ISO 9001:2000 (& 2008) - Interpretations 101



Is this you?

Originally posted by Carl
OK, I'm the outsider here, but...
You can dice it up with all the rhetoric you want. minimize it.
Unregistered Carl,

There are no outsiders here.
I just have to weigh in here. Call it the advanced stages of Male Menopause. Are you the Carl that started a rather contentious thread called Self Declaration to the Standard in April of this year? This “Carl” wasn’t registered yet, either. The style is very similar. Arrogant, smug, argumentative and also very thought provoking with his interpretations. Is this you? This Carl even turned me around on my view of “Self Declaration”. Was that you? In that thread Carl and the ISO Guy were having entertaining “swings and roustabouts”, too! Carl was slightly pompous and close to rude to any one that didn’t agree with him. Is this you? For those of you who would like to read this excellent thread, do a search because I'm too lazy to provide the link. Type "Self Declaration". It was really an excellent discussion.

If this is the same Carl, you haven’t polished up a bit on those communication skills. As an “auditor”, so you say (unregistered is worse than cloaking), how do you effectively communicate with your clients or co-workers? Use a hammer? While we all occasionally draw the wrath of our fellow subscribers, which is to be expected, that particular Carl seemed to go out of his way to provoke people.
The fact is that this Carl was a pretty smart guy and if you read between those vituperative passages, he had a lot of good information to offer. If you are not that Unregistered Carl, I apologize for even making the association. If you are one and the same, take a deep breath, a step back and a chill pill.
If you are a new unregistered Carl, you can show your intelligence (this other Carl was) without being so full of yourself that every post that suggests something contrary to yours, needs to be steamrollered. No one is keeping score here. Everybody is a winner. :smokin:



I am flattered!

Just joking.

As I said previous, I don't post unless I feel strongly and therefore have not registered. Maybe I shall.

As far as being close to rude to those that do not agree with me, I do not really feel I have been rude, I may have been stubborn to a fault, but not rude. If you will glance back over this thread, you will see that I make my point and ask everyone for evidence to support their point, seeing none, I feel my point is well founded. In any case, everyone is entitled to their opinion. It does strike me as odd that many of you are so willing to accept an interpretation that should not exist in the first place, each his or her own.

As I said, I am the outsider, so let me take a step back and take a chill pill as suggested.

"That Carl- "


Never an outsider

> As I said, I am the outsider,

Not in this forum!

Don't interpret difference of opinion for exclusion.

:biglaugh: (couldn't help myself;) )


Tag you're it!

Originally posted by Carl
If you will glance back over this thread, you will see that I make my point and ask everyone for evidence to support their point, seeing none, I feel my point is well founded.
"That Carl- "

Nice to hear from you again, really!:eek: "You will see that I make my point"? Where? "Seeing none, I feel my point was well founded?" I see said the blind man!:ko: Don't patronize, it's not your strong point. Post more often, Real Carl. I really do enjoy your point of view. Try to remember that some us have all we can do to keep up with such deep thinking. Keep posting, Dude. Register so we can send private messages where we can really get into it! :truce: :smokin:


Fully vaccinated are you?
A Bit Less Personal

Let's keep the personal 'darts' to a minimum, please folks. Discussion rather than fights. I start enough 'fights' for everyone. You folks don't need to. :thedeal:

And I echo Lucinda:

> Don't interpret difference of opinion for exclusion.


Fully vaccinated are you?
Thoughts From The ListServe

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 12:29:16 -0600
From: ISO 9000 Standards Discussion
Subject: Re: Interpretations /Vianna/Arter

From: Dennis Arter

Sidney Vianna recently wrote:

> The November 2001 issue of Quality Systems Update tells us that
> the WG19 of TC 176 decide to withhold/suspend the release of
> "formal interpretations", for a while. Obviously they did not
> reach consensus about the content of some interpretations.

The interpretations proposal is fundamentally flawed. It is based on cultural arrogance. It hurts the quality movement.

1. Fundamental Flaws (Design Defects)

At the October meeting of Technical Committee 176 (TC 176) in Birmingham, England, the results of the first pilot test were presented. (In software lingo, this could be called a "beta" test.) Five questions were examined on the first test (August 8 to September 9) and six were examined on the second test (August 24 to September 24). 39 countries participated. Agreement was as high as 95% and as low as 46%. Some countries simply gave up. They couldn't figure out the questions!

I recently learned that most of the country representatives in TC 176 are professional standards writers. That's their job. While this is certainly not bad, it does limit the amount of real-life work experience that is brought to the table. Nations with strong industry participation by volunteer employees are important for success. I analyzed the comments that came with country interpretations ballots and noticed that industry perspective was weak.

The questions are supposed to be answered as yes or no. However, many of the questions were vague and some even included two or more questions all tied together knots. Obviously, the input filters were defective.

