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Mike Micklewright

Quality Insider

I’m Excited About ISO 9001:2008!

I was also excited for my 40th birthday.

Published: Monday, January 28, 2008 - 23:00

Question:How did the quality consultant always exceed the expectations of his customers?

Answer:By exceeding the number of invoiced days quoted on his proposal.

¯ I’m so excited! ¯ And I just can’t hide it! ¯

Many of us still refer to ISO 9001:2000 as the “new” standard. Also, many of us know that the ISO 9001 standard is subject to revision every five years. There was the original version of ISO 9001:1987, then ISO 9001:1994 (seven years later), and then ISO 9001:2000 (six years later), and now ISO 9001:2008 (eight years later).

It took eight long years to revise the new standard coming out this year. It must be really cool and full of new requirements to drive improvement, one might think. The $50 cost of the draft version should be well worth it, one would think. The following are some examples of the drastic improvements that will no doubt reshape your quality management system (QMS) and help you further improve your processes:





ISO 9001

ISO 9001:2008 (draft)


Monitor, measure and analyze these processes

Monitor, measure (where applicable), and analyze these processes


… Including details of and justification for any exclusions

… Including details of and justification for any exclusions (See subclause 1.2)


Statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product

Statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to the product


This preservation shall include…

As applicable, preservation shall include


The management responsible for the area being audited shall ensure that actions are taken

Management is responsible for the area being audited shall ensure that and necessary corrections and correctiveactions are taken

OK, I’m being a tiny bit sarcastic once again. These changes won’t shake up your QMS or drive tremendous improvements. Following are the three biggest changes that will require a top-notch consultant to implement and another pre-assessment audit for your company to be certified to ISO 9001:2008. Fasten your Black Belt, here they are:





ISO 9001

ISO 9001:2008 (draft)


Evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken

Ensure the necessary competence has been achieved


Supporting services (such as transport or communication)

Supporting services (such as transport, communication or information systems)


Be identified to enable calibration status to be determined

Have identification to determine its calibration status

I can see it now. Soon we’ll get faxes, e-mails, and phone calls from large consulting organizations, some of them with names similar to those of the registrars themselves:

“Get your company recertified to ISO 9001:2008 in less than 30 days!”

“Don’t even bother to read the complex changes to the standard—we’ll do it all for you!”

“And we GUARANTEE that you will be certified to ISO 9001:2008!”

“Hurry now—before you lose it—and take advantage of our $19,999 introductory offer”

“We also do registration audits, training, and business card, stationery, building signs, and truck paint changes (from ISO 9001:2000 to ISO 9001:2008)”

Once again, sarcasm rears its ugly head. However, I have a difficult time understanding why ISO 9001 couldn’t be improved more. At least when I turned 40 I felt like I improved.

Continual improvement?
Continual improvement extends to processes and products. ISO 9001 is a product, and many believe—including me—that in its present form it’s a very good standard. However, it isn’t perfect and could stand more radical improvements than we see above. Perhaps this might help to invigorate stagnate QMSs throughout the world. (although real change to the registration system is what is most needed to invigorate stagnate QMSs throughout the world. This is a different story, which I’ve written about in the past.)

Products that don’t improve are the results of processes that don’t improve. All of our processes, including those of the International Organization for Standardization and Technical Committee 176 (the authors of ISO 9001), should be continually improved to become more effective over time, which will help to continually improve our products and services.

Since ISO 9001:2008 is essentially not experiencing any real improvement, does this mean the organizations’ and the committee’s processes aren’t improving and they aren’t practicing what they represent? I can only wonder.

In the meantime, it’s not worth spending the $50 for the draft, as I did, nor will it be worth spending the $50 on ISO 9001:2008 when it does finally get published (although you will need to anyway because you are required to have the latest version of external documents).

