Org Dev Blog

The Power of Empowerment

As I find myself in my mid-40s, I have noticed a bit of a changing of the tides lately. I’m starting to recognize a shift from spending much of my time ASKING questions to more of my time in ANSWERING questions. One question that I’ve spent a lot of time with lately could be categorized as “What do you wish you knew then that you know now?” with regard to my professional career. While there is more than one answer for me, the answer that seems to illicit a lot of emotion and often times even anger with others is the topic of empowering others - specifically with empowerment around information.

I have found myself around the board room table with thousands of company leaders as a consultant, auditor and instructor. Very rarely does the leadership team say “You know… we’re not doing a very good job at leading our people. We’re not managing as well as we could be by developing our people, tools and other resources.” The day shift thinks the night shift is the problem. The Baby Boomers blame the Millennials. Top management points the finger down the ladder. “They’re so damn lazy…” or something about everyone else being a bunch of idiots. Whatever it is, it ain’t my fault.

Show me an organization where leadership uses this kind of language about their people and I’ll bet we’ll also find a severe lack of empowering others with regard to action and decision making. Metrics are not shared, communication is poor and being a manager (hierarchy) is more important than leadership .

From my perspective, the single most significant factor that differentiates these two types of cultures is empowerment. Randy Boyd, CEO of PetSafe discussed the power of empowerment and how empowerment played a pivotal role in the transformation of his company.

Companies that share relevant key indicators, and teach their associates how to understand the data that is being presented, clearly out-perform those organizations where top management keeps information close to their chests.

Here are a few empowerment benchmarks and best practices observed during my audits and consulting work days:

  1. Stall Art installed in restrooms by the CEO showing cost of quality metrics for the previous month alongside a photo of a Lamborghini and a Ferrari stating “$xxx,xxx = WE PISSED AWAY THESE TWO COMPANY CARS LAST MONTH”.

  2. Real time indicators streamed throughout the facility showing leading indicators such as # of parts produced/hour, # of near miss incidents reported (safety and quality), $ of rework/scrap/repair as a % of overall production, etc. Indicators were not only presented in common areas on TV monitors, but they were also presented on all computer screens as screen savers so even the folks offsite could stay abreast of the latest performance indicators.

  3. Daily stand up meetings performed around a central communication board used to provide visual communication of process-oriented metrics. Each day area leaders would pick an associate at random to tell the story of the posted information. A bit of a pop quiz approach, used to ensure that everyone is aware of past performance, present status and future expectations.

  4. Problem solving groups (PSGs) that are taught how to run their own problem solving sessions, at the place where the work is performed, using simple tools such as the A3, 8D, Corrective Action Forms, etc. Teams are cross-functional and must continue to improve their work by solving issues that effect the customer, create waste or decrease risks by clearing showing a connection between project results and improved indicators.

If you are a leader, I strongly encourage you to empower those that have an effect on the organizational health and improvement strategy. Empower your people then hold them accountable for their results. Be consistent and create an environment that encourages others to act like owners, take risks and learn from their mistakes. You see a difference, I assure you. And let’s not forgot to have a little fun along the way (see Brother’s Osborne video above).

Headshot - Jim Thompson.jpg

James Thompson has over 25 years of experience serving domestic and international organizations in their pursuit of organizational excellence. James also specializes in leadership development and advanced manufacturing techniques.

In 2003, Mr. Thompson founded Concentric in order to advise customers in organizational improvement, process optimization and integrated (concentric) management techniques. James has led hundreds of projects in Lean, ISO 9001, IATF 16949 + AIAG Core Tools, AS9100, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and other organizational excellence (OE) implementation projects. In 2008, he relocated the business to Charleston, SC due to demand in cost reduction efforts, particularly in the automotive & aerospace manufacturing sectors. James is an Exemplar Global accredited QMS Lead Auditor, Certified Master Management Consultant (CMMC) and Lean Six Sigma instructor. You can find more information about him on our website here.

12 Tools for the Ultimate Management System

During my first 25+ years of working with various organizations and leadership team members, I've noticed that most struggle with the concept of a management systems or processes that make up a system. A mentor of mine once stated "No one wants to build a house. But everyone sure as hell shows up when its time to paint it." I thought that was not only really funny but also similar to building and maintaining management systems.

But what the heck is a management system anyway? Think of an individual process as a single gear on a clock. The entire clock is the system. If one or more gears (processes) are defective, the overall performance of the clock is likely compromised. Every gear matters.

Step 1 - Engagement. When I work with teams on management system development (i.e. various 3rd-party certifications) or process improvement (i.e. lean or Six Sigma projects), eyes tend to glaze over. But as soon as I put a colorful spreadsheet up on the screen, the engagement factor goes through the roof! In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the former naysayers and their immediate involvement in the discussion once a tangible tool is presented. "Well... what I would do is create a formula at the bottom of each job function so that the average competency score turns red once we fall below a minimum number of qualified workers." says the Engineering Manager. Five minutes earlier that same manager had a clear look of "This is all b.s.!" on his face. I know. I get it. I feel your pain. Yet the voice inside my mind is screaming "Ahhh HA! I got you on the hook buddy and you don't even know it."

"A person hears only what they understand." - Johann Wolfgang VonGoeth

Step 2 - Ownership. Bottom line... change is hard. Creating new habits is hard. Trying to wrap your head around quality practices and principles is about as fun as doing taxes or updating your Will. But playing with tools such as charts, graphs and spreadsheets is fun. Right?! Creating and maintaining simple, visually appealing tools that are a visual representation of your company's health or your process scorecard, is more likely to gain traction than generic principles or requirements documented in international standards. Am I right?

