Braco Forum - excellence in quality
Personal Kaizen®
New courses
Doctorate thesis
Books and articles


Julien BRATU - President AOTS ROMANIA

1. ISO 9000 standards and the moral codes.

We are the lucky witnesses of the end of the 20th century and the start of a new millennium. Perhaps this is a time to look around and in time and see that the 20th century was the century with the most rapid evolution of human kind in its entire history.

If it was to name it in only three words I would call it: "century of the speed of change".

Scientific discoveries in the fields of physics, chemistry, and - most recently - genetics continued by technology engineers made that the speed of the change increase excitingly. But are we, inside ourselves changed spiritually at the same pace? I think not quite.

We are pleased today to see the 2500 year old “Discobolus” of the ancient Greek Phidias, to read the poem “Art of Love” written by the Latin Ovidius two millennia ago or to listen Vivaldi’s “Seasons” composed three centuries before our time. These masterpieces did not get obsolete which means that humans nowadays are close in spirit to these creators therefore they did not change much. We, Romanians, have the opportunity to perceive a truth at the same time sad and happy: if we look at the “political theatre” today and we remember Caragiale’s “O scrisoare pierduta” we almost see Caragiale as our contemporary. We haven’t change much in the last 150 years either. Perhaps this is why nowadays the familiy, respect to nature and faith became increasingly priced values and factors of personal stability.

A French thinker, the writer André Malraux said when asked how the 21st century will be: “The next century will a spiritual one or it will not be at all”

In the present the truth of this statement can be better understood. The faith is the string that crosses the tumultuous mountain river of life that we cross from one bank to another. Faster the water flows harder we have to hold the string. If we let the string go, or if it breaks, we are lost. In order not to break our interior balance we have to have our own moral code and to observe it thoroughly.

In this respect I think that our major objectives as humans and as organizations are mainly two when entering the new century:
  • To succeed to adapt and orient ourselves in the flow of change using our interior compass of moral principles, of our own moral code; “to hold on to the string while in the middle of the changes”
  • To lead the change and not only to react to it. Changes have to be led, not only caused; “to be on the wave, eyes forward”.
Succeeding to lead the change means having a Management of change and the “Management of good change within an organization”, meaning a management of process and process results improvement (products and services) that we know as “Management through Quality”.

Today, after the recent revision, the ISO 9000, ISO 9000-2000 international standards are known as standards of “continuous improvement management”. (*)

In fact we can see that ISO 9000 is a code of good practice, a collection of rules of doing things right in any field of human activity, no matter the type of organization or professional field: from airspace industry to politics (unfortunately for us it was not implemented in this last area yet). ISO 9000 is also a synthesis of good human practices, form all times and places, as they were convened upon by the representatives of the ISO member nations, in this international standard.

2. Good and Bad Are Relative Truths.

What is the connection between moral and quality, between moral codes and quality standards? Concepts of good and bad are the keystone, they are the link between the two notions.

Good and bad are relative truths. They depend on the moral standard we refer to. Good means conformity to that standard and bad - deviation from the standard, non-conformity. It depends on who created the standard of reference. God or the humans. In other words, if it is a natural standard, a genetic code within us for example or a social law, a social convention or an inherited tradition. Let us take a generic example (there were true stories of this kind in human history):

“Suppose that in a Christian country a man kills - with no prior plan to do this - another man in a car accident. He is punished according to the law and convicted to do time in jail for his bad action along with other bad people. He finishes his time in jail and his country declares war to another country. The man is sent to war and there he kills 1000 people, enemies of his country. He is praised, receives medals, he is declared hero and an example to his fellow citizens”.

What shall our fellow understand? Is he a good or a bad man?
According to the moral code in his country by law he is a good man: he defended heroically his country;
According to the Christian morale he killed 1001 people!
Therefore good and bad are relative truths.

In order to clarify better the link between quality standards and moral codes let us see the analogy between ISO 9000 standards and the Christian moral code:

Analog notions:

ISO 9000 Moral Codes
  • conformity
  • good, good action
  • non-conformity
  • bad, sin, bad action
  • quality manual
  • the Bible/ Bushido Code
  • quality policy
  • Icon which we worship/ idol statue
  • training
  • sermon
  • procedure
  • religious service
  • corrective action
  • sin correction
  • non-conformity analysis
  • confession
  • analysis done by the management
  • Doom’s Day

  • Achieving conformity, observing the rules correspond to the feeling of honesty, of honour, to the plan of the moral code. On the contrary creating non-conformities and faults is corespondant to the feeling of shame in the plan of the morale. The shame is psychologically speaking an emotion which normally generates the psychic energy which is needed to correct the fault, to achieve the corrective action needed.

