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How Does Your Organization Leadership Stack Up?

05 July 2018
The new revision of ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D:2016 focuses on “leadership”, but what is the expectation? 

Leadership engagement is critical for the success and effective operation of a Quality Management System.  

With the new revision of the AS9100 standard, the standard writers have almost twice the number of requirements for leadership regarding strategic thinking, accountability, demonstrating leadership, and promoting the Quality Management System. The references to leadership have gone from 12 to 22 instances. 
 
Leadership is a key Quality Principle that transcends the entire Quality Management System. ISO 9000:2015 states “Leaders at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction and create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the organization’s quality objectives. Creation of unity of purpose and the direction and engagement of people enable an organization to align its strategies, policies, processes and resources to achieve its objectives.”
 
Further leadership engagement in the new standard now includes the Quality Management System management representative requirements being assigned to top management. Top management can delegate the activities but is held responsible for the Quality Management System.
 
The ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D:2016 title of clause 5 changed from Management Responsibility to Leadership. This change was purposeful to focus attention to leadership in the Quality Management System, beginning with top management. The organization top management commitment starts at the top and includes those who direct and control the organization at the highest level. 

The AS9100 standard has recognized the importance of top management engagement and therefore requires all Certification Bodies to interview top management at least annually during third-party audits.
 
The leadership requirements are included in ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D:2016 clause 5 but it is expected that leadership be engaged across the entire Quality Management System. 

Top management is required to demonstrate leadership and commitment by:

  • Taking accountability for the effectiveness of the quality management system.  Top management is required to ensure effective measures indicative of process performance are established, tracked, and actions taken when negative trends appear or targets are not achieved. 

  • Ensuring that the quality policy and quality objectives are established and communicated for the quality management system and are compatible with the context and strategic direction of the organization. Top management is required to establish the policy that is the organization’s “North Star” goal. The organizational strategic direction and objectives are in alignment with this quality policy. It is important that the policy, strategy, and objectives are aligned so the organization is moving in a consistent direction.

  • Promoting the use of the process approach and risk-based thinking, including risk and opportunities that can affect conformity of products and services and ensuring the integration of the quality management system requirements into the organization’s business processes. Top management is required to ensure the Quality Management System is effective by meeting customer, statutory, and regulatory requirements; delivering planned results; and having it aligned to the business. If the processes are not effective or efficient, top management takes action.

  • Ensuring that the resources needed for the quality management system are available to achieve objectives with responsibilities and authorities assigned.  If resources are not aligned with the business and risk; top management is required to take action. Top management is required to ensure resources are not only assigned but they are competent to perform the work by ensuring workplace training and education. With the new revision, top management is now also required to ensure that the organizational knowledge necessary for the operation of its processes and product/service conformity is captured, maintained, and shared across the workforce. This ensures the continuing sustainability of organization during resource turnover.

  • Communicating the importance of effective quality management and of conforming to the quality management system requirements and promoting improvements. The new AS9100D:2016 requires awareness of how individuals contribute to product/service conformity, product safety, and the importance of ethical behavior. The rationale surrounding this new awareness requirement is that everyone in the organization contributes to quality, product safety, and ethical behavior. Top management needs to lead by example and be a visible proponent of quality, product safety, and ethical behavior with a focus on enhancing customer satisfaction.

Leadership is key in meeting the organization’s objectives of providing quality products and services to its customers to schedule requirements. Leaders must demonstrate the importance of customer focus and satisfaction because without customers, the organization ceases to exist. 
 
Author: L.L. “Buddy” Cressionnie is the Americas Aerospace Quality System Committee (AAQSC) Chair, Americas Requirements and 9100 Team Leader, and a liaison member of International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 176.  Cressionnie is a Probitas AS9100/AS9110/AS9120 Aerospace Experienced Auditor and an Exemplar Global-certified aerospace auditor and lead auditor for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.