Step 3 - Maintenance. Instead of talking in concepts, try putting these 12 tools in front of your leadership team. Consider each tool simply a placeholder. You probably have most of these tools in one shape or another. Simply replace the tools that are shown in this video with your tools. Your management system architecture MUST BE YOUR OWN in order to create value and real, long-term improvement.

If I can help in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out via LinkedIn IM, my various socials @jimthompson2001 or

Good luck Fellow Architects!


Transition Upgrade Packages

Transitioning to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, IATF 16949:2016 & AS9100:2016 and more...

Clients and their needs vary from one end of the spectrum to the next. We've worked with clients on simply providing a 1-hour overview of a technical specification or standard all the way to creating an entirely new system from the ground up. Regardless of whether the implementation work is done using internal or external resources, we've identified these distinct 10 steps that must be taken to get from start to registration... and beyond. (Please... we hope you go well beyond certification.)

Step 1 - Gap assessment
Step 2 - Implementation planning & action assignments
Step 3 - Deployment of Management System Architecture (12 Tools)
Step 4 - Documentation creation & modification
Step 5 - Organization training & development
Step 6 - Internal auditing & program development
Step 7 - Management review facilitation & improvement
Step 8 - Readiness review
Step 9 - Guidance during 3rd-party auditing
Step 10 - Assistance with closure of post-audit findings

Need assistance transitioning to the latest standards? Let our experts and quick transition tools get the job done on-time, on-spec and on-budget. We focus on integrating ISO standard requirements with your existing business management processes. We specialize in integrated management systems and overall organizational excellence using a SQDCME approach. We teach process owners how to own with confidence.

2-Day Transition Packages starting at $3,195

  1. Step 1 - Gap assessment (2 days)

5-Day Transition Packages starting at $7,995

  1. Step 1 - Gap assessment (2 days)
  2. Step 2 - Implementation planning & action assignments (2 days)
  3. Step 5 - Training & development (1 day)

10-Day Transition Packages starting at $15,995

  1. Step 1 - Gap assessment (2 days)
  2. Step 2 - Implementation planning & action assignments (2 days)
  3. Step 3 - Deploy of MSArch Tools (2 days)
  4. Step 4 - Documentation modification (1 day)
  5. Step 5 - Training & development (2 days)
  6. Step 6 – Internal auditing & program development (1 day)

Chat with us below for question or more info.

White Paper: Strategic Planning

Download our latest White Paper Keys to Competitiveness using Strategy. In this paper you will learn the tools to begin to developing an organization strategy plan and use it as a foundation for setting your organization up for success. Here is an excerpt:

How important do you feel planning is to remain competitive? Do companies routinely take time to plan? Typically…no. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!) It is far more exciting to be reactive – to be the hero that solves the problem at the time of crisis. Whatever adrenaline rush you get from this, it is a poor way to run a business. Many of your competitors ARE planning. This puts you at a distinct disadvantage. However there are some companies are not planning. So applying this discipline gives you the competitive advantage over others.

It all starts with strong leadership.

Great leaders inspire others to greatness. They get more energy and creativity from their staff than complacent managers. They help create vision, urgency, discipline, and accountability – many keys to successful strategic planning. Leadership is needed for strategic plan development, strategic plan implementation, and strategic plan systematization.

You need to ask yourself this one question… Are you a strong leader that is ready for the strategic planning processes? 

To read the entire White Paper: Keys to Competitiveness Using Strategy you can download it here.

Top 3 Tips for Quality Professionals

Top Tips for Career Advancement for Quality Professionals2014 marks my 20th year as a Quality Assurance professional and devout practitioner. I frequently refer to my career path as a "genetic mutation put to good use”. No matter where I go or what I’m observing, be it personal or professional, it is difficult for me to shut off the portion of my brain that always wants to make things better. Let’s dub this phenomenon “Chronic PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Syndrome”.

Chronic PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Syndrome

Our strengths as quality professionals can also be the very attributes that prevent us from being all that we can be. Just as our “mutations” give us worth in industries requiring attention to detail and the ability to visualize perfection, it is this same attribute that can cripple the forward progress of a thriving business.

Top 3 Tips for Quality Professionals3 Career Tips for the Quality Professional

Using Pareto’s 80/20 Rule (see The Pareto Principle), I’ve narrowed down my long list of lessons learned into the following 3 tips:

  1. Avoid Delayed Perfection
  2. Don’t Take It Personally
  3. Keep Moving Forward

Tip #1 - Avoid Delayed Perfection - Also referred to as “analysis paralysis”, this first tip requires us to walk right up to the edge of a pitfall while being careful not to fall in. Some of the most incredible talents in music, art, writing and product development are started in some dude’s basement because he didn’t want anyone else to see his work until it was perfect. To be honest, I’ve been that dude. I’ll be that dude again many, many times before I’m done.

If you and I owned competing lawn-mowing businesses, and we both had an entire block to mow before sundown (you on one side of the street while I’m on the other), I’m pretty sure that you’d be finished with your 10th and final house while I’m still manually cutting each blade of grass on house #3. Now, assuming that the customer requirements were the same (i.e. mow the yard for $30/yard), we can assume that my efforts would result in the loss of future business.

