Obtaining ISO and Climbing Mountains
How can we relate the journey of obtaining the ISO 9001 certification to climbing the Maiden Moor and Catbell peaks in England? Well, we can’t. But Missouri Enterprise’s ISO expert and long-time Project Manager Tom Gordon, can.
There is a beautiful series of peaks bordering the west side of the valley of Borrowdale in the English Lake District. Their names are Maiden Moor and Cat Bells. They are not particularly high as mountains go, but they are frustrating and difficult, especially in the winter snow. The route to the top of Cat Bells is by way of the peak of Maiden Moor.
The frustrating part of an otherwise terrific climbing experience is the approach to Cat Bells from Maiden Moor. The path is so very steep that once leaving the peak of Maiden Moor the climber [colloquially known as the ‘Crag Rat’] cannot see over the ridges in front. You climb over one ridge and, lo and behold, there is another one in front of you and another and another. However, once you get to the peak of Cat Bells you have the panorama of Derwentwater, Skiddaw to the north and the Pikes and Great Gable to the south. A great gift to the weary climber, from the last place God made when She was really on form!
This is a metaphor for ISO 9000 certification. Once the certificate is issued many organizations think that it is time to sit on the river bank, put your feet in the cooling waters and send out for beer and pizza. Not by a long way, you have only just reached the top of ‘Maiden Moor’! To be truly effective the journey is far from over. ISO 9004:2018 gives guidelines for enhancing an organization’s ability to achieve sustained success. This guidance is consistent with the quality management principles given in ISO 9000:2015.
ISO 9004 includes a 5-stage maturity model, which aims to take the certified organization to a ‘World Class’ Business System level. ISO 9004:2018 is applicable to any organization, regardless of its size, type and activity. Typically, a sound certification will place the organization’s BMS at about a 2½ or 3 level.
Missouri Enterprise has developed a methodology, based upon practical experience, which takes the basic 9001 QMS and develops it into a Level 5 Business System. There are a number of discrete steps, but the first step is to objectively analyze the existing QMS to determine the ROI of continuing and the degree of Top Management focus to make the journey. Top Management commitment and focus is essential; rather like the novice mountaineer, who picks up the rucksack, takes a look at the looming peaks and decides to stay in the bar!