Can ISO standards improve organisational culture?

Each and every business has its own culture. It is the unwritten and accepted rules and behaviour forced to everyone and normally if someone asks why, they hear “this is how we do it!”

Knowing the existence of culture in organisations, regardless of their moral and professional status, leaders have a great influence in changing and enhancing the culture. Changing the culture is one of toughest tasks leaders and managers face in their role.

organisational culture
Organisational culture can be a differentiating factor

The culture mixes with warp and woof of the organisation and any changes in that encounters the highest level of resistance and refusal. Having said that, changing the culture is not impossible and there are a handful of good examples of implementing a system to change and improve the culture. GE organisation, chief executive John F. Welch has transformed his employees into quality champions, by spending nearly 1 billion dollars and make every employee do a Six Sigma course. The result was extraordinary, the faults, rejected items and complaints dropped drastically and customer satisfaction and overall brand value increased accordingly.

The proper way to conduct within an organization is dictated by its experience. This culture is created by common principles and values formed by founders, expressed and repeated in different ways that influence behavior and understanding of staff. Employees as a community describe what the organisation does as its meaning.

As economies and backgrounds differ widely, there is no single-size cultural blueprint for all organizations, whereas strong culture is a common theme among the most successful companies. A strong culture is a set of habits, norms, expectations, traditions, symbols, values and techniques that greatly influences the behavior of its members.

Top-level agreement exists on cultural priorities and it is the tone from the top that indicates the culture. Such views are based on the people in the organisation and the overall holistic goals rather than on each individual.

A perfect Quality Management System is required to make organizational culture strong and effective. Organisations do not need to take severe actions like GE to change their culture, but by executing best practices and implementing standards and codes of practice they could achieve as much.

International and local standards provide pathways and guidelines to set up and run a business in the most appropriate way to satisfy all parties and stakeholders.

A quality management system (QMS) is a system responsible for recording all systems, roles, and practices for meeting quality goals and policies. A QMS enables businesses to align and organise their activities in order to satisfy both regulatory and consumer expectations while simultaneously continuously optimising their performance and effectiveness. Quality management system is very important for any organisation.

ISO 9001:2015, an international specification that sets standards for quality management systems, is the most commonly applied approach to quality management systems. While some people use the term "QMS" to refer to the ISO 9001 checklist or a compilation of documents describing the QMS, however it really refers to the entire system. The documents only serve to clarify the structure.

Following are some benefits of QMS for an organization:

Putting best practices into action and strengthening the business process: efficiency improvement can be attained by optimising business processes for retaining continuity, lowering costs, and ensuring performance within the baseline timeline. Processes are the order of doing things in an organisation. By applying best practices, innovative approaches (including quality control), project management, and other software, processes and goods are constantly changed.

Increase in Production: With the use of quality management system companies can increase their production. Improving efficiency necessitates the application of appropriate techniques, as well as enhanced workforce expertise and planning. Manufacturing process management's primary aim is to maintain productivity while reducing waste.

Employees Engagement: Employee’s engagement is the most important factor for any organization. A perfect QMS helps the organization to engage its employees in their specific assigned task. Those who serve in the production process are the most aware of flaws. The further committed a company's workers are, the better structured and efficient its production operation is.

Customer Satisfaction: The first priority for any organization is customer satisfaction. They can gain customer satisfaction with the help of QMS. A perfect QMS Guarantee customer satisfaction by understanding and full filling their need and as a result improve customer trust.

Obtain Project Success: Once any organization start any project they always wanted to complete this project within given time and cost to make it successful. The QMS supports businesses in meeting the targets outlined in their business plans, as well as in coordinating and aligning all project operations for the delivery of high-quality products or services.

Consistency in all activities: Consistency is most important for the succession of any project. Consistency means delivering the same quality of work in different task. The QMS aids in ensuring greater consistency in each project process as well as increasing the company's efficiency by maximizing time and resources.

Minimize the amount of rework: The operations of the Company are focused on the production of high-quality products. The products' accuracy is continually tracked. If any defects are detected, they are corrected as soon as possible. The amount of rework is kept to a bare minimum for all type of manufacturing organization. So QMS is system which helps any organization to minimize amount of rework.

Establishing a Culture of Continuous Improvement: The continuous enhancement in product quality enables businesses to identify cost-cutting opportunities and maximize their effectiveness. And it possible with the help of QMS.

The above analysis only expands on ISO 9001 which is about Quality management. As described how it possibly could change the culture of an organisation, other standards such ISO 45001 can improve the culture of health and safety and ISO 14001 can result in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly organisation.

These standards require managers to communicate effectively with their staff and contractors to ensure they are on a same page as the top management which is devoted to enhance their organisational culture.

As it takes a while to change an old habit, this is a great practice for managers and their subordinates to start implementing best practices step-by-step and see the results in coming months or perhaps years!

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