    The famous Japanese specialist Geniki Taguchi said that offering quality products to its clients a company generates more performance for these and brings earnings to the company.

    On the contrary offering low quality products to the clients, costs and losses are generated. Therefore, from this point of view, we can say that the ISO 9000 standard is a moral code of the market economy.

    3. Organization quality: creativity and discipline.

    First management systems appeared within powerful companies in top industry fields in order to keep under control processes and to be more competitive, to have more economic performance. After that, quality systems generalized through their utility as performance management tools in almost all other fields of activity.

    If we understand the role of the organization in general as social means of harmonization between the needs of the individual and those of the organization, an interface between human and the environment, we will be able to define the quality of the organization as a capacity to harmonize this relation.

    Therefore: Can we measure the quality of an organization?

    I think that the essential characteristics of the quality of an organization are its creativity and discipline. This is why: if we accept that the meaning of the notion of quality can be divided as quality of conception and quality of execution then we will be able to define:
    • quality of conception = conformity / adequacy between the needs and requirements of the clients / society / environment and conception of product project / service offered to them
    • quality of execution = conformity between project and product / service done.
    Having in mind that within an organization the process of achieving any action has two major steps:
    • conception of the actionans its execution, we can measure the quality of the conception act through creativity as expression of the capacity to generate efficient ideas, solutions or decisions (adequate to the requirements of the clients / society / environment) and
    • quality of the execution act through discipline as expression of comformity and observance by the whole personnel of values and objectives of the organization and of working rules, set up in the first stage.
    For example, the brainstorming technique as group creativity technique, and at the same time, as statistical technique (according to the requirement 4.20 of the ISO 9000:1994 standard) targets to generate as many ideeas as possible in order to have the possibility to chose the best ones.

    The continuous training with the whole personnel concerning quality (according to requirement 4.18 of the ISO 9000:1994 standard) strengthens its discipline and acknowledgement.

    Therefore, in order to increase the capacity of the organization to adapt to rapid environment changes the quality of the organization must be improved. Increasing creativity within the organization optimal solutions for adaptation and progress will be obtained along with unity and force in action through intensifying discipline.

    4. Three major questions in the Change Management.

    There are several years since we can see that more and more companies in industrialied countries with a good fame or awarded for quality define and declare Vision, Mission or the Values particular to their companies.

    In Japan they even created a rigurous method to define them. Its name is Hoshin Kanri - Management of the Company’s Policy: Is it a commercial fashion or a necessary evolution in the management science?

    I think it is an essential progress realized in the management organization and with a possibility for expansion to the personal management of eachother.

    I also think that we can generalize and affirm the following law of the Change Management:
    • for each of us as individuals or groups, organization respectively, in any action of change we do, we will lead it to good achievement if we answer correctly and in order to the questions:
      • who do we want to become?
      • who are we?
      • how do we get to be what we want to be?
    In other words, we will project any action of change (elementary or complete) on the axis of time as if we project a movement through space, asking the simple questions: where do we want to go? where do we go from? how do we get there?

    In order to check the efficiency of this simple approach we will consider two particular cases:
    • If when designing a Quality Management System, Policy and Objectives are elaborated only by a specialist of the company (quality responsible) and not by the Top Management of the company it is obvious that the Top Management will appear only formally in the policy statement issued (even if it is signed) and the Quality Management System will not be used currently as a management tool.
    • If when power is taken over by a new Government, this one does not present to the people its objectives clearly put, measurable and realistic, if it does not do an objective audit of the state of the nation at the initial moment and does not declare its Development Strategy with concrete and verifiable measures, then it is clear that citizens can expect only to live a precarious life for another 4 years.
    5. Conclusions

    Nowadays, the standards mainly known are Quality Standards ISO 9000, Environent Standards ISO 14000 and the TQM models in form of the criterias for the quality prizes, specific to the three great industrial culture centres in the world: United States, Japan and the European Union.

    It is expected that these standards evoluate and then make a whole, the future ISO 9000 revision in the next decade.
    Management through quality is a management of good change, of progress of people to harmony: harmony with the environment, in balance with the interior harmony.

    I think in this century, Management through Quality will develop more and more to be a moral code of the civilied society and of each individual in his progress through life.

    2003, february

    All rights reserved copyright 2006 BRACO FORUM SRL
    powered by UltraMedia