Risky Business

Poor practices produce catastrophic results

Nearly 30 miners killed in an explosion; gushing oil in the Gulf: just a couple noteworthy examples of the catastrophic consequences of improper—and irresponsible—risk management.

Quality professionals are devoted to risk assessment and risk management daily: preventing defects, minimizing warrantee claims and verifying suppliers’ adherence to product specifications. It all leads back to the need to mitigate and manage risk.

The benefits of proper risk management are, of course, far-reaching. But, those benefits can extend even further, to validating adherence to ISO standards. That is the subject of this month’s cover story.

"Standards require risk assessment, which is the foundation of risk management," writes Gene Razzetti, the author of "Two in One." "ISO standards require the CEO or a manager aspiring to achieve certification to identify and quantify—in a comprehensive, consistent, replicable and auditable manner—the risks of performing the organization’s mission."

Razzetti goes on to outline a useful spreadsheet-based method for assessing risk and offers a list of the potential benefits of applying it within your organization. Efforts are always more worthwhile when the payback is multiplied.

Also in this issue is a thought-provoking retrospective of quality management, including the four revolutions of quality. In "Past Is Prologue," Everard van Kemenade explains how lessons from quality’s history can help achieve the "essence of quality." He outlines the four quality paradigms by definition, focus, gurus of each paradigm and the various specifications. Kemenade asserts that studying the past can help us determine what the future will look like.

Finally, back to the Gulf: Contributing Editor Nicole Adrian uncovered how ASQ members think a similar spill might be avoided in the future.

"Any enterprise that’s engaged in activities with the potential for public and employee harm should be required to implement quality and risk management systems," said Ben Marguglio, chair of ASQ’s Energy and Environmental Division. "And these systems should be for the prevention of intolerable effects, and these management systems should have a focus on various types of analyses for the quality of hardware design and quality of process design." For more, see "Averting Disaster."

The Gulf oil spill has provided many a quality lesson, from how it might have been prevented, to containment efforts to the quality of seafood and now the cleanup. Stay abreast of all the latest by reading Quality News Today at www.qualityprogress.com.

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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