ISO 9001: Stifling Creativity?

Feedback, in any form, deserves careful consideration and thought. And while people tend to prefer the affirming pat on the back, it’s often criticism that facilitates the most meaningful and significant change.

Challenging the status quo—or outright objecting to the way things are done—can encourage healthy discourse and even healthier outcomes. When a dissenter offers up viable alternatives and suggestions, the end decision, result or solution is based on a more thorough decision making process and is often more successful. Like the old saw says, two heads—or in this case, two (or more) opinions—are better than one.

In author Jack Dearing’s opinion piece, “ISO 9001: Could It Be Better?” (p.23), he details what he believes are the standard’s inherent flaws. Dearing is especially critical of the standard’s reliance on third-party audits and suggests that resources devoted to these audits could be put to better use.

“Because of the three laws of resources, I suggest we scrap every requirement that does not make a direct contribution to control and improvement of products and services,” Dearing writes.

He goes on to say that products or services should speak for themselves in terms of quality. “There is nothing better than having a quality product or service to prove how good your quality system is.”

Do ISO 9001 requirements—particularly the third-party audit—throw a monkey wrench into companies’ ability to devote sufficient resources to quality? Share your own opinions on ASQ’s member forums (found on our website, www.asq.org) or e-mail me at editor@asq.org.

In this issue, we also update you on the controversy surrounding San Diego based Premier Inc. receiving a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Critics have questioned Premier’s business practices, as well as the CEO’s seat on the Baldrige Foundation board. Baldrige officials are standing behind their choice, denying a conflict of interest and defending the integrity of the selection process.

“We continue to firmly believe that the process for selecting Baldrige award recipients is free of conflicts of interest and that all of the organizations named as 2006 Baldrige award recipients earned and deserve the award,” said representatives of the Baldrige program in a recent statement.

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