Quality is nothing without a gig. You can’t do a quality job if you don’t have a job. You won’t have a job for long by only completing 30% of the lawns while your competition is sitting in the truck sipping a cold PBR whilst laughing at you. In this example, you’re probably still in business and I’m probably not.

Note: As I write this blog, I’ve already changed the “1.” to “#1” to “1)” and back three or four times. DANG IT Tip NUMBER ONE!

Tip #2 - Don’t Take It Personally - Being a quality assurance professional comes with the tough duty of trying to convince people, who often times don’t report to you, to execute a process in a specific manner (i.e. best practices, standard work, response to data, etc.). Not only is it difficult to win over the trust of your colleagues at a similar organizational level, but it becomes increasingly difficult the further up you go.

Math is math and facts are facts. But have you ever had a fight with your spouse or other loved-one, presented all of the facts that show you were “right”, while still coming out the loser? Methodology and timing are just as important as facts. If there is a better way to execute a process, reduce waste or protect the customer, stick to your guns. Sometimes a great idea isn’t so great if the timing is off. Its extremely hard to think in terms of improvement when you’re struggling to get through the day. Recognize what is important to the company, as well as the customer, and stay persistent. Don’t give up on your role of taking organizational performance to the next level simply because Mrs. Director of Materials didn’t come to your meeting. Don’t take it personally.

Tip #3 - Keep Moving Forward - The third and final tip is my favorite. I don’t have any tattoos, but if I get one, this would be on the short list (which is why I don’t have any tattoos). In the spirit of improvement and the perpetual PDCA Cycle, you MUST continue to move forward. Competition and stakeholders will always drive the need for improvement. “Improvement” is not going anywhere. Congratulations… the quality profession has a bright future. However, avoid being hypocritical by demonstrating improvement, both personally and professionally.

All 3 words in this tip are extremely important and work hand-in-hand with tips 1 and 2. Do not post-pone movement due to imperfection. Move towards perfection. Do not take it personally when others fail to embrace change with open arms. Change is hard. Remember that. Do not stop. As a quality practitioner, others are looking for you to make it easier to serve the customer and improve the “ease of doing business". Keep moving forward in your quality role. Keep learning. Keep trying new methods and share what you’ve learned with others within your organization.

Even though I make it sound easy, these are not easy tips to implement. Perfectionism is a double-edged sword because while you want to strive for the best quality and to do better and move forward that same perfectionism can paralyze that movement because you’re never ready for the world to know about that thing because its not perfect. Are you a perfectionist? Which of these tips resonates with you the most and how to you plan to implement them?


Jim Blog Signature

p.s. Interested in more advice or personal training for your career development? Contact us to see how we can customize a personal training catered to your specific needs.

To Grow, You Must Get Out Of The Way

About this time each year, I do a lot of reflecting on things gone right and things gone wrong over the past 365.25 days… or so. Today was no different. Actually, it was much more intense than years past. The reason, I suspect, is due to the amount of downtime I had during this holiday break or the burning desire to… get back to work. Huh? While at my office on my first day back, I kicked off the new year by giving last year’s resolution one more pull of the trigger - which was to “take time to celebrate the positive moments, the small accomplishments and just let BE”. (I completely stink at doing this. My approach is more along the lines of “Ok… you did it, but you’re miles behind where you should be on the next goal.” All the while, I realize how stupid it is to stay motivated going into the next project when you already feel like you’re way behind where you should be. Truth is I could easily list off WAY more failures in the past year than I could accomplishments. Don’t judge... I’m working on it.)

Reflecting on 2013

Anyway... as a means of narrowing down the self-fulfilling “Atah Boys” I intended on giving myself for the sake of making the year 2013 happy, I actually challenged myself to look back at the last 10 years and recall an accomplishment that is still alive and kicking today. The most obvious subjects were my two beautiful daughters, Mady & Katelyn. In an attempt to challenge myself a bit more, I spent some time brainstorming ideas using the parameters of “fun” and “sustainable”. Besides, those who know me know that I frequently use the phrase “It’s hard to kill a kid”. Let’s just say that choosing my kids as my reflective kudos would have been the easy way out, hence the mental move onward.

Using the parameters “fun” and “sustainable”, the first accomplishment to come to mind was an outdoor music festival that I founded nearly 10 years ago called the “Greenstock Music Festival”. Although the original name and concept was a little different than what it has become today, Greenstock still continues to bring quality entertainment, camping, music, outdoor sports and innovation to hundreds of event-goers each year; with an eco-friendly and environmentally “off the grid” twist. (Note: that the first adjective used here was “quality”.) This high-quality annual event still thrives today in the backwoods of Brown Country, Indiana - bigger and better than it ever could if I were still at the helm. 2014 marks it’s 10th anniversary.

The smartest thing I did for Greenstock, the most important step in this accomplishment, was to get out of the way.

To grow, personally or professionally, you need to have an exit plan.

I will never forget the bittersweet moment on my last Saturday evening of the festival in mid-August 2009. I love this little festival. My baby. However, trying to run a music festival that you live 700 miles from is something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. In now my second year visiting the festival, traveling all the way from Charleston, I knew this was either the last night of a 5-year festival or the moment I needed to trust my baby in the hands of others. I hated to see the festival, and all of that work that dozens of us had put into it each year, come to an end simply because I had moved. On the other hand, my ego had trouble processing the thought of someone else raising my baby. What if they fail and blame it on me? What if the new parents are better at raising my baby than I am? What if I’m not even missed? What if they succeed and forget about all of the blisters, backaches and late-nights that have paved the way?

