Interesting Discussion ISO 9001 - Snake Oil? A discussion of the validity/value of ISO 9001

What Do YOU Believe About ISO 9001?

  • ASQ Member - Yes I read it.

    Votes: 8 36.4%
  • ASQ Member - Didn't read it.

    Votes: 4 18.2%
  • Not an ASQ Member

    Votes: 3 13.6%
  • Agree - It's Snake Oil, a Scam.

    Votes: 4 18.2%
  • It has Become a Scam, but is Good Business Practices

    Votes: 14 63.6%
  • Disagree - Hoyer is way off base.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


Fully vaccinated are you?
ISO 9001 - Snake Oil?

In a recent issue of Quality Progress, R. W. Hoyer wrote an article titled Why Quality Gets An F. The current issue has several replies in its QP Mailbag.

The poll with this thread is Multiple Choice.

I'm curious... What do YOU think? Your comments are also welcome!


Snake oil

I am one (okay the only one so far) of the ASQ members that did not read the article. I started to, but after a few paragraphs, decided I had no interest in reading the reminder. I have worked with enough companies to discover several things. First, there are those who only want the flag, and will skirt any requirement they can. For them, it is snake oil. There are others that have taken these good business practices (I often say that much of ISO 9001 fall into the “well duh” category) and have run with them. For these companies, ISO 9001 is the oil that lubricates their business. The third group wants to do the right thing, but struggled before 9K, and still struggles. For them it is the castor oil that prevents their business from getting sicker.

I guess one person’s snake oil could be another person’s life oil. It is all a matter of perspective, and what you do with it. After all, even snake oil is great for roses!



I know this sounds "too simple", but I think if companies put a lot more emphasis on supplier audits, that overall quality would improve. You can sometimes better exercise your "responsibilty and authority" with suppliers than you can in your own company.

If our customers held us more accountable, more often, maybe management would be more interested in making sure that quality was being maintained.

Hank Fowler

M Greenaway


This is where your customer focus, communication and feedback in ISO9001:2000 should come in very helpful.

Its possible that in the past the companies perception of what the quality issues are was not what the customer perceived. This is one of the strengths of the intent of the new standard.

Aaron Lupo

I have to agree with Hank. The only time and I mean the only time anything gets attention around here is when our customers audit us. Sad but true.

Aaron Lupo

Hey Carl we agreed on something how about that! Just kidding!:vfunny:

Actually I am experiencing that problem now. I am at a complete loss for a solution, I have suggested many they have implented none. I hate hearing "I don't have time" as an excuse or "operator was multi-tasking" they are the worst excuses in the world. I don't think anyone really has time but you know something I certainly find a way to get my work done and last I checked I have the same 24 hours in a day as they do. I can give them the ideas and the solutions but it is up to them to implement them. :truce: :ko:


Agree with Carl Day

I must agree with Carl as well. Although, we must not mix point 2 and point 3. We can easily show the perception of reducing PPM through manipulating information, when in fact nothing has changed. It all boils down to how “real” is management’s commitment

Atul Khandekar

I am not an ASQ member myself ( a colleague in my company is) but I have read the article. I think ISO 9k2k has the potential to become a good business practice if followed in the right spirit and focus. As things stand today ( I am not in the US, so my opinion may not hold good for the US scenario), it has come to be nothing but scam. Bert Gunter's comments referenced in Hoyer's article explain why..

I really appreciated Kevin Mader's pertinent observations in his reply 'Quality has taken a backseat to profits' in QP mailbag December 2001 issue.
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Fully vaccinated are you?
More and more people appear to be seeing things as I have for some time.

If you're an ASQ member, see

In part it reads:
2. All Six Sigma and ISO 9000 like programs have offered, though, to the outcast Quality Manager, an opportunity to get some resources (otherwise not available) to use for systems and process improvements.... Most of the CEO's are as short term oriented as the (in)famous Jack Welch and would not have otherwise spent money on Q.A. related issues unless it was necessary immediately for furthering business operations. Deming's concepts are as alien to most business "leaders" as a 10-year ROI.

Fire Girl

db said:
(I often say that much of ISO 9001 fall into the “well duh” category)

You really could say that a lot of ISO 9001 should be common sense. But we all know how common that is! :biglaugh: You would think ( for example) that people would know that they would have to calibrate equipment, document it, etc. Why would we even need procedures on THAT. However, people get nailed (including myself ) all the time for that. I really do think it's important to document stuff. NEVER take for granted that people will know what to do. At least if it's written down, you have something to fall back on when they come up with their, "Where does it say I have to do that" line.

ISO really covers a lot of basic business concepts. That's the thing a lot of people may not realize- it's a MINIMUM REQUIREMENT. You really should be going beyond ISO.

Just my thoughts.:biglaugh:

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