I have to admit, it makes me physically cringe every time. A CV crosses my desk for an experienced quality manager who has been ‘responsible for maintaining 9001 accreditation’. An exciting new tender comes my way, but I’m required to provide evidence of our ‘accreditation to 9001:2000’.
“No!” I want to shout. I reach for a pen, cross out ‘accreditation’ and write ‘certification’ in big bold capitals. I know no one will ever see it, but it makes me feel better.
For those who are wondering if I’ve lost it right now, let me try to explain.
As a business (in whatever sector), we implement a management system that is compliant to 9001 or similar. That implementation is audited by a certification body, who issues a certificate. The business is...
The trouble with auditing is the pre-conceptions. Auditing is widely seen as a punishment. In 10 years of conducting both internal and supplier audits, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard:
“Supplier x isn’t performing, we need to audit them”
“Department Y isn’t following the process, let’s audit to make them”
Or, even from my own teams:
“I can’t do that, what will happen if I get audited?”
(see my blog post on project specific governance frameworks)
Time and again, we fail to understand that an audit is a snapshot. It won’t find every problem, and the result is entirely dependent on what we audit against.
Don’t get me wrong, an audit is a powerful tool, but as auditors and quality professionals, we can make it more powerful by challengin...
Anyone who knows me well (and many that don’t – sorry!) will most likely have found themselves on the receiving end of a passionate lecture about the differences between corrective and preventive action.
All too often, this is triggered when someone asks me (or I’m required to fill in a form) what preventive action will be taken to address a non-conformity that has been raised.
Corrective action is taken to prevent recurrence. To stop it happening again, either in this example, or elsewhere. It is learning from the experience of something going wrong.
Preventive action is taken to prevent occurrence. To stop it happening before it happens. In the language of our businesses, it is risk mitigation.
I had the pleasure of attending Dan Kleinman's presentation to the CQI Thames Valley Branch this month. One of the concepts that really stuck with me is that great leadership depends on context.
Reflecting on this, I realised that the nursery school teacher trying to put on a nativity needs a very different approach than the CEO of a global conglomerate (although some might argue the parallels!). The army officer with multiple overseas tours behind him faces the planning of his teenager's birthday party with no idea where to start. They may be great leaders in their own environments, but give them a different context and the same skills won't apply.
I think that sometimes the leadership context is fr...
As a quality manager in a project based engineering business, I have yet to come across a single project where it is possible to apply our standard management system with no deviations.
Every project has client specific requirements, or local regulations, or other specifics that mean we have to work differently. For my team, a large part of what we do is establishing and supporting pragmatic working processes that maintain compliance, but give the customer and the project team what they need.
These project specific governance frameworks can be difficult to design, and even more difficult to ensure they meet the needs of all the stakeholders. Inevitably they meet resistance from those who understand that they are non-compliant with our corporate QMS.
Learning from experience is one of those challenging processes that everyone wants to do and understands the value of, but is incredibly difficult to implement effectively, even in relatively small or simple organisations.
It seems obvious, we had a non-optimal outcome, so next time, we’ll do it differently. Next time comes along, often elsewhere in the business and we do the same thing, expecting a different outcome. Un-surprisingly, we get the same, non-optimal result, and difficult questions start to be asked.
So why is this so difficult?
It strikes me that to understand the difficulty of organisational learning, we should consider the human psychology and the way a child learns by doing. By touching fire, a child learns that it is hot and it h...
Ruth Mortby, NGN Steering Committee Membership Officer – Corporate, gives us an insight into the role and what is going on behind the scenes.Read more about Ruth, or connect to her on LinkedIn.
Tellus about your role and your responsibilities?
The core part of my role is around increasing the membership of the NGN and the CQI. This centres around membership engagement, adding value to your membership, and being the first point of contact for new members.
What made you go for this role?
For me, quality is about doing good business. This role allows me to work within that context – supporting business needs and proving the value of the quality profession.
Give an example of a typical day?
Currently, my day to day is all about defining strategy and pl...