Now, perhaps the interpretations committee was being sneaky. [smile] Perhaps they were testing to see if a flawed question would make it through the process?? Yup, it did.

2. Cultural arrogance

Do we really believe that it's one world out there? Do Brazilian enterprises use the same methods as the Swedes? Are Indonesian norms the same as Iceland? Even the USA and Canada have different perspectives on how management should function. [Gasp!]

The concept of conformity assessment worldwide is good for business. It means that a third-party registrar has checked out your potential supplier to minimum acceptable criteria. This promotes understanding between buyer and seller and can lead to more trade. But the conformity assessment system is not perfect. We all know of nations where it is common to "purchase" a certificate of registration. Only time and trade, not interpretations, will turn this around.

3. Quality is damaged

In the 1950s and 1960s, we were just starting to figure out this "quality stuff." We were doing a lot of thinking and testing and probing. As we developed the methods, they became routine. We began to relinquish the freedom to think. The military fell into this trap, when they issued Handbooks 50, 51, and 52 to tell the contractors (and their own auditors) how to apply MIL-Q-9858. Soon, the contractors were asking for interpretations on the Handbooks! The nuclear industry fell into this trap, as the regulators issued Reg Guides to explain the Federal Regulations. Then ASME issued standards to explain the Reg Guides. Even the airlines do it. The safety instructions given by the flight attendants are word-for-word as suggested by the aviation regulators. (Does anyone really know what a "lighted signsandplackards" is?) The 1994 edition of ISO 9001 was a good example of "Just do it this way because I say so."

And the auditors went right along with it. Many folks became auditors without any training or experience - Just do it. Instead of speaking TO management, the auditors were speaking FOR management. Groups were doing dumb things because the auditors said that was the way it had to be done. We allowed our managers to relinquish their control and thinking to the auditors.

The members of TC 176/SC 2/WG 18 (working group 18 of subcommittee 2 of technical committee 176) tried very hard to turn that around. The ISO 9001/4 consistent pair was written in the language of business, using business processes. It is outcome based, rather than telling us how to do it.

All this requires thinking! I believe that we may have lost much of our freedom to think. Once lost, that freedom is hard to regain. Because of the struggle, perhaps we are asking the conformity assessment registrars to tell us what to do. When they won't, we say, "Please relieve me of the burden to think."

4. Summary

Of course, the ISO 9001:2000 standard has flaws. Some of the concepts, while good, have not had extensive application. We are still trying to figure it out. Books, courses, conferences, and internet discussion lists will help us to find the truth. Interpretations will not.

Dennis Arter


Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 12:29:23 -0600
From: ISO 9000 Standards Discussion
Subject: Re: Interpretations /Vianna/Scalies

From: Charley Scalies

Sidney Vianna wrote:
> I would hate to think that the driver behind this is ISO trying to cash even
> more on the best seller family of Standards they ever put together. Do I
> smell "Quarterly ISO Compendium of interpretation Updates" ?

If so, this would hardly be the most egregious example of their unbridled greed.

On another discussion list, there has been a recent conversation regarding the ISO9000 certification "racket" - as one member described it. This member was complaining about registrars who also consult (which, IMHO, is "bush league" when compared with the practices of the really big boys, like the IOS and the RAB.)

Picture Moses descending from the mountain top. One hand is wrapped around the stone tablets while the other is plunging deeply into the pockets of the poor folk wandering in the desert..

But don't get me started.

Charley Scalies


Fully vaccinated are you?
More Thoughts From The ListServe

Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 12:16:58 -0600
From: ISO 9000 Standards Discussion
Subject: Re: Interpretations /Vianna/Naish

Interpretations come out from each of the registrars and from some of the Registration bodies. Everyone has their own idea and everyone seems to think their way is the only way.

When the 1994 version was released I heard more than one auditor explain that their company wanted to see this or that. Several indicated that if we were RVA versus RAB we had a different set of requirements that RVA was requiring. A client was audited by NSAI at one time and was told their group felt the standards were a guideline and they were there to help the company get better (even if it didn't work for them the way the NSAI auditors required).

When I started in this business my first major contract was with over 20 electromechanical distributors who were part of a consortium of distributors. I met with most of them and had some long discussion when working on the contract. I was told they were all pretty much alike so it should be easy and they could be almost cookie cuttered out. They were wrong and I got my first big lesson on the differences between companies. I have learned more since then (10 years ago) and have found there is no way to write a document that could interpret how a system should look for every possible company much less country.

And speaking of countries, aside from the way they do business there are a number of legal differences that go along with that. I have been in a couple of audits with poorly trained auditors who were asking for documents they could not see due to the USA privacy acts and suggesting things that due to a union or state or local laws a company could or should not do. IN addition, I even had one auditor tell a client to get rid of a sole sourced supplier because their quality was so low. Where did he think they could go when that was the only company within a reasonable distance that could make the part? Are we to require a company to go out of business due to costs relating to changing suppliers and the freight costs for heavy materials?

