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By Scott M. Paton

Scott M. Paton

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” So begins A Tale of Two Cities , Charles Dickens’ epic novel. Dickens’ words are just as apropos to today’s uncertain times as they were during the French Revolution, when the novel is set.

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By H. James Harrington

The most important requirement for actuating the improvement process of your management system is to have your full management team participating before the nonmanagement employees become involved in the process. Management must be totally dedicated and actively participating in the improvement process before and after it is presented to the employees. If the process is to work, management must set the standards.

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By Jack E. West

Does ISO 9001 require controlled processes for improvement? By now, I think most users would agree that it does. The requirements for that controlled process are simple to describe. They start with planning.

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By John E. (Jack) West

Without a doubt, the most significant issues about implementing the control requirements in section 7 of ISO 9001 have been related to subclause 7.3 on design and development.

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By Scott Paton

I am a creature of habit. I have favorites (authors, foods, directors, friends, family members, books—not necessarily in that order) that I like to revisit every so often. This is particularly true when I’m stressed out. I reread The Hobbit and Siddhartha every few years, and, of course, I have my annual So I Married an Axe Murderer movie festival.

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By Scott Paton

It’s that time of year when we look back at what we have accomplished, at what we’re thankful for, and what lies ahead in the year to come. What a year 2008 has been: skyrocketing (and plummeting) fuel prices, an election that seemed like it would never end, a flood of foreclosures, a bunch of bank failures, and a sinking stock market.

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By Scott Paton

As of this writing (mid-July 2008) gasoline at my local Chevron station is selling at $4.57 per gallon; rows of giant SUVs sit unsold at the local car dealers; my home energy bill for month of June was $527; airlines are parking jets, dropping routes, and charging passengers for checking bags and seat selection; politicians argue over drilling offshore, building new nuclear power plants, and installing wind farms off the scenic shores of famous politicians’ homes; and, somewhere, Al Gore is smiling.

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By Tom Pyzdek

The quality and process improvement professions tend to rely heavily on statistical information. The very science of quality control can be said to have begun with Walter A. Shewhart’s development of the control chart and discovery of the concepts of special cause and common cause variation. But few would argue with the statement that there is a downside, and a dark side, to statistics. I hereby present a few examples of good, bad, and ugly statistical usage.

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By Tom Pyzdek

The gold standard for modeling the future in a business environment is the designed experiment. Design of experiments (DOE) is a well-developed approach to planning and executing controlled manipulations.

Somewhat less respectable are models derived from historical data. It makes sense to utilize as much of this information as possible, but caution is required. Problems you may encounter are:

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By Jack E. West

If any clause in ISO 9001 has increased in importance since the release of the standard’s 2000 edition, it must be subclause 7.4 on purchasing. Not that the relative importance of the words has changed, but rather purchasing and outsourcing have become much more common and important in our day-to-day business. So the relatively small subclause on controlling purchasing may be much more important now than it was back in 2000. (I addressed outsourced processes in my May column, “Is a Controlled QMS Possible?” More about them later.)