Abandoned system approach

Revision of ISO 9001:2015 rather hastily slimmed down principles of quality management. Point 0.2 of the standard presents not 8, but 7 principles. The removed one is system approach to management. Was it unnecessary?

Of course not! The very title of the standard - Quality management system - clearly says that a system approach is essential in managing a modern organization. In the system approach we view the organization as a set of elements connected to each other with relationships and striving to achieve a certain objectives. The concept of system is very versatile since it refers not only to the organization but also to machines, people and even entire societies. In science and in practice no one raises serious arguments about redundancy or obsolescence system approach.

What then happened that the authors of the standards have decided to remove this principle? Perhaps the argument was just repeating the title. Standard approaches organization management in a holistic way. Undoubtedly, this is system approach. But is the whole management system is described in the standard? The short answer is: no. As a proof let's consider two issues lacking:  financial management and quality costs. Despite the arguments put forward for years to extend the ISO 9001 with economy, yet another amendment ignores the key issues for any business.

If the authors consider ISO 9001 as a complete description of the system, what should we do with other management systems standards? Until now we have been integrating management systems based precisely on the system approach to management. Using this principle we have combined quality management system with environmental management (ISO 14001), occupational safety (OHSAS) and information security (ISO 27001).

To conclude it can be stated that the idea to remove system approach to the management from ISO 9001:2015 is not justified, and may be even harmful. However, I hope that no reasonable manager or consultant will decide to skip system approach in a company just because they do not have it in the standard.

Recommended external sources:

Photo: Joe Plocki, Flickr, CC