Why will there not have been more radical changes? In “Quality Hypocrisy”I wrote that at an ISO international conference in 2007, “A top executive of ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) briefed the audience on the upcoming changes to ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 scheduled for release in 2008 and 2009 respectively. He spoke mainly of the larger, more involved changes to ISO 9004 and stated that ISO 9001 wouldn’t change much. He spoke of the many hours that were being devoted to improving ISO 9004. During the Q&A session, I asked if ANAB or some other body had tried to determine the root cause of so many people not using or being unaware of ISO 9004, before putting so much time and effort into improving it. His response was that four or five root causes were discussed, but there was no agreement as to which were the true root causes. He further stated that if “ISO 9004 doesn’t work this time, it might just go away. This is the last chance.”

Isn’t this like spending time and effort on improving fax technology? How can standards professionals spend a great deal of time and money on improving a product without understanding the root cause of very few people using the product? Determining root cause is probably the most important part of improving a quality system, and ANAB, the organization that accredits the companies that certify your company, doesn’t do root cause on its product.

In subclause 0.3 of the ISO 9001:2008 draft, it’s once again written,

“ISO 9004 is recommended as a guide for organizations whose top management wishes to extend the benefits of ISO 9001 in pursuit of systematic and continual improvement of the organization’s overall performance. However, it is not intended for certification or for contractual purposes.”

How many top managers have used ISO 9004 “to extend the benefits of ISO 9001? Has your top management done so? How many top managers even know that ISO 9004 exists?

ISO 9004 is a good document, but if no one knows about it and the system doesn’t change to encourage top management to use it, then the many hours spent to improve an unused product are, in lean words, waste. Furthermore, the time spent improving an unused product could have been better spent on really improving an already good ISO 9001 standard.

How could ISO 9001 be improved? It should be quite simple. Compare, rate, and encourage users to evaluate the current version of ISO 9001 on how well it supports and encourages the eight quality management principles upon which the standard is based, including:

      1. Customer focus

      2. Leadership

      3. Involvement of people

      4. Process approach

      5. System approach to management

      6. Continual improvement

      7. Factual approach to decision making

      8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

Six of these eight principles are addressed well within ISO 9001 and two aren’t. Though the standard could be improved to address all eight principles to varying degrees, the following two principles are barely, if at all, addressed within ISO 9001:

2. Leadership

8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

With the many dozens of companies I have worked with as an independent consultant during the past 13 and a half years, I haven’t seen the leadership qualities of top management change at all, and I see nothing in ISO 9001 to encourage a change in leadership characteristics. I see how ISO 9001 has supported improvement in managing. That’s not leadership.

I also haven’t witnessed any increase in mutually beneficial supplier relationships, nor do I see anything in the ISO 9001 standard to encourage improved relationships. In fact, attaining an ISO 9001 certificate may hurt relationships because it often lets suppliers avoid a real audit from their customers and the opportunity to work together exchanging ideas, resolving problems, communicating, and building the relationship.

ISO 9001 is a good standard that has room for improvements in supporting the eight quality management principles upon which it’s based. The lack of any real changes combined with a weak registration system may someday spell the demise of ISO 9001, and I worry about that because it’s based on sound principles and concepts.

I turn 50 in 2013. I hope I’ll be more excited about ISO 9001:2013 than my 50th birthday!

Question from last article: How is lean like making whoopee? Anne Cooke wins the “Batchin’” video with this answer: Because the more you do it, the more techniques you perfect, and the better it gets.


About The Author

Mike Micklewright’s picture

Mike Micklewright

Mike Micklewright has been teaching and facilitating quality and lean principles worldwide for more than 25 years. He specializes in creating lean and continuous improvement cultures, and has implemented continuous improvement systems and facilitated kaizen/Six Sigma events in hundreds of organizations in the aerospace, automotive, entertainment, manufacturing, food, healthcare, and warehousing industries. Micklewright is the U.S. director and senior consultant for Kaizen Institute. He has an engineering degree from the University of Illinois, and he is ASQ-certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt, quality auditor, quality engineer, manager of quality/operational excellence, and supply chain analyst.

Micklewright hosts a video training series by Kaizen Institute on integrating lean and quality management systems in order to reduce waste.