Do you have an ISO9001-2008 personality?

I’m often reminded that not everyone is suited to easily manage an ISO9001-2008 quality management system. So many people are always rushed, always trying to multi-task, and can’t find the focus necessary to properly manage an effective quality system. Fortunately such people often have enough desire and cash to keep folks like me in business.

Company P recently became ISO9001 registered with my help. Company P is small, about 15 people, with 2 owner/managers who know their business, but can’t seem to find ten minutes every now and then to look at the big picture. They’re mired in the day-to-day running of their company. As a consultant, I am not there every day, or even every month. I help out with the specialized stuff (internal audits, document revisions, holding their hand during external audits, etc) but I leave the day-to-day stuff to them. Frankly they don’t do a very good job. It’s not that they can’t, it’s just that they won’t.

So far their lack of participation in their quality management system hasn’t really caused any problems. Like I said earlier, they know their business, they make quality products, and they keep their customers happy. Many people, including Company P’s owners, believe ISO9001-2008 is a necessary evil, just a bunch of unnecessary paperwork, that adds zero value to their company. Of course they don’t come right out and say this to me, but I can tell. I’ve seen it many times. They haven’t experienced the “lightbulb moment”, the small epiphany that some people experience when they finally, really understand what an effective ISO9001-2008 quality system can do for them.

And that’s fine. I’ll admit it helps to have a certain kind of personality when implementing and managing an ISO9001 quality system. You should probably be a little anal-retentive. (Remember Phil Hartman’s “anal-retentive fisherman” on Saturday Night Live?) You should definitely be organized, and able to focus on a problem long enough to figure out what caused the problem, how to fix it, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You should be able to sit down for a few minutes and think, without distraction, about where your company is, and what you can do to improve your operations.

Or, you can hire me!

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