Category Archives: W. Edwards Deming

Quality in action at the CQI Leadership Conference

Paul Simpson reveals what makes this year’s CQI Leadership Conference unique

As ever, I’m delighted to be invited to support the CQI and our efforts to deliver a ‘quality’ message – in this case at the CQI Leadership Conference 2016. It was my great pleasure to draw the straw that meant I represented my co-authors, Jan Gillett and Susannah Clarke,

The CQI Leadership Conference covers the whole picture

The CQI Leadership Conference covers the whole picture

at this year’s conference on ‘Quality in Action’ to take part in a panel discussion on ‘ISO 9001:2015 – Will it deliver real value?’ If the conference is to be a success then it needs to be more than a collection of completely unrelated presentations and panel discussions, so with one eye on the new ISO 9001 requirement to consider ‘Context’, I thought I’d have a look at the first speakers announced – Gerald Ashley and Tim Harford, respectively risk/behaviour expert and author/columnist, and both connected with the financial sector. How much would I have
in common with them and how could my topic
link to theirs?

It’s not difficult to find either speaker on the web and it was good to see that Gerald Ashley is keen to emphasise risk associated with decision making, explain why we make bad decisions and understand the role of people in delivering more predictable, reliable decision-making processes.

Meanwhile, Tim Harford, in columns for the Financial Times, provides an insight into the impact of global economic change on an organisation’s operating environment and the futility of trying to predict a process without reliable data (or a predictable process).

Now what has this got to do with ISO 9001? If you believe the standard is 40-odd pages of text comprising a list of requirements and some limited guidance as to how to ‘check the box’ then the answer will be ‘not a lot’. But, if you go beyond a compliance mindset and individual clause-based requirements, to consider the underlying seven quality management principles and four elements of the System of Profound Knowledge promoted by Dr Deming (listed below) you will see common threads throughout:

  • Appreciation for a System,
  • Knowledge of Variation,
  • Theory of Knowledge, and
  • Psychology.

With this starting to put some context to my panel discussion, I was already becoming more hopeful that I can manage the risks and opportunities that the session presents, when Jan, one of my PMI co-authors, sent through a link to a recently published National Audit Office report on work they have been undertaking since 2010 into government capability. In their work with 32 government organisations and 86 processes they identified capability as well as opportunity to improve. The four key themes to bridging the gap between the worst and best organisations are:

  • Having a customer focus
  • Managing from a whole system, end-to-end perspective
  • Building an effective management and leadership environment
  • Using information to improve the business.

Now it just so happens these themes map across to four of the quality management principles underpinning ISO 9001:

  • Customer focus
  • Process approach
  • Leadership
  • Evidence-based decision making.

So this newly acquired understanding of the CQI Conference speakers and the work of the National Audit Office provides further evidence that all the answers are out there. We just need the will to put them to work, with perhaps one further word of advice to the quality profession in the form of the first of Dr Deming’s 14 points, we need to: ‘Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.’

Paul Simpson, CQP FCQI, is co-author of ‘Implementing ISO 9001:2015’ and will be joining the panel debate on ISO 9001 at the CQI Leadership Conference on 13 April in London. Visit the Conference website to book your place.