Getting the Most Out of Your ISO Certification – Part 6: Gain Traction
We’ve explored lots of topics since we began back with the first part of this series, all the way through to part five last month. We’ve focused on powerful EOS tools, showing how they can be leveraged to compliment your ISO certification requirements. Here’s a short summary, starting with the first issue:
Vision – The goal with casting vision is getting everyone in your organization 100% on the same page with where you are going and how you plan to get there.
People – First we must determine the right structure for our organization (define all of the critical functions and roles required to achieve long-term success) and then we set out to ensure that we have the right people in the right seats.
Data – Smart organizational decisions must be made by facts, not emotion. Every person on our team should have at least one number they are measured against; one thing that indicates success.
Issues – This is the part where we attack problems. Driving forward with honesty and openness, we smoke out issues and make them go away. Forever.
Processes – We document the 20% of what we do that gets us 80% of the way there, and then ensure that those procedures are followed by all. With the business systemized, we can better troubleshoot problems when they arise.
Now, as we wrap up this series, let’s talk about how to gain some traction!
Gaining traction means making the vision that you’ve established become a reality. Just imagine for a moment that you’ve taken the time to implement the things that we’ve talked about.
You’ve established a foundation that includes determining your core values (how you operate), your core focus (why you operate), and your marketing strategy (to whom you’re selling and why they’re buying). You carve out your 10-year target, 3-year picture, and 1-year plan so you’ve got a vision to cast to your team. You employ tools to work through every stage to capture data, create processes, deal with people, and smoke out issues so that you know just how to move ahead. Now what?
Now you must create and foster accountability and discipline, which is the area of greatest weakness in most organizations. Just imagine… you’ve come up with all of these fantastic ideas, this amazing vision, and then you get nowhere because your team lacks these two key elements. And all of that amazing vision falls into the abyss, leaving you wondering why your great idea never gained any traction, or why it feels like the business is running you, rather than you running the business. That’s where establishing Rocks and creating a Meeting Pulse come into play.
Envision with me that your day is represented by a clear container. You only have a limited amount of “space” in each day, just like the space inside of that container. So, to represent the hundreds of little things that nag at us for our attention every day (perhaps not as important as some things, but certainly irritating enough for us to put our focus there), we pour some sand into the container.
On top of that sand, we add some small stones, representing the more pressing issues of some consequence that call for our attention. Finally, with our container nearly full, we add in some rocks, which are the truly important things that we must accomplish in order to reach our goal. However, our container is already so full of sand and stones that we’ve got no real room for the rocks! Such is our day, our week, our month, and each quarter that goes by. We get distracted by the small things and derailed from what truly empowers us to be successful.
That is where we get the term “Rocks”. We must consider the vision that we’ve cast to our teams, and together decide what we should give our attention to, enabling us to fulfil that vision and our 10-, 3-, and 1-year plans. And because we’re humans with a limited ability to stay focused, we establish Rocks every 90-days, thus creating a 90-day world of accountability.
So begins what we call the Meeting Pulse – a weekly meeting to check your organization’s vital signs. Rocks are a great tool, but if we leave ourselves in a 90-day world, we all know what will happen for most of us. We’ll readily agree to the Rocks, and then promptly walk out of that meeting and completely neglect them for about 85 days. Then, remembering that there’s a meeting just around the corner, we quickly scramble to get the action done.
The weekly Meeting Pulse is the antidote to this behaviour, bringing your team together to touch bases on progress, issues, data points and more. This keeps your Rocks in the forefront, ensuring that they don’t fall through the cracks.
Weaving in ISO
You can supplement your quarterly ROCK meetings and your weekly PULSE meetings with two of the requirements of ISO 9001, section 9. This section dictates that we regularly review our quality management system:
“Top management shall review the organization’s quality management system, at planned intervals, to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy, effectiveness, and alignment with the strategic direction of the organization.”
ISO 9001 doesn’t dictate the frequency of these reviews, but most companies perform them semi-annually or quarterly. For many organizations, it may make sense to coordinate these with the quarterly rock-setting meeting, since both are key to ensuring that the “ship” we all travel in is moving in the right direction, despite the winds, tides and other external (and some internal) influences which can change our path.
Like weekly PULSE meetings, Internal Quality Audits, found in ISO 9001:2015, clause 9.2, are another tool that can keep you moving toward rock completion. These audits check to ensure that your Quality Management System has appropriate processes in place to measure and address issues with performance and customer satisfaction. When performed in the “space between” management reviews, internal audits ensure that the Quality Management System’s processes are maintained and effective, and that compliance is consistent. Any actions arising from the internal audits can be brought to everyone’s attention before the next management review, during the weekly PULSE meeting.
When we combine the 90-day world with a Meeting Pulse that takes place weekly, we gain traction. Routine, weekly meetings with a very specific agenda that is followed every single time will create the accountability and discipline that it takes to accomplish great things. It will give you the platform that you need to get those issues out on the table and ready to tackle, rather than stuck in someone’s head for months, causing conflict and frustration. The weekly Meeting Pulse is the key to gaining traction and setting you up for success with your management review!
And if a weekly meeting brings on nausea because you can’t stand the idea of “wasting” 90 minutes with your team every single week, then know that you’re simply running meetings wrong. The weekly Meeting Pulse, called a Level 10 Meeting is designed to keep your leadership team focused on what’s most important. It should be passionate, intense, and never boring, unearthing real issues and solving challenges effectively and efficiently.
Simply put, If you want to gain traction toward your vision, get more done, execute better, build more accountability in your organization, communicate better, increase the health of the organization, and increase your bottom line, all while building a cohesive, functional and fun team – learn and implement EOS and pair it with your existing QMS. That’s where great things will happen!
Kirsten Smith is the owner of Made to Thrive Consulting, LLC, an organization born from a passion for excellence in business and a desire to help people and organizations reach a higher potential than they thought they could.
Andy Nichols is an experienced Quality Management consultant, trainer and author.
Reviewed by: Richard Walsh, NQA Principal Assessor Environment & Energy