ISO 9001:2015 – Or how to become better Citizens
We have recently completed ISO 9001:2015 certification. We’ve been 9001 certified for as long as I can remember but preparing for the 2015 certification was the most challenging ever.
It made us reflect deeply on the business not just from a performance point of view but its place and role in the community and society at large.
Previous versions of ISO 9001 have been very much focused on the end product – delivering a reliable and satisfactory level of service and product. The new approach recognises that to achieve this smoothly and economically involves people rather than just processes and monitoring systems.
Quality Management Principles (QMP)
The new approach is based on 7 QMPs:
Engagement of People
Evidence Based Decision Making
At its heart is the idea that we should strive for a seamless alignment of the needs of our company, customers, employees, suppliers and for that matter society as a whole.
If this appears to be a strange departure for the commercial world which is focused on making money it really isn’t.
Eliyahu Goldratt, who developed the Theory of Constraints (TOC), proposed that the purpose of business was to;
make money now and in the future!
Underlying this proposition was the idea that you can make money now by exploiting customers, suppliers and/or employees, but you won’t make it in the future because they will find you out in the long run.
Even more helpful is the underlying proposition that:
" if there seems to be a conflict between the needs of different stakeholders you don't look for compromise or balance but find the false assumption that produces the apparent conflict!"
He suggested that one should regard fulfilling the needs of the customers, suppliers, employees and society at large as necessary conditions. From that it follows that making money now and in the future, is also a necessary condition since if you don’t you will not be able to fulfil the others.
Such a view drives some hard thinking. If these sets of needs are necessary conditions, it follows that if something is bad for one its bad for all and equally if something is good for one it is good for all. It means that we should stop looking for “trade-offs” between apparently conflicting needs and realise that any conflict must be driven by a false assumption.
As managers who want to improve the business, our role is to find the false assumptions. In fact, approaching the usual range of management challenges any other way is only treating symptoms.
This approach means we are always focused on resolving the underlying core problem and this makes hard financial sense!
Pride in the organisation
But it also means that employees can be proud of working for a company that delivers a quality product and service in an overtly honest way that benefits society as a whole. They know that their managers genuinely care for them and value their contribution. They give their commitment and loyalty to the company.
The result is unstressed employees and low rates of sickness and absenteeism. It also means you can tap into their initiative and creativity making for a more responsive business.
Your customers will come to realise that you know them and their needs – perhaps better than they know themselves. This builds trust and an easy relationship. Ultimately it means you can choose your customers and work with those that are good to work with.
It also means that our suppliers will work hard for us, we can have open discussions – with most of them - because they really like doing business with us and they offer us good prices without endless negotiation.
Have I had some sort of religious revelation? Not quite, but I have come to appreciate how applying these principles will help us raise our game!
I have always aimed to ensure that Intamet delivers the best possible service and I am proud of what we have achieved but I am looking forward to applying these principles to really elevate what we do both for our customers and that wider community of stakeholders, employees, suppliers and the community at large.