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ISO 9000's transition

In response to Scott M. Paton's March 2001 editorial, I would like to suggest that the issuance of the new ISO 9001:2000 standard is being greeted somewhat coldly because many organizations see the implementation of these requirements as a win/lose venture. One of the revision's positive components is the shift to a more process-based approach to quality, which more accurately depicts the actual workings of industry. Additionally, a more relaxed quality structure is part of ISO 9001:2000, and this will contribute to less painful adjustments. However, one negative element is the absence of an alternative to adopting the new standard, albeit within a two-year-plus window, and this transition will require added costs and measures that existing, efficient quality systems could utilize elsewhere. On a related note, I would like to propose that a major motivating factor in the ISO 9000:

1994 series' "flourishing" --despite it being thrashed by critics --was its status as the only game in town. At the time, European, Asian and other business communities had decided on ISO as the standard bearer of the industrial world, and companies deciding to forgo membership in it saw their international contracts dwindle as a result.

 --Donald Richard Abrams
Quality Manager AGRA Baymont Inc.


Sick of Six Sigma

 In Thomas Pyzdek's April column "Ignore Six Sigma at Your Peril," he states, "Unlike TQM, Six Sigma goes beyond defect reduction to emphasize business process improvement in general which includes cost reduction, cycle-time improvement, increased customer satisfaction and any other metric important to the company."

 Citing the Baldrige Award criteria as a model of a TQM system, I would challenge this statement. Within the criteria is category 6 --Process Management, which " the focal point within the criteria for all key work processes. Built into the category are the central requirements for efficient and effective process management; effective design; a prevention orientation; linkage to suppliers and partners and a focus on supply chain integration; operational performance; cycle time; and evaluation, continuous improvement and organizational learning."

 Based upon this criterion, I don't understand the basis for Pyzdek's position. TQM and Six Sigma are separate approaches but potentially equal in effectiveness. Both are "data/fact driven," evaluate data to determine opportunities, take action on the opportunities, and go beyond defect reduction.

 --Jay Stahan
Quality Manager
Bemis Associates


Patrick Townsend and Joan Gebhardt's April 2001 Last Word editorial made my day. While the world is marching to the ISO 9000 and "Sick Sigma" drummers, companies are spending megabucks with minimal returns.

 I suspect that Six Sigma is going to take a nasty turn. In many companies, "Black Belts" and "Master Black Belts" are being appointed; they have no special training, skills or credentials. I have seen measures of performance distorted in some very large and prominent "Six Sigma companies"; managers were too ignorant to understand what was happening.

 Most "quality managers" are nothing more than purchasing agents buying into the latest fads to show their customers and their management that they are "with it." They show no imagination or creativity, just an "if everybody is doing it, then we should too" mentality.

 --Charlie Hendrix


Caring for your career

In his April editorial, Scott M. Paton makes some excellent points that I think should be followed in good and lean times. His is just a solid, proactive approach to ensure success. I always have trouble understanding the logic of those who won't spend an ounce of effort or a nickel of their own to improve themselves or their companies.

 --Leonard "Len" Zody
Sprint PCS

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