Julius DeSilva’s picture

By: Julius DeSilva

ISO 9001 certifications have seen a decline during the past two years, per data from ISO. Some say the standard has gotten too complicated with the introduction of organizational context, risk-based thinking, and the removal of mandatory documented procedures. Even a few of QMII’s clients have considered letting their certification lapse because conformity to the new standard was perceived as too complex.

To certify or not

Let’s begin by looking at the purpose of ISO 9001. The standard provides a framework for organizations looking to put in place a system that will enable them to consistently deliver products or services that meet their customers’ requirements and enhance their satisfaction. ISO 9001 certification is external validation that the system meets the requirements of ISO 9001. However, ISO 9001 allows organizations to use the standard and self-declare conformity without incurring the cost of certification. Many argue that there is no value in doing this. This is probably correct if you are implementing a system to meet a contractual or customer requirement. In these cases, certification is a requirement.

Kathleen Wybourn’s picture

By: Kathleen Wybourn

Business continuity is a relatively simple idea. Plan ahead so you can keep your business successful during times of difficulty. Key management transitions, loss of a major customer, the impact of a lawsuit, perhaps a fire or an earthquake. But what if that “difficulty” is a global public health pandemic? An infectious disease that stops the world economic system in its tracks? That triggers something akin to Marshall law, isolates workers in their homes, and forces the shutdown of most businesses, including yours?

How do you keep your business viable if there is no business?

Welcome to Covid-19.

On one handit’s a shocking game changer. A completely unexpected attack on public health and on all forms of economic activity. In this regard, Covid-19 is unlike anything we’ve ever faced. At one point in time all but four states had shut down everything but essential business. Social distancing is the new normal. By mid-April, more than 30 million Americans had filed for unemployment. This respiratory disease that has spread all around the world is a challenge so epic no business continuity plan could have effectively anticipated it.

Multiple Authors
By: Donald J. Wheeler, Al Pfadt

Each day we receive data that seek to quantify the Covid-19 pandemic. These daily values tell us how things have changed from yesterday, and give us the current totals, but they are difficult to understand simply because they are only a small piece of the puzzle. And like pieces of a puzzle, data only begin to make sense when they are placed in context. And the best way to place data in context is with an appropriate graph.

When using epidemiological models to evaluate different scenarios it is common to see graphs that portray the number of new cases, or the demand for services, each day.1 Typically, these graphs look something like the curves in figure 1.

Figure 1: Epidemiological models produce curves of new cases under different scenarios in order to compare peak demands over time. (Click image for larger view.)

Del Williams’s picture

By: Del Williams

We are all familiar with flash memory storage devices, the inexpensive “thumb” drives that you stick into your laptop to store and transfer data. However, there are much more rugged industrial flash drives that perform mission-critical storage functions built into systems that you rely on almost every day. You can find these in healthcare imaging, diagnostic, and therapeutic equipment; in aerospace for jet mission data collection, unmanned aircraft base stations, in-flight wi-fi services, and flight recorders; and in transportation for controlling a locomotive subsystem, recording event data, and launching the operating system for a commercial vehicle tracking system.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

Marketing is all about having a clear vision. To many, that means understanding what you want to see happen, and how you plan to accomplish it.

As important as that is, however, a different and much more imperative vision must come first: the vision of your potential customers and their perception of your brand and offer. How these people locate you, and what they think when they first see your message, is something you must think about long and hard. First impressions are meaningful in real life. They are determinant online.

Questions abound when it comes to customers:
• Who are they?
• Where are they?
• What do they want?
• How do they find me?
• What moves them to act?

To start answering these questions, it helps to build a customer persona that is informed by data about your existing customers as well as some “dreaming” about the customers you want. Be specific. Create the story of your customers and imagine their lives in detail. You need to understand their motivations, their fears, their desires—whatever it is that will connect to what you have that will address their needs.

Stanislav Shekshnia’s picture

By: Stanislav Shekshnia

Corporate boards across Europe are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic in three ways. For some, it’s business as usual. “Crisis is the business of the CEO; the board does not need to adjust its workings,” the chair of one such board told me. Other boards are going in the opposite direction, becoming very engaged, involving themselves in operations and even making key executive decisions. In the words of the leader of such a board: “When the crisis of this scale strikes—we all become executives.”

I am glad that the most widespread reaction is of a third and healthier variety: Boards adapt their routines to reflect the new reality of extreme uncertainty, increase the frequency of meetings, and change their agendas—but stay away from executive functions. The chair of one such board said: “The essence of our work has not changed—we look after the company’s sustainability, we protect shareholders’ value, we provide oversight to management. At the same time, the intensity and formats of our interactions have been adjusted dramatically.”

What exactly do effective boards need to do to navigate the current crisis? My recent interviews with chairs and directors turned up seven questions that could serve as a guide.

Jennifer Chu’s picture

By: Jennifer Chu

The brain is one of our most vulnerable organs, as soft as the softest tofu. Brain implants, on the other hand, are typically made from metal and other rigid materials that, over time, can cause inflammation and the buildup of scar tissue.

MIT engineers are working on developing soft, flexible neural implants that can gently conform to the brain’s contours and monitor activity over longer periods, without aggravating surrounding tissue. Such flexible electronics could be softer alternatives to existing metal-based electrodes designed to monitor brain activity and may also be useful in brain implants that stimulate neural regions to ease symptoms of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and severe depression.

Led by Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering, the research team has now developed a way to 3D print neural probes and other electronic devices that are as soft and flexible as rubber.

The Hechinger Report’s picture

By: The Hechinger Report

Students generally learn about moles, atoms, compounds, and the intricacies of the periodic table in college, but Daniel Fried is convinced kids can learn complex biochemistry topics as early as elementary school.

Fried is an assistant professor of chemistry at Saint Peter’s University in New Jersey, and in his spare time, he creates biochemistry lessons for kids, teaching fourth through sixth graders at a nearby Montessori school and sharing lessons with other teachers and homeschooling parents around the country and world.

“When the kids are young, they’re highly motivated,” Fried says. “It’s easy to teach them. They pick up on the patterns so quickly. They appreciate everything.” High school and college students, by contrast, take a lot more work to engage, and Fried has found getting children interested in biochemistry to be a breeze—especially when they hear they’ll soon be able to correct older siblings or cousins. “The harder part is getting the adults on board to allow it to happen,” he says.

Stephanie Parker’s picture

By: Stephanie Parker

This story was originally published by Knowable Magazine.

An anthropologist looks at the myriad ways we link food to place—and whether it really could make a difference.

“Local food” is a term loaded with virtue for many people. Some with environmental concerns lean toward local because food grown nearby requires less energy for transportation. Others find it reassuring to meet a farmer and know where their food comes from and how it was grown.

Others may think of local food as fresher, more nutritious, and more likely to be grown organically, or they view “local” as a way to boost local economies and invest in their communities.

But the very definition of local food is elusive. If it’s about food that was grown nearby, how nearby should that be? Fifty miles away? One hundred? Somewhere within one’s state or country? And for those whose definition of “local” means pride in regional cuisines, does it matter where the ingredients were grown?

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

The phrase “flatten the curve” means to slow the transmission of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to spread the total number of cases out over a longer period of time. This will avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.1 The model is accurate as presented throughout the internet, but it also overlooks terrible dangers and enormous opportunities.

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