Written by Eva Normell, Partner at Purple Ivy AB

Set and work toward future ambitions in a systematic way – that’s the message at the heart of the new ISO standards.

The standards are based on the PDCA circle (Plan Do Check Act) and the focus on continuous improvement and value creation is sharper than ever before. The biggest change in the standards is a broader view of value creation and future focus, which pushes an organization to think and work systematically in a new direction.

The new standard is quite clear about the fact that an organization doesn’t need to document everything to create a systematic way of working – rather, the focus is on working in a more goal-oriented way and assuring systematics through competence and values. However, creating the right level of documentation remains important.

The PDCA process breaks down like this:

Plan

  • Make sure you have a clear understanding of your organization’s role today and the possibilities it has in the future. Do a materiality analysis that considers all your stakeholders and your complete value chain. Use this information to help set up your ambition. (This is part of your strategy work.)
  • Prioritize what you need to do to reach your ambition. (This is part of risk management.)
  • Set goals that will get you to the finish line – that is, improvement goals and activities that are connected to them.

Do

  • Lead your organization in changing times with the help of your main processes for the core business – this is where you create value.
  • Supporting process such as resource management and competence development are also very important.
  • Work systematically with communication to all your stakeholders.
  • Strive to improve the processes that are prioritized and are most affected by the strategy and goals.
  • In the case of big changes, carry them out systematically (using PDCA).

Check

  • Measure the right things.
  • Don’t be satisfied with measurements – analyze and reflect to find potential areas for improvement.
  • Focus the efforts of internal audits on the areas where they will be of most use – in areas connected to strategy and priorities.
  • Evaluate how effective your management system is in relation to your strategy and ambition.

Act

  • Continuous improvement is vital to your ability to deliver on tomorrow’s requirements. Doing everything the same way you always have isn’t going to be good enough.

Leadership is central to PDCA: Communicate the ambition clearly and show the way. Stay engaged and engage others. Follow up!

Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Yes, it’s very sensible, but how common is it? I’d be interested to hear your perspective.