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The Future of Management Systems

Posted on June 24, 2010 in Articles

Evolving Quality Management System into a Framework of Operational Excellence

The ever changing global economy coupled with fierce competition and growing sophistication of customer needs warrants a sustained breakthrough performance in key areas of business. While the ISO family of Quality Management System provides the necessary ingredients leading to the success of an organisation, it doesn’t provide the means and the how’s to achieve the company’s vision for sustained breakthrough performance.

We have seen the evolution of the ISO family of standards starting from ISO 9001 with primary focus on effectiveness in satisfying the customer’s requirement. While ISO 9001 gives us a framework to enhance our performance by improving customer satisfaction, employee motivation and continual improvement, it gives due flexibility to identify a specific path or tool in order to accomplish the requirements of a company.

The “anchor” requirements of ISO 9001 focus on WHAT is needed such as:
1. defining processes with effective operation and control
2. providing resources to support operation and monitoring of processes
3. analysis of processes for making fact-based decisions
4. taking actions to achieve planned results and continually improve process performance;

The above are helpful frameworks in managing the processes and its results but does not provide a clear path on HOW these can be achieved.

The supporting ISO 9004 came with an additional focus on the achievement of sustained success through the quality management approach. ISO 9004 offers further help by providing a dichotomy of processes for continual improvement such as small incremental improvement through waste elimination and breakthrough improvement through variation reduction and onward towards risk management and innovation.

ISO 9004:2009 will be a different perspective altogether and it is no longer tied to ISO 9001 but rather presents a different structure and a different scope as reflected in its premise that satisfying customers might bring success, but to sustain success, organisations need to go much further and satisfy the needs and expectations of all interested parties. It is an attempt at applying quality management principles to the pursuit of sustained success in an organisation through constant monitor and analysis of the organisation's business environment up to the regular review of the performance of the organisation. It provides a framework for self-assessment to facilitate the continual review and maturity of the process to a level that can be claimed as a benchmark.

True enough, these perspectives of the stakeholder requirements, management of risk, reduction of waste and variation in the process towards its  maturity and excellence are at the heart of the battle of Lean and Six Sigma, respectively.

While the two standards present good direction, it does not prescribe specific methods for process improvement and innovation. There is no standard for specific methods to improve business results but we can present it through guidelines and best practices such as what the Lean and Six Sigma frameworks provide. Let’s take a look at how Lean and Six Sigma and even beyond Lean Sigma present the link in translating a vision of sustained breakthrough performance into action for the evolution of Management System to Operational Excellence.

The top-down, rigorous and data-driven approach of Six Sigma in driving breakthrough performance improvement fits well with the ISO 9004 recommendation of putting processes in place to identify and manage improvement activities. On the other hand, the bottom-up and tactical approach of Lean melds well with ISO 9004 imploring management to create a culture which involves people with ample delegation of power and authority to identify improvement opportunities. On another note, we see the drive of Six Sigma for managing, benchmarking and on towards innovation while lean intends to manage resources well that shall impact on the financial status and profit standing of any organisation.

In our experience of helping organisations realize their maximum performance, a combined and integrated approach of marrying the strategic, analytical and rigorous philosophies of Six Sigma and the simplified (accomplishing more with less) and rapid nature of Lean provides organisations with a better chance of success in their pursuit of sustained operational excellence. An integrated approach of Lean and Six Sigma has the following attributes:

*  The outcome of the combined effort is far greater than the sum of the outcome of individual efforts
*  A single integrated toolbox for solving a wider array of performance problems
*  Brings into harmony the philosophical strengths of each methodology and not just the tools
*  Pool of Change Agents as Black Belts /Green Belts to drive the organisation towards maturity and
   excellence  through managing improvement projects
*  Relentless drive for perfection to bring out creative and out of the box solutions which triggers
   breakthrough and innovation

A new section in going beyond improvement is identified for companies to charter. It is aided by innovation and learning that goes beyond corrective and preventive improvement provisions of ISO 9001 towards managing processes and project leading to operational excellence, innovation and learning which are key concepts for any organisation aiming to sustain success and be the best in its class.

Neville Clarke’s approach is a compendium of proven best practices collated over years of combined experience in a wide spectrum of industry sectors which further enhances your organisation’s chance of business success. The services can extend from the baseline assessment and lean sigma diagnostics towards lean sigma education with provisions for project coaching and assistance, until effective project implementation all the way to completion and project certifications. Neville Clarke presents a 6E Implementation Roadmap to make the drive to operational excellence a reality for many companies.


I.        Explore           Understand Lean Sigma benefits and be aware of the opportunity

II.      Education        Acquire the knowledge and align the initiative with Business Strategy

III.      Evaluation      Identify and prioritise the opportunities for improvements

IV.     Execution        Execute the projects to realise the benefits

V.      Expansion      Expand internally to support processes

VI.     Extension        Expand externally to the extended value chain

Interested in discussing your requirements? Let’s talk.

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