Chapter 2
Perceptions of ISO 9000 and its derivatives
By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second,
by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.
Since the publication of the ISO 9000 family of standards in 1987 a new industry has
grown in its shadow. This industry is characterized by: Standards Bodies, Accreditation
Bodies, Certification Bodies, Consulting Practices, Training Providers, Software Providers
and a whole raft of publications, magazines, Web sites and schemes – all in the name
of quality! But has ISO 9000 and its derivates, such as ISO/TS 16949 fulfilled their
promise? There are those with vested interests that would argue that it has improved
the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations. Equally others would argue that it has
done tremendous damage to industry. One of the problems in assessing the validity of
the pros and cons of the debate is the very term ISO 9000 because it means different
things to different people.
Perceptions that have been confirmed time and again by consultants, other organiza-
tions and frequent audits from the certification bodies over the last 20 years makes
these perceptions extremely difficult to change. If ISO 9000 is perceived rightly or
wrongly, as a badge on the wall or a set of documents, then that is what it is. If this was
not the intent of ISO 9000 then clearly we have to do something about it. But why
should these perceptions be changed? After all, can over 500,000 organizations have
got it wrong? Some organizations in fact did use ISO 9000 wisely but they are likely to be
in the minority. Many organizations also chose not to pursue ISO 9000 certification and
focused on total quality management (TQM) but that too led to dissatisfaction with the
results. As an introduction to this handbook on ISO 9000:2000 it may be useful to take a
look at these perceptions – look at how we have come to think about ISO 9000: quality,
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