 do? If not, how do you view this situation?

Smith: We are now receiving preliminary data on the progress of transition from the old standards to the new one. Although it is slow in some areas, we do know that certification bodies/registrars are working very hard with their clients and helping the process. Often this is a phased-in process, so the number of ISO 9001:2000 registrations to date does not necessarily reflect the true progress towards the December 2003 deadline.

THE OUTLOOK: Based on your personal experience at Kodak and in observing how other organizations manage their operations, do you consider most organizations using ISO 9000 to be benefiting from this usage? If so, in what ways, and could they be getting a lot more from the standards? If they are not benefiting, can they, and what should the organizations do to correct the misuse or poor use of the standards?

Smith: The name Kodak has always been associated with quality, but my feeling is that our worldwide journey to quality excellence and customer delight has been greatly enhanced by ISO 9000 standards applications. The ISO 9000 series consists of best practice standards for quality management. If organizations fully embrace them for what they are, then they will have great impact. My own experience is that pursuit of ISO 9001 simply for the "plaque on the wall" will only lead to internal conflict and wasted effort. The key to success is management leadership. The quality management system cannot and should not be driven from the quality office.

THE OUTLOOK: You became Quality Assurance Manager for Manufacturing at Kodak Canada a year before it achieved registration to ISO 9001:1987. What were your impressions of ISO 9001:1987 during the QMS implementation process in 1991 and 1992 and what impact did implement-ation and registration of a conforming QMS have on Kodak Canada’s operations? What was the subsequent reaction of top management and line employees to the 1994 and 2000 editions and how easy/difficult were/are the transitions?

Smith: The importance of the customer has always been central to ISO 9000 and it has been a management-driven standard from the start, with top management having key responsibility for the system and customer satisfaction. This was a key learning for us at Kodak. The 1987 standard was an excellent guide to best practices in helping functional approaches become more process focused across our organizational boundaries. The 1994 version clarified further some elements but the overall structure of the ISO 9001 standard maintained a checklist rather than systems process focus. With transition to ISO 9001:2000 we are finding that the framework greatly facilitates a mindset of business process quality improvement and pursuit of excellence.

THE OUTLOOK: You are the first Chairman of TC 176 to have not only been at an organization during ISO 9001 implementation, but during the establishment of a Six Sigma program. What do you see as the relationship between ISO 9001:2000 and Six Sigma and how would you like to see the business community use the two together, and why?

Smith: While some quality experts view Six Sigma as an innovative approach that "leaves ISO 9001 behind", I and others view Six Sigma as a QMS methodology that complements ISO 9001:2000, with each supporting and enhancing elements of the other. It is a complementary program, while an ISO 9001-based QMS serves as the foundation for quality. Six Sigma, lean manufacturing and other initiatives are excellent approaches with specific goals, but they rely on that ISO 9001 foundation.

THE OUTLOOK: TC 176 has little control over how the standards it develops are used. What advice do you have for organizations that are interested in using the standards to gain maximum advantage from them?

Smith: What I said about management leadership above applies here as well. Networking with other organizations through industry groups and networks also can be of great help. Try to find linkages at all levels of the organization in which to benchmark and share.

THE OUTLOOK: In April 2002, UKAS suspended use of its accreditation mark on certificates of conformity to ISO 9000 issued in countries where an accredited registrar had not been active previously while investigating complaints about registrars operating in China. Were you informed of this action? Do you think that conformity assessment bodies are doing a good job in establishing an environment in which companies can effectively implement, register and maintain QMSs? If not, what changes would you like to see, whether from the registrar/certification body or client perspective?

Smith: As I transition to my new role, I am being briefed with issues of concern to conformity assessment and accreditation bodies and the use of the standards in general. These bodies have developed guidelines and TC 176 will continue to work with them. We have a clear, mutual need to ensure integrity of the standards and their application.

THE OUTLOOK: During the revision to ISO 9001 and ISO 9004, TC 207 provided Working Group 18 with comments relating to the compatibility of the QMS drafts with the EMS standards. As a former Canadian delegate to TC 207, what role do you think TC 176 should play in support of the working groups that are revising ISO 14001 and ISO 14004? Do you think TC 207 would welcome such support? Do you think TC 176 is prepared to provide such support, or has it already been doing a good job of supporting the EMS revision process?

Smith: Dialogue does in fact continue between the two TCs. There exist liaison memberships in both directions between TC 207 and TC 176 as well as other joint task groups. I think it is essential that this partnership continue and I will do my best to promote it.

THE OUTLOOK: Do you think ISO 9001:2000 went far enough in increasing compatibility with ISO 14001? If so, do you think ISO 14001 needs to be revised to increase its compatibility with ISO 9001:2000 and where? If not, do you think Subcommittee 2 of TC 176 will make additional changes during the next revision of ISO 9001 to increase compatibility and, if so, where?

Smith: The existing standards are quite well-aligned, but of course there is always room for improvement as we move forward. The overlapping revision cycles for ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 tend to seed ideas from one to the other, and I will continue to encourage dialogue so that compatibility becomes a given

THE OUTLOOK: What advice do you have to offer organizations that want to use a QMS effectively? That want to use ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 together?

Smith: Both standards share many elements and a focus that are common and many organizations are already seeing true value in aligning business processes for quality and environmental management.

THE OUTLOOK: TC 210 has reached the DIS stage in its revisions of ISO 13485, which is the application of ISO 9001:1994 to medical device manufacturers at present. However, the DIS does not provide for the full alignment of ISO 13485 with ISO 9001:2000. What is your reaction to this development and what, if anything, should TC 176 do to address this development?

Smith: TC 176 is working with various sectors to understand alignment issues and the use of ISO 9000:2000 text incorporated in other standards and guidelines.

THE OUTLOOK: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing TC 176 in the next 3 years?

Smith: Full application of the 2000 version of ISO 9001 will be key, together with full understanding of different user needs. The ISO 9001:2000 standard does address the total management structure in greater measure than the 1994 version and as such the transition for some organizations may give some difficulty. Earlier, I mentioned that TC 176 structures and processes need to constantly be in sync with the needs of users and so this too will be a focus over the next few years.

THE OUTLOOK: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing you as Chair of TC 176 in the next 3 years?

Smith: It is hard for me to say right now what the greatest challenge will be. Clearly I have a learning curve to navigate! I want to serve all the member and liaison bodies of TC 176 to the best of my ability.

THE OUTLOOK: What do you expect to see as a trend in management systems usage in organizations around the world and what role, if any, should TC 176 play in response to that trend?

Smith: There is growing interest is generic management systems models. Whether this leads to a need for a new standard or guideline I am not sure. There will probably be more interest in use of the standards as best practices for self-assessment. Also, I believe application to small and medium-sized enterprises, new sectors and developing countries will grow but only as fast as we are able to meet their needs.

THE OUTLOOK: Do you have any addi- tional advice that you would like to offer?

Smith: My last word is the need for continued communication and dialogue. We need to remember the strength of ISO relies greatly on the principle of consensus building.

THE OUTLOOK congratulates Dr. Trevor Smith on his appointment and extends best wishes for a productive and quality-driven term.

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