“Quality is not an act. It is a habit.” – Aristotle
At its core, ISO 9001 is about improvement and management of systems to ensure consistent quality. As we consider ISO certification and work toward compliance in a professional setting, we see all the ways in which our company will benefit from the improved workflows, reduction of waste, monitoring of risk, and exploration of root cause to nonconformances.
But what about standards in our daily life? We’re spending tons of time and energy to ensure the quality of the product we deliver meets the expectations of our customers and clients so that our business can continue to grow – why not employ the same principles to the habits of our personal lives?
Sure, we can look at the standards that the items we use every day need to perform to (like our car getting us to work or our alarm clock waking us up). But we can also dig deeper than that. How can we take a holistic approach to the way we function at the most basic level and apply ISO principles to improve ourselves, our way of living, and ultimately, our life satisfaction?
Setting Processes and Streamlining your Systems
When you dig into your day-to-day, it’s not hard to find the processes and systems you live by. It’s also not hard to find areas that, with a little work, could be improved to serve you better. From our morning wake up routine to the way we go about organizing our pantry, there is room for introspection and improvement in every aspect of our life.
ISO 9001 guides us into the exploration of the processes that result in our deliverable, and challenges us to streamline our task list. What actions are we performing repeatedly that are unnecessary? How can we minimize effort while maximizing outcomes?
Take a step back from your day to day and define the actions that carry you through, dialing it back to the most basic tasks necessary that help you succeed each day. In paring down to the bare necessities, you will likely find areas of effort that aren’t adding value – cut them out and move forward with purpose.
Another goal of ISO 9001 is the management of risks that can impact the quality of your deliverable. This same tactic of evaluation and examination of risk that could impact your personal life is good practice that could end up helping you in the long run.
Building awareness of potential risks in your personal life will help you set plans in place to navigate them should they cause issue. We take out insurance policies on our homes, cars, and health, but there are many more risks we can face on a daily basis. With awareness and planning, those risks can have a smaller negative impact on our days.
And negative outcomes aren’t the only ones we need to consider – awareness of risks helps us plan for increased positive outcomes to risk. For example, in homeownership, the navigation of real estate transactions is a risk. By having an awareness of the risk associated with our interest of buying or selling, we are able to make educated decisions based on market performance and current home values.
Planning for Change
Much like customer demands in business, life is constantly changing. In the same we evaluate our daily processes and the risks we face, we can also employ ISO 9001 techniques to help us move smoothly through the inevitable occurrence of change.
New jobs, marriage, children, aging – life is full of change. With those changes come shifts to our processes. ISO 9001 encourages us to first examine our desired outcomes, and then create a plan to achieve our goals. Enter the PCDA cycle. When you’re aware of a change on the horizon, take the time to plan for the outcome you hope to achieve. After putting the plan into place, step back from time to time to ensure you are still working toward your goal. If you’ve gotten off course, adjust your processes to get back on track.
Finding the Root Cause of Problems
With the mention of adjusting process, we come to the concept of root cause analysis and corrective action.
We encounter problems almost every day. Some of them are simple mishaps that can’t be avoided, but others are the result of persistent, repeated failure in a process we follow. When the problem finally occurs, we don’t always dig deep enough into our processes to really solve it, leaving us at risk of the problem happening again.
In an extreme example, say you experience a fire in your laundry room (BIG problem). While you’re working on repairs to the damaged area, you need to do more than just rebuild what was burnt. It’s important to step back and ask WHY the fire occurred in the first place, and dig into the ROOT of the problem far enough to solve the true cause.
Why was there a fire? -> The wiring shorted out behind the dryer.
Why did the wiring short out? -> There was a loose connection behind the wall.
Why was there a loose connection behind the wall? -> The wiring was installed by your neighbor and he didn’t really know what he was doing.
There we have it. The root cause of the problem was poor installation – not just the loose wire. As you work to repair the issue, you’ll know to call in a professional who can ensure the work is done properly.
When you take the time to identify the true cause of the problem, you better prepare yourself to avoid reoccurrence of the same issue in the future.
Setting Benchmarks to achieve Improved Quality (of Life!)
Finally, ISO teaches us about setting benchmarks for quality to ensure our customers are always satisfied.
What if we employed this same principle to ensure we end every day feeling accomplished, fulfilled, and happy? What if we were as committed to our personal satisfaction as we were that of our customer?
Set benchmarks for your own life. Define for yourself the most basic, important, and impactful outcomes you need to feel satisfied, and then make sure the processes you’re following help you reach (and exceed) that mark.
Improving our personal quality of life takes practice, patience, and plenty of introspection. For most of us, we’re programmed to worry about others around us more than ourselves. We don’t take the time we need to make sure we are doing all of the things to end our days feeling that we have achieved our own standard of quality.
Think of the impact it could have on your life if you did. Think of how much more satisfied you would be – in your work, relationships, and recreation – if you had the same kind of process understanding, planning, and goals you have for your business. Examine your habits, apply ISO principles, and achieve real quality in all aspects of your life.
To learn about ISO 9001 Quality Management System certification and consulting services visit Core Business Solutions ISO 9001:2015 Page