22 June 2005

In Search Of ISO Value

Interesting bit in a recent issue of Inc Magazine, about ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certifications, particularly for management & creative-type work. The writer basically asks the question "Is it worth it?" and concludes "Well, sometimes... but not always..."

One of the arguements in favor of seeking an ISO certification is that you need to be certified in order to get certain contracts. One proponent of ISO even acknowledges it doesn't make you better, it's just an entry criteria for working with particular organizations.

I'd suggest that if getting a certification doesn't actually help your organization do the work better, then maybe you don't really want to do business with anyone who insists you get the certification anyway (i.e. they want you to do it even if it doesn't actually improve your performance).

3 comments:

Yosh said...

Yes, but how do you know whether an organization meets the requirements of ISO with having them go through certification? Another way to look at this is a verification that the company is as good as they proclaim themselves to be. For instance, I could start Yoshimoto Audio Components and claim that I can create a subwoofer with a .0001 amplitude distortion at 20Hz, but unless I go through the ISO certification process (or some other similar process that outlines strict procedures for quantifiable results) my word doesn't amount to much. Or giving it a little more thrust - what if the company making the parts for the space shuttle were not ISO qualified? Would you put you life on their word?

Dan said...

True, but there's a difference between applying ISO's certification process to a manufacturing operation and applying it to an advertising company, for example... or even to the management activities of a manufacturing company.

I'm not sure ISO prevents people from making unsupported marketing claims (ala minimal amp distortion)... The question is, can you deliver? The other question is, does the ISO approach really help you deliver?

In some cases (like manufacturing), it probably does! But as the guy from Columbia Business School's Deming Center put it, "When you try to make a simple parallel between blowing plastic bottles for detergent and running one-of-a-kind advertising campaigns, the ideas don't carry over in this nice, mechanistic way."

But I could be wrong...

Yosh said...

Good points! :) I always like playing the devil's advocate...hehehe...