ISO 9001 and Cultural Change

In her reference guide to quality, Quality Toolbox[1], Nancy R. Tague wrote that:

“Applying any system of quality management requires such tremendous change to an organization’s culture that it is very difficult to accomplish. Picking out just the pieces that are appealing or easy won’t work. Imitating a successful organization won’t work either, because their starting point and their organization are different from yours.

“Quality management can only be successful with a great deal of learning, intense analysis, hard work, and focused attention over an extended period of time.”

I agree with the overall premise, though I take exception with one point. The degree and extent of change depend on a number of factors, age, size, and complexity of the firm being the most obvious. A small, simple organization that’s just coming into being won’t have the same cultural change issues that a governmental or business entity that has existed for over 100 years and has thousands of employees, divided into a number of departments and spread across dozens of locations, will.

Does your organization encourage or resist change?

Do you encourage or do you resist change?

It is for that reason – that cultural change is easier to tackle when an organization is coming into existence than when it is one, two, five, ten, and more years old – that you should lay the groundwork for your quality management system, or QMS, within your first year. This will increase the likelihood of your QMS – and your organization – succeeding now and in the long run. Plan well ahead of time for the learning, intense analysis, hard work, and focused attention.

Your primary goal is to win customers and, once you’ve won them, keep winning them over. “Ensuring customer satisfaction” is one of the key reasons to have a QMS. To win customers and keep winning them over, improve your organization carefully, gradually, and incrementally within the framework of a QMS.

Your ideal quality management system will promote and enable growth and change. It will guide your company’s culture. It will not force you into anything.

[1] Tague, Nancy R., Quality Toolbox (The), ASQ Quality Press (March, 2005), ISBN-13 #978-0873896399.


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Posted in Change management, cultural change, culture, ISO 9001 Certification, quality toolbox

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