Quality Magazine

Silent ISO Majority?

May 5, 2003
Former President Richard M. Nixon often mentioned the "Silent Majority," a reference to the many Americans whom he believed supported his administration's policies but did not speak out. Nixon's critics, on the other hand, were often a quite vocal group.

I bring this up because I'm wondering if there might be a silent majority of Quality readers out there on the topic of ISO 9000. The response to my July editorial, "Eliminate ISO 9000?," was the heaviest that we have received in some time. I got lots of e-mails from readers about the piece, which reported the views of Scott Dalgleish, a quality professional who has been publicly critical of the impact of ISO 9000 on manufacturers, and has suggested that companies eliminate ISO 9000 altogether from their quality management systems.

Many of the responses were quite articulate, and some were humorous and entertaining. You can read a sampling in this month's Quality Mailbag department on p. 12.

One thing that struck me about the letters I received is that almost all expressed some level of agreement with Dalgleish, particularly on issues related to excessive ISO 9000 documentation requirements. As you'll see in the Mailbag department, one reader even said that his company has already dropped its ISO 9001 certification with no apparent negative effects.

What surprised me is that the July editorial elicited no ardent rebuttals in defense of ISO 9000. Surely, with some 37,000 U.S. organizations already certified to ISO 9000 (see p. 27 in this issue), there must be some of you out there who are ready to stand up and make your views known about the positive impact that conformance to the ISO standard is having at your company.

If there's a silent majority out there, I'd like to hear from some of you. Send me your thoughts on what's good about ISO 9000 in an e-mail or a letter, along with a daytime phone number for verification purposes. We'll publish a sampling of the responses in a future issue of the magazine.

Scott Dalgleish would also like to hear your feedback. I am pleased to announce that with this issue, we are launching a new column, called "Probing the Limits," that will be written by Dalgleish, an ASQ certified quality manager who works at Spectra Logic Corp., a Boulder, CO, manufacturer. Scott was recently promoted from vice president of manufacturing at Spectra Logic to chief operating officer, but he's still in charge of quality. After 15 years on the front lines of manufacturing, he's got some thought-provoking opinions about the state of the quality profession today that he has agreed to share with Quality's readers.

SomeArial, "Probing the Limits" will contain ideas that are controversial -- such as Scott's contention that ISO 9000 is having a negative impact on the quality movement. But as he says in his introductory column on p. 64, his objective is not to be a rabble rouser, but rather to start a constructive dialog that can lead to positive change. Check out his column and join in the dialog with an e-mail to Scott.

"Probing the Limits" is not the only thing new in this month's issue. As a way to freshen things up and provide information in a more useful format, we are also this month launching a redesigned version of the magazine. The Quality logo has changed to a lighter, more modern-looking font. And we've also moved to a different look and feel for our departments and feature articles, including a smaller, but attractive and readable body type that allows us to bring you more of the important quality information you need to succeed on the job. We hope you enjoy the changes.