ISO 9001:2015 – Practical Leadership
By Michael Haycock, Sr. BRC Consultant
“True *Freedom* is not the absence of structure but rather a clear structure which enables people to work within established boundaries in an autonomous and creative way.”
– Rosabeth Moss Kantor
Of the many books that have been written about Quality, very few have actually been attributed to women. That is both unfortunate and a loss. I have (and have actually read) several of Rosabeth Moss Kantor’s books, and while she does not use a Quality mantra – her message, thoughts, philosophy and writing have been about management and change management within organizations.
They are also about the structure and functioning of organizations for them to be successful – and the leadership that is necessary to give any organization the chance to be successful. While she sees the same issues, concerns and challenges as the rest of us (and on which “Quality” gurus make a fortune) – her perspective is different. Her approach is solid – and real. She is a “good” read.
I used a line from a book as an introduction because we will try to bring a perspective on the new requirements around leadership. Once again we want you to do something that is practical – that means you can get done what is necessary without months of expensive training that will focus on a narrow segment of the organization. Leadership allows and provides the encouragement that you can and should, and will include most (if not all the organization) in the understanding and application of the system within their area of responsibility. The value to the organization will be obvious. That means you should have training – but training that is clear, easily understood and necessarily can be “practically” applied.
Examples are provided for organizational structure in section 4.1 (Note 1 – external, note 2 – internal), and detail of Leadership requirements in section 5. The standard is actually asking us to understand the environment in which we live. Environment may include the “green” part of our world but in this context more specifically the “social, cultural, legal, regulatory, technological, financial, natural and competitive” environment in which we must operate. A Quality management system (ISO) is a tool that does not, can not, work the same for all organizations in all situations – OF COURSE! So while the standard is the same around the world (and down the street), the application should be suited to the individual organization.
The expectation is that management will be clear (as possible) about the nature of the organization and how best to operate – to be successful. Some of this knowledge will be immediately obvious. Some of this knowledge can only come through trial and error. There is also a need to recognize that success is never permanent and the next challenge is just over the horizon.
The System based on ISO 9001:2015 should be integrated within the organization – not an add on. That doesn’t mean environment, health and safety, finance, etc, are not different and require their own specialists. Of course they are – but the processes within the organization can be managed to allow for the differences but accommodate the common goals needed for success in the organization.
Leadership is different than management – both in involvement and commitment. Leadership is the ultimate mechanism that brings strength and direction. Leadership is asking you to walk on broken glass…and then walking with you.
My experience when helping with internal audits – it was extremely rare that any senior management would show up for closing meetings. When they did attend, almost without exception, there was an expression of the value in what was learned. (This lends itself most appropriately when the Internal audits were/are done once or maybe twice a year – so the strength of the system can be shared with management at that time.) Top or senior management must be helped to understand the value of the work being done.
My initial audit experience was with registration audits and management was expected (forced) to be present as an indication of commitment. (I know, I know.) It always seemed to me that with an internal audit, you are telling yourself about yourself, and this would be even more important. With the new emphasis on risk, the system (based on the standard) should be practical as well as important for management. Internal audits are the tool to help understand actual compliance to management specified and supported organizational activities.
Risk comes from many sources. From an audit perspective, risk comes from having a defined system where the organization has agreed to carry out certain activities in a prescribed manner – and then not doing so. Based on the Risk, this then lends itself to correction (fix the problem), corrective action (get to the root cause of the problem) or as organization and customers change – change the system to suit. What is important to top management is most typically what is important to people within the organization. Leadership will make it so.
Section 5, Leadership in the standard specifically addresses “Top Management”. As a little aside, we have been fortunate to work with many of you, who although may not specifically be considered Top Management, are undoubtedly leaders. We encourage you to continue your work in those roles.