After much thought, and a greater interest in the festival living on rather than dying at the hands of my own ego, I introduced my partner, the Proprietor of the festival grounds, to the next family. The next family was a team of band members and management that I knew, without a doubt, would take my baby to the next level. At the moment of making the introduction from one party to the next, I realized two things. First, my real passion in life is not only putting things together that make people’s lives better, but putting people together in an organic and completely unselfish way. I absolutely love making connections. I’m a matchmaker, no doubt about it. The second realization was the feeling I had after making the connection. It was much more like breaking up with a girlfriend, introducing her to the new kid in town, and then sitting back while they make out for the first time. Damn that was hard!

Greenstock ImageToday, I not only remembered that moment 1237 days ago as if it was yesterday, but I also recalled that I had taken a picture of the very moment. I may have seen that photo one other time, but it was sitting there waiting for me today. Until today, I haven’t shared this very emotional moment with anyone. Looking at that picture, remembering that very moment, once again brought intense feelings that can only be described as bittersweet.

So what did all of this teach me today? And how is this story relevant to the New Year, or my profession as a quality expert? To me, this moment is a reminder that to grow - either personally or as an organization - you need to have an exit plan. You need to continue to work yourself out of a job. You need to understand when to get the hell out of the way. Regardless of how important you think your skills or knowledge might be if you’re not moving forward then you’re likely moving backwards. Whether your responsibilities are a festival, climbing the corporate ladder or working your way through academia, you need to ask yourself… how long do you really want to repeat the same day over and over again? Groundhog Day anyone?

In this New Year, and in the words of the great Kenny Rogers, I pledge to improve myself, my company and others around me by knowing when to hold ‘em and knowing when to fold ‘em. Although Kenny was here first… as a Quality professional, I feel compelled to lend more credence to lessons that are accompanied by acronyms (that’s a whole other blog). One of the simplest principles I’ve learned in my professional career is known as “The A.C.E. Principle". In order to improve effectively, you must remember A, C and E or "ADD, CHANGE and ELIMINATE”. In 2014, I challenge you to focus on the “E”. In order to realize the true value of your contributions, you must ask yourself to step aside in order to evaluate the true quality of your work. Leave a comment and let us know what are you going to eliminate in 2014?

All the best in 2014!


Jim Blog Signature

p.s. Interested in more advice on having the best year ever? Check out a previous blog for more tips in making 2014 awesome.

Improving Your Corrective Action Process

If I had to pick one area to focus on within all of the hundreds of management systems I’ve audited over the past 19 years, I would definitely choose the corrective action process. From my experience, and the war stories I hear from other auditors and quality professionals, most organizations just don’t get it. What makes this circumstance even worse is when management insists on “More audits! More Audits! MORE AUDITS!!!” while doing little to nothing about the previous audit findings, repeat customer complaints or piles of supplier issues. That would be similar to handing out tickets for traffic violations with no means of collecting money for fines. (Note: I’m not suggesting that auditors are Police officers.) Here are 10 questions you may want to consider to help improve your procedure for handling nonconformities (actual or potential) and corrective actions as first steps to improving your corrective action process.

1. Are the roles within your corrective action process defined? The following list of roles is a good place to start. Document these roles, ensure these roles are clear and understood, and document them in your written procedure.


  • Originator
  • Assignee
  • Sponsor or Process Owner (if different than Assignee)
  • Problem solving group team members
  • Review Board
  • Approver
  • Evaluator or Effectiveness Checker


2. What are all of the sources of your nonconformities? List them out using the following categories as a guide (think “CIS” with a stutter):


  • Customer complaints – External Customers (includes campaigns, field returns, warranty issues, service reports, etc.)
  • Customer complaints – Internal Customers (sister plants, corporate office, etc.)
  • Internal Product Nonconformities
  • Internal Process Nonconformities (all management system processes apply, not just production)
  • Suppliers – Internal Suppliers (sister plants, corporate office, etc.)
  • Suppliers – External (goods & service)


3. How are these various nonconformities initially captured?


  • Is there a single depository for collecting all types/sources of nonconformities (recommended)?
  • Are there multiple tracking tools for capturing the various types/sources of nonconformities (not recommended)?


4. How are nonconformities reviewed and ranked in order to analyze severity, trends or systematic failures?


  • How severe is the occurrence of a single nonconformity (1X)?
  • How often does this nonconformity occur (1X, 15X, 23056X)?
  • If nonconformity X “snuck into your facility”, how likely would you be to detect its presence vs. passing it along to the next process or customer (1X = easy to detect and 10X = impossible to detect)?
  • Note: Some organizations use a formal ranking system for severity, occurrence and detection to provide an actual score for how risky or significant the nonconformity is or could be. Want to learn more about this approach? Read our FMEA blog.


5. When are nonconformities escalated in order to eliminate the cause to prevent recurrence of the issue via a formal corrective action request or a project (i.e. formal CAPA, major capital project, 6S project, Problem Solving Group, Value-Stream Mapping, etc.)? How does this escalation process work? Who studies the business impact of X and decides which course of action should be taken?


  • Do you have a Nonconformity Review Board (NRB)?
  • Is the escalation automatically based on a scoring system (see item #3 above)?
  • How do you ensure there are not duplicated efforts or assignments? (18 CARs issued to the Purchasing Manager for the same issue is like telling your kid she’s grounded 18 times. One “grounding” should cover it.)


