May  2002

Vol. 4, No. 5

ISO: A framework for organizational excellence
by George Hummel

George Hummel is the CEO of IQC, Inc. (, a nationally recognized training and coaching company in quality and environmental systems management. Watch for his regular commentaries on issues related to ISO standards. He can be contacted at

Regardless of your view of the ISO 9000 family of international standards, an examination of the quality management principles published in ISO 9000:2000 are worth examining.

The premise for these principles is that for an organization to be successful, top management must lead and direct in a manner that provides for performance improvement. The guidelines that have been identified for this are:

  • Customer focus: It is vital for an organization to understand its customers’ current and future needs as well as meeting requirements and seeking to exceed customer expectations.

  • Leadership: It is incumbent upon top management to set a clear direction, vision and a framework for unity of purpose within the organization. Leaders create and sustain an environment that motivates people to strive to meet objectives.

  • Involvement of people: People are the essence of the organization. Full involvement of people allows the organization to unleash their skills and abilities.

  • Process approach: Value added results are achieved more efficiently when the organization uses a process approach.

  • Systems approach to management: Processes within the organization are interrelated. People need to identify and manage these interrelated processes as a system if objectives are to be achieved effectively.

  • Continual improvement: Continuous improvement of the organization’s processes, systems, and products must be the internal objective.

  • Factual approach to decision-making: Analysis of data forms the basis of effective decision-making.

  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships: The interdependency of the organization and its suppliers calls for relationships that are mutually beneficial if both are to create value.

No matter where an organization is in its quality journey, or how its people feel about one quality initiative or another, these eight principles make sense. If top management does not adhere to them, then no amount of effort will have success.

Next month, we’ll look at the new structure of ISO 9001 and how an organization can use the Standard as a tool to increase customer satisfaction.


Copyright 2002 PQ Systems.

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