The registrar can make some general interpretations and train their auditors but the key is how well the auditors can see that the way a company is implementing the standard meets the requirements of the the standard and meets their business needs and those of their customers at the same time.

With that said, I believe that the reason companies may ask for interpretations is one that I get concerned about that really goes to my last statement. I work with a company and we decide how to apply the standard to this particular company. Along comes an auditor and decides that is not what they think the standard means or not what they think the company should do. What the company is now looking for is a referee. A hard and fast guide they can use to tell the auditor he is off base.

And it is nice that we have news groups and web sites and news letters from our friendly neighborhood registrar plus 16 consultants. But when you are a small company and when times are tight like they are today, even the person wearing the ISO hat does not have the time or luxury to pore through these sources to find the answer. They want a quick guide to go back to if and when they need it.

Many may say the company needs to allow more time for the ISO person to do research but in this real world with millions of people around the world looking for jobs and every company I know hurting for revenue and many going under, where do you think their priority will lie: in ISO or doing what it takes to get the product out the door? Most try to maintain their systems but don't have time to fight their auditors who play god all too many times and try to change a company to fit their ideal rather than seeing how the company meets ISO.

I will get off my soap box now and say that some consistent problems should have a home guide where anyone with problems can see what the general interpretations of the industry are going. It would be wonderful to have one web site for all the questions that come up can be answered by the TC group and can be sorted by section and subsection of the standard. This would be a living growing document as the problems arise and not a hard back book that is outdated by the time it leaves the printer. If the technical group would like to improve their processes and increase customer satisfaction my vote is for a live searchable database by section of the standard and perhaps country sensitive to requirements that relate to legal areas within a country.

Phyllis Naish

Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 12:51:08 -0600
From: ISO 9000 Standards Discussion
Subject: Re: Interpretations /Vianna/Arter/Naish/Scalies

From: C. Scalies

If we could somehow get the humans out of the process, we wouldn't need interpretations. But since we cannot, Dennis Arter's take on interpretations is correct. The supplications for interpretations of the interpretations would start in less time than it takes for the car behind you to honk its horn after the traffic signal turns green.


Actors are taught to consciously carry their character's baggage with them whenever they step onto the stage. The first reason is to better enable them to portray their character's motivation, nuances and foibles. The second reason, a defensive one, is to keep the actor's own baggage - which he also carries with him - from messing up the author's words with interpretations that are off-the-mark.

Our beliefs (values) and our behavior (ethics) are the sum total of our own unique experiences. We are, each of us, both reflections of and products of those values and ethics. These things are our baggage. Try as we might, we cannot put it down unless we exchange it for new baggage. Until then, the best thing we can do is to be aware of the baggage we have and how it impacts our perception of things and not allow it to get in the way.

When registrars publish their own interpretations they are ostensibly trying to supplant the baggage that each of its auditors has with a common set of baggage. (Actually, most of them publish interpretations as marketing tools, and that adds another set of bags to the equation.) And since each of us has his/her own baggage, it's no wonder we see differences in registrar interpretations.

Less is More

Let me suggest that the problems Phyllis and others have reported might be mitigated if we had less words rather than more. (Of course, the problems would all go away if we dumped the registration process entirely but that's too easy.) The ISO 9000 standards, 1994 or 2000 versions, say too much. All those "trees" hide the forest.

In my practice, I explain the ISO 9000 standard in 5 Power Point slides. Images. Pictures. Those 5 images, along with the conversation that surrounds them, embody the entire scope of the standard's intent, including the critical difference between the QMS and registration of the QMS. (I am not trying to sell anything here - I'll be making them available for free to anyone who wants them - nor am I trying to convince anyone that I'm smarter than the average bear - I'm not.) It's simply a matter of explaining something that's very simple and easy to understand in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If I can do it, anyone can. Including those really smart folks at the IOS. ;)

The Tyranny of How

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The traffic jam or the traffic cop? The standard's writer or the obfuscation? I don't want to discount the contribution of the folks who wrote the standard, but if their baggage is writing standards, then what should we expect will be the result? If their expertise is "process" then what's the likelihood that the "process" will assume more importance than the desired result? Have we inadvertently allowed the path to take precedence over the destination?

The Challenge

To those who think I have oversimplified the matter, you will either fail this challenge or become a convert to the Simple Life. Here it is - In 15 minutes - including 5 minutes for a coffee break - conduct a fully documented audit to verify the existence of an effective quality management system. (Isn't that what ISO9K is really all about?) How would you do it?

And to those of you who think I must be smoking that funny stuff again, I assure you I can't recall if I inhaled.

Charley Scalies
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