6. What type of progress tracking mechanism is used to ensure clear assignments, appropriate deadlines, progress tracking, etc.? At a minimum, this progress-tracking tool should include:


  • Serial # (unique identifier)
  • Source of the nonconformance
  • Assignee
  • Short description of the issue
  • Expected due date
  • Date done
  • Progress indicator (i.e. % complete)
  • Additional comments field


Ensure the tracking tool is visible and highlights those items that are on schedule, approaching a due date or past the expected due date. (Note: I like red/yellow/green indicators).

7. What types of problem solving tool(s) is/are used in order to clearly identify the root cause?


  • Does your problem solving group facilitator know how to properly use the prescribed root cause analysis tool?
  • Are there multiple root causes considered in the tool being used?
  • Can data be captured to support the root cause(s) analysis conclusion such as % of contribution (i.e. P-value, Pareto, Histogram, etc.)?


8. How are necessary actions determined and assigned during the problem solving process?


  • How is progress reported? (Note: Generally, I would recommend a macro view and top 3 micro view weekly in a top management meeting.)
  • How are assignees of action items notified?
  • Is there a process for acknowledging the action assignments in a timely manner?


9. How is corrective action(s) taken reviewed to ensure it has been effectively addressed?


  • Verification by the assignee or the applicable Process Owner (must be done first)
  • Verification by the Assignor, Originator or via the Internal Auditing Process (must be done second)
  • How is long-term effectiveness evaluated? Consider giving each incident an “effectiveness grade” based on the overall method and evidence. The grade level should be directly proportional to your confidence level in the failure mode never showing its ugly face again.


10. How is the problem solving process documented and recorded for future reference?

Has the initial tracking tool described in item #2 been updated?

Are results of the “Lesson’s Learned” available and shared with other areas, sister plants, stakeholders of similar goods, services or processes within your organization?


  • Has the action to prevent future occurrence been monetized?
    • What is the cost of this instance of the failure mode X (CoPQ or cost of poor quality)?
    • What is the estimated total historical cost of X since inception?
    • What is the value of cost avoidance based on historical costs and future forecasts?
  •  Note: Validate these financial figures by getting input and approval from your CFO, Controller or other Financial Leader.
  • Keep in mind the key to record retention is record retrieval. A good tracking tool with specific codes for each failure mode (i.e. X, Y and Z, etc.) makes future analysis of data much more likely.


Check out The Ultimate CAPA Report below to help you drive the right behavior. Stay posted to future blogs regarding corrective action tools and templates. These will be available on our products store. We also offer CAPA training.

Ultimate CAPA Report


Development of ISO 9001:2015

With ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 currently in the development stages for what could be rather significant changes, quality and environmental professionals gather on the fringes to get a sneak peek of what's to come. Before speculating on projected changes, let's first review the process for the development of ISO standards. Stages of Standard Development

  1. New Work Item (NWIP)
  2. Working Draft (WD)
  3. Committee Draft (CD) - Often times there may be CD1, CD2, etc. for multiple drafts
  4. Draft International Standard (DIS)
  5. Final Draft International Standard (FDIS)
  6. Published International Standard (IS), Technical Report (TR) or Technical Specification (TS)

ISO Standards Development SequenceThe current stage in which the ISO 9001 sits is at "ISO/CD 9001" as of June 3rd, 2013. This means that the document is at "CD" Stage (#3), with a due date for submission of comments and votes on this draft by September 10th, 2013. Significant chatter typically means that there could be a second or perhaps even a third round within the committee draft (CD) stage. While the expectations for release in the "IS" phase is in the year 2015 - hence the frequently referenced ISO 9001:2015 - the final release depends directly upon the voting member bodies. Publication as an "International Standard" requires approval by at least 75% of the member bodies casting a vote.

Stay tuned to the updates by registering to attend our free ISO 9001:2015 Forums.

K. Bird, Head Communication & Content Strategies for ISO posts, "Experts continue to meet to discuss any problems or questions highlighted, until a Draft International Standard is published. The draft then goes out for public comment. Anyone who is interested can contact their national member body with feedback on the draft standard. This is likely to take place during the first half of 2014."

With regard to your current use of ISO 9001:2008, Bird continues by saying "We expect to publish the new version of ISO 9001:2008 by the end of 2015. At that point there will be a transition period (usually two years) before ISO 9001:2008 officially becomes out of date."

So what are some of the projected changes that may be significant to you and your organization?

  1. The replacement of the term "product" with "goods and services". For years, service organizations (like Concentric) have felt a bit left out due to the constant use of the word "product". What if you don't have a physical product? This potential change in terminology could help service organizations better understand how ISO 9001 requirements pertain to them.
  2. Context of the term "the organization". There may be requirements to better clarify what "the organization" means as it pertains to the intent of it's offerings, the context of it's offerings, what an interested party might expect from it's goods and services, and how customer needs are defined.
  3. Process approach. This addition may require subscribers to better adopt the process approach by adding requirements that actually use the words "process approach" rather than hiding this intent in a preface or supplemental document such as ISO 9004. No one cares about how great your department is. We only care about how great your process output is.
  4. Risk vs. preventive action. This is the change that we're rooting the most for - with spirit and banter! Most folks don't really understand what the hell "preventive action" is anyway. However, "risk" is fairly well understood. Most companies we work with have hundreds of corrective actions (reactive), but very little evidence to show deliberate and methodical steps for risk reduction/mitigation or emergency preparedness (proactive). In my opinion, this change is welcome and long overdue. It would also allow for a better integration with standards in health, safety, environmental and responsible care management systems.
  5. Documented information. The terms previous referred to separately as "document" and "records" may be replaced by a single term referred to as "documented information".
  6. Control of external provision of goods and services. This potential change may not be as significant to some sectors such as automotive and aerospace, as the requirements for controlling outsources processes have been backed into ISO/TS 16949 and AS9100 for some time now. This potential addition to the ISO 9001 standard would require controls to be in place for all forms of external influences on goods and services. In short, it may be harder to say "Hey... it's my suppliers fault!" once the new standard is released.

