I see no one seems to want to comment, so here are a couple of follow-ups from the ISO ListServe:
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 15:47:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Measurable Results from ISO in our World /Naish/Meron
My estimate of the impact of ISO 9000 on management practices and/or business competitiveness is very simple: I look in Sloan Management Review (SMR) and Harvard Business Review (HBR). These are two of the most highly esteemed management journals, published by MIT and Harvard Business School. Worth reading. I believe that if some novel or supposedly useful management idea is not mentioned in one of them it probably means it's not worth researching. So after reading your post I searched the archives of those two publications. Here is what I found for three keywords: Quality, TQM, ISO (number of references):
SMR Quality = 92 TQM = 6 ISO = 0
HBR Quality = 300 TQM = 58 ISO = 3 (two from 1996, one from
So what do you think? Maybe ISO is not so hot after all. On the other hand, could it be that those academic types never heard about ISO?
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 15:51:54 -0500
Subject: Re: Measurable Results from ISO in our World /Naish/VanDorp
I have had no less than 5 calls in the last month from clients with problems (and 2 personal experiences) with suppliers that are ISO. Mostly in the contract review part. And they run from service industry (international trade carrier, to calibration (metrology providers)), to high tech manufacturers, to automotive.
And I have had almost 5 calls from my customers even though we have ISO 9002. We still make "mistakes" but now we have a documented process to resolve them and hopefully still providing good customer service.
Has anyone seen any statistics or kept statistics on the overall improvement in either quality or delivery in any particular industry that can be directly related to the advance of ISO standards?
I may be a nonconformist here but how can you attribute the improvement of any particular industry to one item. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of variables of which ISO would be just one.
We have had more (or at least more noticeable and deadly) automobile and airline problems. Appliances in the USA have become a throw away item. Of the five computers I have had, only one has lasted more than a year or two without failures. And repair has become a nightmare to get from anyone reliably.
Are there statistically more vehicular failures causing serious injury or death? Have there been statistically more fatal or serious plane crashes? Are they just more thrown into the media spotlight in today's news hungry society?
Of the five computers you bought what models were they and did that company have ISO 900x? Did you buy the el-cheapo models from the local quickie mart? I have 10 computers here bought from a reputable supplier who uses quality components of which i've had virtually no problems and excellent service if there's an occasional glitch (and no they don't have ISO)
As for Appliances... it's a consumeristic society and the appliance companies business model is to make disposable appliances to there by sell more. There is a market here. Just like if you want your washing machine to last you buy Maytag there are brands of appliances which you purchase if you want them to last.
So again what have we as a world gained from ISO?
It's a market driven society and business environment. You get what you pay for and what customers demand for the most part they get. ISO is in the big scheme of things a small player in these market dynamics IMHO, it's a useful and valuable tool but not an ace in the hole.
Besides, without ISO what would all those registrars and consultants be doing?
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 11:03:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Measurable Results from ISO in our World /Naish/VanDorp/Naish
If we did not have ISO I would look for another job which would probably contribute more to society. But I thought a couple of responses you sent were very good and will respond to a couple of the questions you asked.
You said: "Are there statistically more vehicular failures causing serious injury or death?" At some not so recent Senate hearing regarding the tire and car issue, the transportation safety board along with some other people presented data for five years. And the answer to your question is yes there were significantly more fatal and non fatal accidents especially related to tire issues. As we know, the companies in question are ISO or QS.
In addition, the data did some comparisons to other car and tire manufacturers. Interestingly enough they were up as well but not significantly as was the specific tire and car companies. So my perception is that the data collect by and presented by the NTSB would indicate more accidents and fatalities. But again as you mentioned there are numerous things that play into this data.
You said: Of the five computers you bought what models were they and did that company have ISO 900x? Did you buy the el-cheapo models from the local quickie mart?
I bought the computers from three different manufacturers. 2 were direct, the other three were through two separate distributors. The direct manufacturer may be what you call el cheapo as they were a local company. All three manufacturers have or have had ISO including Mr. El cheapo. The one that has lasted the longest is the Mr. El cheapo. The one to run the second longest is Mr. El cheapo. So price does not necessarily relate directly to quality nor service.
As for calls from customers. We all make mistakes and we all get calls regarding them just like you said. The problems is in each of these calls from clients they could not obtain a corrective action response from their suppliers even after repeated efforts to do so. I do not want to go down the path as to why or the requirements of ISO versus the suppliers procedures but I have found several examples where they say they don't do corrective actions in their procedures and have their certificates. So what have we gained from ISO except a useless piece of paper when it comes to my getting what I agreed upon and getting a reasonable response when there is a problem.
I am personally working with one company where the management refuses to take or return my calls and after 2 weeks has failed to respond to a formal request for corrective action and resolution of a dispute. Even their registrar has been notified and while I was told a week and a half ago I would get a response from them I still have heard nothing more back from them.
I have received a couple of off line responses as well as those posted. I find so far that I have not seen any positive measure being made by anyone including ASQ or ISO or A2LA as to the effectiveness of these systems nor what the customers are getting from them.
My question is if ISO went away tomorrow with all the consultants and audits and registrars and ASQ and A2LA and their world wide equivalents, would the world be any worse? Or are these groups simply a new kind of business that makes money off of the consumer?
I know some would say they keep us from having major quality problems but that is obviously not true. Some would say the suppliers would not care and not provide goods that meet customer requirements. Some don't today and some will always work that way. In today's economy, I would say more companies provide what customer require in order to stay in business than to meet some international standard. And I know first hand that any number do not follow their procedures except for when they are being audited.
Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 11:04:01 -0500
Subject: Re: Measurable Results from ISO in our World /Naish/Meron/Holtz
> From: Emanuel
>> From: PN
>> Who if anyone is really measuring the effectiveness of ISO as
>> it grows ever bigger? Has anyone seen any statistics or kept
>> statistics on the overall improvement in either quality or delivery
>> in any particular industry that can be directly related to
>> the advance of ISO standards?
> My estimate of the impact of ISO 9000 on management practices and/or
> business competitiveness is very simple: I look in Sloan Management Review
> (SMR) and Harvard Business Review (HBR). These are two of the most highly
> esteemed management journals, published by MIT and Harvard Business School.
< Worth reading. I believe that if some novel or supposedly useful management
> idea is not mentioned in one of them it probably means it's not worth
> researching. So after reading your post I searched the archives of those two
> publications. Here is what I found for three keywords: Quality, TQM, ISO
> (number of references):
> SMR Quality = 92 TQM = 6 ISO = 0
> HBR Quality = 300 TQM = 58 ISO = 3 (two from 1996, one from
> So what do you think? Maybe ISO is not so hot after all. On the other hand,
> could it be that those academic types never heard about ISO?
Oooo, Emanuel...ouch! Those Sloan and HBR stats hurt.... Boy, Phyllis, thanks for getting us here! [Just kidding....]
Some 400,000 registrations worldwide, perhaps 40,000 in the US, and only 3 citations from two of the leading [US] business journals. It sounds to me as if these two august journals are LONG overdue to conduct a study of ISO-registered firms to find out what, if any, benefits have accrued from their efforts, and why and why not. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but like it or not, ISO 9000 is one of the significant business developments of the 1990s. It's worthy of a story.
While they're at it, make sure they include CO(P)Q in their analysis. Can you imagine the fodder for our discussion group if either journal made the move! We should probably be prepared for some bleak news amidst the sporadic raves.
Are there any volunteers that would like to contact MIT and Harvard to put a bug in their ear?
Cheers...and have a great day!
[This message has been edited by Marc Smith (edited 03 August 2001).]