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Thursday, January 9, 2014
More about Volunteer Quality
More about Volunteer Quality
Of all the topics relevant to Quality, in my opinion, the singlemost relevant issue is the role of Voluntary Quality.
As a rule, we humans are best characterized as procrastinators with, of course the best of intentions, but woefully short attention span. Given the opportunity to do something right (the first time) we generally would like to comply, but then we become distracted and more times than not don’t actually get around to following through. It’s not that we are an evil or slothful species, we are however, well intentioned, but easily sidetracked with some occasional shining moments. There are some who might resent my characterization, but with regret, history and the wealth of evidence are on my side.
Many of us over time have tried to keep the ship going in the right direction by building systems and circumstance (police, government and laws, rules, teachers, mothers, standards and Quality Management) to overcome our inherent nature. It seems that with an aggressive oversight we will tend towards more success. In the presence of the watchful eye, we are more likely to do the “right thing”.
In my own situation, I personally tend to complicate myself and those around me with push-back, especially if I think the oversight rules, laws, conventions and pressures are artificial and arbitrary. I always have. To this day I rarely wear a seatbelt, and generally I consider speed-limits more as guidelines. (But I digress). That being said, if I know, understand and respect oversight, odds are that I will be a lot more diligent.
And that brings me to the essence of this posting.
Recently I have been looking at what it takes for me to participate and commit to a set of standards that can provide insight and guidance within the domain of Quality. Clearly we are committed to Quality, but we are just like the rest of our species; the chances of our becoming engaged in a system in which we don’t know and understand and respect the rules, and further don’t know and understand and respect the oversight body, then we will likely not follow-through. We would likely fail to take the document seriously and would in all probability lose interest quickly.
We are not alone. Consider that 75 percent of certifications to ISO 9001 fall apart or fail. For many of the 75 percent who fail, investigation and study indicates there are internal barriers that account for the failure, but I also wonder to what degree the organizations’ respect for their assessment bodies played a role.
Fortunately for us we are part of the remaining 25 percent who continue to be successful after 10 years of participation. We know and understand and respect what ISO9001:2008 can bring to our table.
Recently I have been on the lookout of a new standard to supplement our Quality Management system requirements. We became interested, indeed intrigued with one, which will remain nameless.
Unfortunately after a lot of investigation and discussion we now understand that the document was written by a process that as best as I can tell without regard to community or consensus or validation, and is written by a group that distains oversight of its own process. Interesting when I had a thorough conversation with them about consensus and external validation as components of standards development, their response was “We are not accredited and we don’t have to do any of those things”.
I know what they are doing, and I understand what they are doing, but it is very difficult for me to find that essential third requirement of respect. The chances of our having any on-going success would be very limited. Having a successful first assessment would be a “no-brainer” and I guess we could notch that into our belt as an accomplishment, but the likelihood of sustained follow-through (the true achievement) just wouldn’t happen.
The search continues.
PS: Recently I learned the hard way what happens when you don’t wear a seat belt. You get a heavy fine.
PPS: Looking forward to a positive and successful 2014