I like being informed

As I said in my last blog, this month I’m off to Crewe to attend an ISO 9001: 2008 to ISO 9001: 2015 Transition Event. I’m really looking forward to it for a variety of reasons, one of which it that the location is a nice hotel in the country less than 40 minutes’ drive from where I live! This makes a pleasant change from training locations hours away in large cities or towns. I find that I learn much more effectively if I’m well-rested, relaxed and enjoying myself (who doesn’t?) and so I’ve booked a residential ticket. It means that I can have a pleasant amble around the “extensive grounds” in the evening and then not have any travelling to do in the morning. Get up, get fed, get learning. Marvellous.

Now, there has been quite a lot of nay-saying on the professional social media concerning the proposed changes to the ISO 9001 Standard, which I have had trouble understanding. You see the new ISO 9001: 2015 Standard no longer prescribes a requirement for a Quality Manual. Neither does it prescribe how many documented procedures (known as “documented information” in the new Standard) an organisation must have. This has been taken by some to mean that they can or should bin their manuals and procedures.

I find this unfortunate as it indicates that these people are viewing ISO 9001 more as a box-ticking exercise rather than a set of guidelines for management best-practice. Of the thousands of Standards available, I work routinely with about a dozen and as training people in management “best–practice” is my primary aim (it’ll speed the implementation process and increase the probability that the system will stick), I use clauses from whichever Standard is appropriate to inform the implementation process. Just because it isn’t in the Standard (whichever Standard) in black and white doesn’t mean that doing it is a bad idea.

Organisations that are running an effective and efficient ISO 9001: 2008 compliant QMS, have implemented processes that work for them and meet the Standard. If a Standard then removes, let’s say, a requirement for you to employ competent personnel, does that mean that you drop your processes and take the first person that walks through the door? No, that’s not management, that’s madness. You continue to use job descriptions, training, competence assessments, etc., because that is a good way to ensure that you don’t employ folk who are incompetent.

Anyway, I know that other opinions are available, but as Harlan Ellison said “You are not entitled to your opinion; you are entitled to your informed opinion. If you are not informed on the subject, then your opinion counts for nothing.” I’m off in the next few days to get more “informed”. I’ll let you know what happened when I get back.