Whatever changes do finally come from the ISO 9001 updates, we here at Concentric are very hopeful that the standard encourages organizations and practitioners alike to bridge the gap between the priorities of top management and management system implementers. Developing systems that maximize the potential of any organization is depend on a unified approach to managing individual processes. Having multiple systems, conflicting objectives and a "silo" approach to management is still one of the great challenges of our generation. I am confident that the next release of ISO 9001 will continue to improve management system structure as organizations worldwide continue to strive towards excellence.

Stay tuned to the updates by registering to attend our free ISO 9001:2015 Forums.

Turtle Diagrams

A "Turtle Diagram" is a quality tool used to visually display process characteristics such as inputs, outputs (expectations), criteria (metrics) and other high-level information to assist in the effective execution and improvement of key business processes.

7 Steps to Having the Best Year Ever

7 Steps to Having the Best Year Ever

Around this time every year, I take a few hours to begin my month-long+ process of reflecting on happenings and results that went right and wrong during the current calendar year.  Do I have the things I wanted to have?  Did I do the things I wanted to do?  Did I become or remain the person that I aimed to be?

The best way for me to evaluate this at the highest level is to review the top priorities I set for myself for the year.  Every year, I come up with a "theme" that is easy for me to write down and, more importantly, easy for me to recall on a regular basis.  In 2009, the theme was "The Year of the G" - girls (my wife and daughters), guitar and golf.  In 2012, the theme as been "Steep Trajectory" - quick improvements in my health, spiritual leadership in my family, personal finances and business development.

Step #1 - Creating a theme or strategy for the year is the starting point of defining and realizing your dreams.  Visualize yourself at the end of 2013 and try to capture as many details in this visualization as possible.  One great example and short exercise that is quick, simple and a lot of fun is to answer the following questions about how December 2013 looks in your dreams:

  • What do you look like in a year from now?  Are you better dressed, thinner, have that mole removed?
  • What daily habits - good and bad - will be different?  More days at at the gym that year?  Less time behind a computer?
  • Is your life more balanced than it is currently?
  • How much time and energy have you spent in helping others?
  • How active have you been in your child's life as a parent, volunteer, mentor and role model?

This morning, as I begin my visualization and commitments to 2013, I have started Step 1 by printing off an annual calendar with a monthly view.  Success in realizing your dreams is to break the dream down into actionable steps that can be taken daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.  I often refer to this as a "Goal Converter".  See examples of how this can be applied to your organization in the Goal Converter blog from June 23, 2011 - from June 23, 2011.

Step #2 - Once you've defined the top 3-5 high level goals for 2013, print out this 2013 Calendar - Monthly View and write in the tactical steps needed to realize your goals.  Start with the simple stuff in order to gain momentum.  Here are some examples:

  • January 15th and July 15th - Schedule dentist appointments
  • Monthly budget review (pick the day that works best for you)
  • Schedule "Dude's Weekend" camping trip for the weekend after Labor Day
  • Document key birthdays, anniversaries and other events
  • Vacation planning - especially MANY MINI vacations throughout the year such as short hikes, camping, festivals, etc.

Step #3 - The next step is to keep this paper copy of the year's plan in front of you as an evergreen rough draft.  Pin it to the board near your desk or carry it in your laptop bag.  Once plans and specific dates are a bit more locked into place, enter these key events and tasks into your favorite electronic program.  I would personally recommend Google Apps in order to manage your calendar, task list, share invitations, organize email, etc.

Step #4 - Take 10-15 minutes every Friday afternoon and again on Sunday evenings to visualize the week ahead.  If you have not already, ensure you have moved all unfinished tasks to the following week.  Add new tasks to the list for the upcoming week.  By visualizing the week ahead and having a method to capture the never-ending number of to-do's, you will minimize the anxiety that can often be associated with the Sunday evening panic.

Step #5 - Take 10-15 minutes every morning to visualize your day.  I call this TWS or "Thoughts While Shaving".  Once you get into the office, or as you sit down for your money cup of coffee, ensure your daily tasks are captured and prioritized.  Make sure you include tasks outside of work such as picking up the kids, hitting the gym, picking up your dry cleaning or calling a friend.  NOTE:  Whatever you do, avoid starting your day off by checking email.  Sure, email is important.  But by starting you day with email, you allow the demands of others or irrelevant distractions to control your day.  Lock in your daily plan, begin working on critical tasks, then check emails.

Step #6 - Reward yourself for closure of individual tasks.  What works well for me is to create an empty box by each task.  Once that task is complete, I check it off.  I then go onto my Google Calendar and mark the electronic task box with a check.  I absolutely LOVE to check the box!

Step #7 - Take the time each week/month/year to go back and review all of the boxes that were checked - signifying the individual steps you took to realize your goals.  Too often (and I'm extremely bad about this), we focus on what we did NOT get done.  We do not take the time to appreciate what WAS done.  Imagine your parents doing this to you.  Don't do it to yourself.  Take the time to celebrate, study, learn and improve.

