Get Better or Get Beat

Get Better or Get Beat!

Quality, remember that word? It has so many definitions and meanings to each and every one of us. Quality has come a long way since the 80’s and the phrase Get better or get beat comes from the US in the late 80’s when they had to do a real push for Quality following the Japanese market success.

So my question is do you think that putting Quality as one of the key elements in the heart of your strategy can give you the competitive advantage you need? Isn’t that one thing we strive in order to survive, market superiority? This lead ahead has to be sustainable and affordable, we need to be efficient and consistent in what we deliver. S. C. Wheelwright identified six characteristics of a strong competitive advantage, so how do these fair with ISO9001:2015?

  1. Driven by customers wants and needs – You need to give your customers value that your competitors are not. The 2015 standard clause 5 is LEADERSHIP and under this category we look at customer focus. It is your responsibility to demonstrate leadership and commitment to ensure customer focus so that all requirements are determined, understood and met. This needs to be related to all interested parties which is why you need to ensure fully understand the context of your organisation. Know the risks and opportunities that can affect your product or service to make sure that you can maintain the focus on enhancing the customer experience.

  2. Makes a significant contribution to the success of the business – I think this is self explanatory but reports have shown that companies who truly embrace the principles of the ISO9001 standard reap the benefits. For a relatively low fee the standard provides a PROVEN METHODOLOGY, techniques and ideas that in turn increase customer confidence, help them operate more efficiently and meet your customer needs consistently.

  3. Matches the organisation’s unique resources with opportunities in the environment – No two companies are exactly alike they have different people, vision and culture. Cause 4 of the new standard covers understanding the CONTEXT of the organisation, so you will need to determine all external & internal issues that are relevant to your purpose and strategy. Purpose is a great word and under ISO9001:2015 you need to be more RISK BASED in your thinking, so what is it that affects your ability to achieve results & fulfill your purpose? Think about your SWOT & PEST analysis opportunities as well as threats, this is what defines your strategy, policies and objectives. With this clear line sight and visibility throughout the organisation your actions and resources will be directly in line with your strategies.

  4. Durable & Lasting, difficult for competitors to copy – Nothing stays unique for long you need to be able to develop and embrace innovation to stay ahead of the game. Clause 10 of the new standard is now IMPROVEMENT stating that you need to select opportunities for improvement, then implement any that meet and enhance existing customer satisfaction and future needs / expectations. Add to this the expanded section on DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT in Clause 8.3 and Clause 6 PLANNING the actions to address threats and opportunities; then you have a formula to capture and develop improvement ideas. Of course customers don’t always know their future needs until they are created, which is why we must innovate!

  5. Provides a basis for further improvement – quite often ideas act as a catalyst and can provide a stream of improvements which can be rolled out step by step. It is important to remember this for changes to your Quality management system. Clause 6.3 PLANNING OF CHANGES reminds us of the emphasis we need to place on ensuring we know the impact of these changes, and carrying things out in a controlled manner.

  6. Provides direction and motivation to the entire organisation – I love this last one as I believe it reflects the new requirements regarding fully understanding the context of your company, then demonstrating LEADERSHIP & COMMITMENT in your strategy. When you embrace ISO9001 and involve everyone it is a team effort. It’s about defining your expectations and boundaries but giving your employees responsibility, trust them to do the job you brought them in to do. This is a favourite of mine and why so many business owners need systems, to have the confidence to let go of the day to day in the business and start working on their business. Employees will do amazing things if given the opportunity and encouragement, so use systems to define your expectations and help them understand where they fit into the bigger picture.

My feelings regarding the ISO9001:2015 standard I hope are clear – I am a convert, but my advice is to ensure you consider three things in order to give you that sought after competitive advantage:

  1. Put it into the right environment – CULTURE IS CRITICAL

  2. Share and involve people on your journey- UNDERSTAND CONTEXT AND LINK IT TO YOUR WHY, YOUR STRATEGY RIGHT DOWN TO HOW YOUR EMPLOYEES CONTRIBUTE TO IT.

  3. Be disciplined and think process – EMBRACE THE PROCESS APPROACH, PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND ADDRESS RISK SO YOU FULLY UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF CHANGES.

Ok so that is a lot put into three points but people like to look at a small number of things as a summary! I hope this has encouraged you to look into Quality Management Systems as a route to giving your company a competitive advantage to your business. I am happy to discuss any of these points or explore stages of improvement that can be rolled out.

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