I occasionally drive by service organizations that have their ISO 9000 banners displayed outside their building. The reality is ISO offers little in business improvement and much in increasing costs. My counterparts in the UK (95 Consulting Ltd) wrote a book titled “The Case Against ISO 9000″ (by John Seddon) that describes 10 arguments against ISO 9000. Let’s look at them:
- “ISO 9000 encourages organizations to act in ways which make things worse for their customers.”
- “Quality by inspection is not quality.”
- “ISO 9000 starts from the flawed assumption that work is best controlled by specifying and controlling procedures.”
- “The typical method of implementation is bound to cause sub-optimization of performance.”
- “The Standard relies too much on people’s and, in particular, assessor’s interpretation of quality.”
- “When people are subjected to external controls, they will be inclined to pay attention to those things which are affected by the controls.”
- “ISO 9000 has discouraged managers from learning about the theory of a system and the theory of variation.”
- “ISO 9000 has failed to foster good customer-supplier relations.”
- “Coercion does not foster learning.”
- “As an intervention, ISO 9000 has not encouraged managers to think differently.”
Each one of these 10 is a blog in itself. ISO 9000 is a command and control managers dream. Documented processes with inspection, huge cost of documenting, inspecting and getting certified (better to go to a mental hospital to get certified). The old joke about having documented processes for concrete life preservers comes to mind. Regardless, it is a organizational change management method that one colleague describes as “making work as if working.”
Systems thinking offers a better way, without the restrictive documentation, inspection and certification. You can learn more through my free download “Understanding Your Organization as a System.” Take a look, it has great information and exercises to find a better ways to achieve business improvement. Tweet me @ tribabbitt.Share This:
I do not readily agree with this. ISO standard definitely helps organisations to keep with quality and offer excellent products and services.
Your comment is busting with evidence. Have any?
ISO 9000 series of standards when implemented for the right reasons and followed can achieve benefits. Over the past 25 years though, there has been a culture of disinformation among too many in the newly developed ISO Industry from the alleged experts that are either consultants or auditors. The first problem is most consultants have a formula, template cookie cutter approach to implementing (or aiding) organizations in development and implementation. This results in organizations implementing processes that do not fit well with the resource level of the organization. In some instances I’ve seen consulting organization go into existing systems and do not take into consideration how things are currently done.
As an example the U.S. Government has very specific requirement for purchasing, one consulting firm went in and developed purchasing procedures, charging for these and expecting them to be implemented, when in fact the agency already had procedures.
Auditors too (they also tend to consult if not employed full time with a registrar) seem to have a one way approach since they typically come from an industrial sector that tend to carry out processes in a particular manner. I find as well most are not even aware of the interpretations of the standards that are sanctioned or auditing practices that too are sanctioned.
Then there are the executives or owners of the organization. It seem as though most are only vested to obtain the certification. Generally they have seen this registration process as primarily a marketing and sales tool, not something they will benefit from.
At this point, ISO 9XXX is not going away since it has become so entrenched, but hopefully rather than wasting valuable resources and efforts to check a box, it will improve and be used/applied the way it was originally intended.
A common misconception of the ISO QMS standard is that you are required to document a procedure for everything; Of course this would be a colossal waste of resources. The intent of the ISO QMS standard is to document procedures that are critical to meeting customer expectations and to achieve consistency and uniformity of the process (a prerequisite for quality). ISO standards are not perfect and by no means do they guarantee or even indicate you are a quality organization, but I do believe it to be essential in the manufacturing industry.
Interesting post, thank you for sharing. We believe that correctly applied, there are distinct advantages to be gained from applying ISO 9000 and would be interested to read more of your audience’s experiences to date.