Thank you for reading this blog.  As a reward, here is a free download:  2013 Calendar - Monthly View (Editable Version)

All the best in the New Year!

"Of all our human resources, the most precious is the desire to improve." - My latest fortune cookie

Turtle Diagrams (via Concentric Management Systems, Inc.)

After reviewing statistics from our website dashboard this morning, we were surprised to see that the #1 driver to our website is a search for the words "Turtle Diagrams". Special thanks to our friend - the turtle! For years now we have heard a handful of our customers fight with the concept of using a turtle diagram. Recently, I was in a heated discussion with an Engineering Manager who felt very strong about his position that "...turtle diagrams are a waste of time because they are only used during audits... to help an auditor be more efficient in his audit of us".

Well... yeah. I mean, PERFECTLY said (and thanks for making the argument easier for me Mr. Resister!). Turtle Diagrams at this organization were often only used by the auditors. But that doesn't mean that they were intended for the auditors. They were INTENDED for processes owners; a 1-page diagram that should be used to keep them on track with the expected outputs of the process they are responsible for. (Note: I said "process" they are responsible for and not "department" they are responsible for.)

Now, to address the portion of his statement: " help an auditor be more efficient in his audit of us". What's wrong with being efficient as an auditor? Furthermore, what's wrong with being efficient and organized as a process owner? The more focused you remain on the key deliverables, and the key resources needed to achieve these deliverables, the better chance you have at meeting the needs of your boss (your BOSS boss and your Customer).

Think of a turtle diagram as a point on the global when you go to Google Earth. Before you start navigating north, east, south or west, you first need to make sure you are on the right continent. From there, you can fine-tune and make adjustments. Start your process definition as a very high level. Gather all of the key resources, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses on the turtle and fine-tune from there.

For those of you who prefer a more mathematical explanation, work instructions are to assembly operators as turtle diagrams are to top managers responsible for the performance of a certain business process. Without identifying key outputs - critical to internal and customer satisfaction - it becomes difficult to align all of your tactical resources (man, machine, method, metrics, measurement systems, etc.) in order to achieve your strategic-level goals.

I encourage each organization that uses or considers using turtle diagrams to step back and evaluate the intent of this tool. Like any tool, turtle diagrams are only valuable if used as intended.

Turtle Diagram - Baking Process Example

Turtle Diagram - Baking Process Example

Instructions for Creating a Turtle Diagram A "Turtle Diagram" is a quality tool used to visually display process characteristics such as inputs, outputs (expectations), criteria (metrics) and other high-level information to assist in the effective execution and improvement of key business processes. While there is no requirement per ISO 9001 or TS 16949 to create or manage turtle diagrams, I have worked with organizations who use turtle diagrams … Read More

via Concentric Management Systems, Inc.

Satellite or Baseball?

Does your management system look like a satellite or a baseball? The following question is meant to challenge management system professionals and their respective organizations.  How are you using your management system?  Is your management system being used as the foundation within your organization to build control, predictability and improvement processes for total performance optimization?  Or is your management system simply a "satellite" that hovers around the organization occasionally communicating back to planet earth?

The following short presentation can be used to prompt these questions and explore the whether you are meeting the INTENT of registration processes such as ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, AS9100, etc.

Presentation: Http://

Assessment Worksheet:  Http://

Lean Documentation

I was asked an interesting question this week from a colleague.  "Should I start over from scratch or fix my current mess of documents?"  This seems to be a theme lately that many of us are seeing.  I'd like to think of it as a very good question and a sign of good things to come.  When businesses start asking questions like this, my hopes are that they are no longer fighting to stay alive, but now in a mode to fight.  I'm hoping this by asking this question, a key player in an organization is taking his or her initial steps towards a lean document system that allows for quick reference to key documents, rather than system that is comparable to a needle in a haystack.  Now on to the answer I gave... At the most fundamental level, you need to start with standard requirements and/or the intial intent of documents.  What is the purpose?  What do you want to get out of these organized bits of words and wisdom?

Unless there is a special business requirement from a Customer, organizations need to keep in mind that every document created comes at a cost.

I see organizations on a regular basis with hundreds or thousands of different documents claiming to be of value.  Past experience with a "say what you do, do what you say and document it" approach sometimes makes one blind to the original intent.  As an example, ISO 9001 only requires 6 documented procedures. Unless there is a special business requirement from your Customer, organizations need to keep in mind that every document created comes at a cost. The cost can add up quickly in two ways - cost of maintenance and cost of distracting from (or "watering down of") more important documents.

Start at the highest level possible and create a blank slate for storing the Top 20 procedures (or whatever number makes sense that is less than 20). The "blank slate" could be a fancy database or literally a BLANK SLATE.  From there, clear ownership needs to be assigned for each document, ideally adopted and maintained by each actual process owner within the organization.  Secondary procedures, instructions, forms, etc. can be referenced from there.  We strongly recommend that each document, at all levels, have a parent procedure that is tied back to a specific requirement or business need.  (The preference is a link back to the business need such as a business plan line item or corporate guidance manual.)

Like any 5S exercise, the orphan documents without a home or business need should be sorted out and archived so the valuable documents have the best chance to be used as the valuable business tools that they are.

Automotive Process Approach

The process approach is taking any activity, or set of activities, that uses resources to transform input to outputs.  For example, every day a restaurant tranforms a certain amount of energy and materials into creating a meal for it's customers.  The output of the process ---> the quality and efficiency of the meal + facility cleanliness + the dining experience + appropriate cost + other expected elements = meeting the desired results of the customers.

The systematic identification and management of the processes employed within an organization, and particularly the interactions between such processes, is referred to as the “process approach”.

Effective operations depend on:

  • identification and management of numerous interrelated processes
  • clear understanding for how processes interact
  • clear expectation of output from one process equals an input into another
  • clear communication of roles and responsibilities
  • an overall understanding of the big pictures (goals & objectives)

The automotive process approach is a requirement from the IATF Rules documents (ref. Rules for Achieving IATF Recognition: 3rd edition for ISO/TS 16949).  Automotive organizations must ensure that priority is given to:

  • questioning processes, the sequence and interactions, and performance against the measures defined
  • focus on processes which directly impact the customer
  • questioning the process objectives/targets, with focus on where targets are not being met
  • focus on issues that have the greatest impact on the customer
  • questioning what plans are in place to ensure targets are met
  • corrective action plans where objectives are not being met
  • following audit trails to linkages between customer concerns, performance against objectives and relevant process documents (e.g. control plan, FMEA, etc.),
  • questioning the clients' process for gathering, communicating and implementing customer-specific requirements

Focus on the customer.  Is the customer satisfied with their dining experience?  How can we do better tomorrow?

Focus on organizational performance.  Did we achieve, as a business, our organizational goals (i.e. make a profit, retain valued staff, satisfy regulatory requirements, etc.)?

Expected Changes for ISO 9001:2008

The ISO 9000 family of documents and standards continue to be the international baseline for good management practices as an effort to enhance organizational controls and predictability for quality requirements.  Since the initial release of the ISO 9000 family of documents in 1987, this quality management system standard has grown throughout the world as the standard quality business model for nearly a million organizations in over 160 countries.  With such a significant worldwide application, changes to this family of international standards have a rippling effect often requiring additional resources for training and implementation.  The effects are not only felt directly with those organizations subscribing to ISO 9001, but also those sector-specific management systems such as ISO/TS 16949 (automotive) and AS9100 (aerospace) that use the ISO 9001 requirements as the building blocks of their respective standards.  Any changes to the “building blocks” consequently require significant changes to the business practices of those in that sector (i.e.  The transition from QS-9000 to ISO/TS 16949:2002).  So how can you best prepare for the expected changes that lie ahead? During the February 2007 International Conference on ISO 9000 – the leading conference on ISO 9000 and related standards – several workshops and presentations focused on the suspected changes to the current 2000 version.  Two primary points that seemed to be common denominators throughout the conference was the pressure to better align the ISO 9000 series documents with the ISO 14000 (environmental) series, as well as developing changes that would minimize the cost of implementing the changes.  With the growing demand on supply chains to participate in both a quality and environmental certification process, the strain of the additional resources to implement and maintain two or more systems has been a focus on this new revision.  According to a 1996 Quality Systems Update survey[1], the average cost of ISO certification for small firms (those registering less than $11 million in annual sales) was $71, 000.  With such a high price tag in order to be considered a player in some business sectors, it is no wonder why so many organizations are trying to get a sneak-peek into the changes ahead.

The following list summarizes some of the key points that are probable with the release of the new standard in 2009:

  • Expected release date is Q2 2009, therefore making the next registration scheme applicable to the “ISO 9001:2008” international standard ·        Focus on changes with high benefit (i.e. addressing confusing points, inconsistencies and verbiage associated with poor translation) and low impact (i.e. minimal changes related to documentation, training, education)·        Providing guidance to top management for sustainable success·  No major changes to the terms & definitions (currently the ISO 9000:2000 document)·  Minor changes to the ISO 9001 standard (referred to as “amendments”)·  Major changes to the ISO 9004 document with a key focus on “sustainable success” rather than a guideline or interpretation of the ISO 9001 standard

    ·  Improved compatibility with other international standards such as ISO 14001:2004 (environmental) so common elements of the standard can be implemented without duplication or separate systems

    ·  Clarification on the design requirements (clause 7.3)

    ·  Clarification on the “process approach”;  ISO 9001:2000 process approach model will be maintained

    ·  Guidance on outsourced processes.

    ·  The role of Six Sigma and Lean in the management system implementation and how ISO 9000 can support these improvement tools

    The transition period from the 2000 revision to the 2008 revision will likely be around 18 months, and may vary from one National Registration Body to the next.

    The American Society for Quality’s online bookstore Quality Press periodically publishes the committee drafts for review and comment throughout the various stages of development of the new standard.  The next draft is tentatively scheduled for review in Q3 2007.  ASQ offers a service that will contact you and allow you to offer comments about the current draft online at no charge.  Visit to fill out a request for notification.

View a presentation of some of the proposed changes here:

            The following resources may also be beneficial in monitoring the changes ahead:

The American Society for Quality: Organization for Standardization:  http://www.iso.orgISO/TC176 (Technical Committee): About the author:  James R. Thompson is the President of Concentric Management Systems, Inc. and a QMS Lead Auditor for QMI.  He has over 13 years of management system and quality engineering experience and is in his fifth year of assisting organizations with productivity, quality and customer satisfaction improvements.  Mr. Thompson is a Senior Member of the American Society for Quality and a board member as the Educational and Newsletter Chairman for the Columbus, Indiana section.  For more information about Mr. Thompson, contact Concentric Management Systems, Inc. online at

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