The human face of the accreditation disease

Appreciating the paperwork

Whilst outside the laboratory focus of the ISOwatch blog, the comment below is highlighted because it eloquently shows the frustration and damage to workers’ lives caused by ISO-inspired accreditation scams.  The comments show how incomprehensively alien the accreditation philosophy is to engineers.  The language inspectors speak is strange indeed. Engineers’ expertise has been built creating products, not audit-fodder for inspectors.  The message also illustrates the industry of hangers-on consulting to help industries comply with coercion by the inspection mafia .

Quality Manual: Organisational chart

Despite (?because of) the importance of brand image and cartels within the car industry, key manufacturers are falling prey to a “quality” accreditation scheme.  Sadly, moving to another workplace may provide no escape as the accreditation disease spreads.  Senior managers are very subject to the madness of crowds.  Few got where they are today by thinking for themselves.

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

Toyota tried ISO 9001 and rejected it.  John Seddon explained it thus:

“The Japanese, coerced into registering to ISO 9000, complain that it has been undermining world-class thinking.  This year Toyota Japan have declared it will not use ISO 9000.  Now the standard 9000 is being revised.  After a five-year review, December this year will see the publication of ISO 9000: 2000, claimed as ‘an improvement.’  Already, the growth of registrations to ISO 9000 is diminishing in those countries where ISO 9000 has been well established.  In countries that follow rather than lead, the rate of new registrations continues apace.”

Other helpful essays are here.

Why does the European auto industry think it can do better?  Directors need to read this blog and explore the links.  Let’s hope they remember to count the cost of accreditation.


"It’s not often that a diminutive Renault driven by a 76 year old can bring the latest V12 Ferrari to its knees. Overnight reports suggest that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has parked his 599 GTB into the rear of a 76 year-olds Renault at about 100kmh...thankfully there are no reported injuries." Would accrediting the nut behind the wheel have avoided this?

The Health and Safety Executive are not looking into how the accreditation cartel damages lives.

Psychiatrists have yet to investigate the psychopathology of accreditation as a transmissible mental defect.

Are there any compensation claims for stress and burnout due to accreditation?

Who has tried suing an accreditation body for a defective product or service?

How can they claim to validate quality and yet be protected from liability when the system fails?

Is that why they emphasize that their inspection is “just a sampling exercise”?

Does that arrangement make you suspicious?

Would anyone care to explore this further?

Read on:

August 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I was relived to find these pages, and now I know I am not crazy but the whole world of certifications is pure crap.
Little note: forgive my English, I am italian.

I have to keep a long story short: I work for an automotive electronic accessories company. One and half year ago my boss hired a new technical director. One of the first things he did was to introduce the need to certify our software and hardware designing process. The certification is called SPICE ( Two guys of the italian branch of SPICE came to visit us and they kept speaking for 2 days about this thing. I was literally horrified because I didn’t understand what they were talking about. Apart from the bunch of new concept and words that I never heard before, like “assesment”, “capabilities”, “requirement”, “work product” the whole two days speach seemed to me as pure madness.

I kept repating to myself: “My G. what are these two men saying ? What am I supposed to do ?” The whole things was confusing, obscure, contradictory, overwhelming. I thought they were telling us a better way to work and design, and in this case I would have been glad to listen and learn something, but no, nothing of that.

They suggested us to but a book, which we bought, and I had the same horrible impression about the book. I cannot really understand what they are talking about.
The management of my company kept talking about doing this damned certification, but I have the impression no one really knows how to do it.

The I wend to the internet searching desperately for help. Of course SPICE is interest of a little group of companies, so I found next to nothing about it. Ah, of course I found the official websites, but again, they are totally useless.
Then I discovered that the ISO9000 is similar to what I am supposed to do.

If you replace the word “QUALITY” with the word “SOFTWARE”, then SPICE is the same of ISO9000.
The papers I am supposed to prepare should describe all the steps of the design of a piece of software. But I will have to invent all, I have to invent procedures that nobody has ever used, I have to create procedures that the designers are supposed to follow BEFORE beginning a process. What instead will happend is that the designer will continue to work in the same exact way as before, and there will be a pile of useless papers that tell how the process of designing should be done.
I already told the management that I find the whole thing as CRAZY as USELESS. AS a result I put my position in danger and they are convinced more then before to continue.
Of course they want a little shitty medal to show to their customers: “SEE ?? WE ARE CERITFIED SPICE LEVEL 2 ! HOW SMART WE ARE !!!”

But I mean, who is so crazy and stupid to believe that these certifications bring some improvements in the final product ?
Which customer is so idiot to think that company A is better than company B because A is SPICE level 2 ?

I mean, if people really believe this pile of shit, then we are really doomed. As a result, they will have disappointed a number of employee, included me, spent a bunch of money to achieve this certification, and no real advantage at all.

By reading your pages, I understand the ISO9000 is basically the same thing: producing useless paper that nobody will really use and understand. Money and time and resources are uselessly thrown away, and the disappointment of a number of employee.  I mean, is there some damned company in which employees are really following the “QUALITY MANUAL” ?

In the company I work, software designer, go directly from requirements to software coding. Almost alywas, requirement are verbal and nobody writes them down. (Of course we are doing rather simple products, not complex machines, so we can deal with it). This “do it yourself” method has produced do far no disasters, no dissatisfaction, no customer complain.

Why on Earth do we need to change ? For the sake of what ?
I hope the venting on these pages will help me to calm down a bit, because at first I was really enraged and desperate. At first I thought that it was a punishment and I even thought to find another workplace.

I think the whole certification thing is a scam of money. Workers gets crazy and they spend money to pay consultants to do the job. Consultants provide the same shit to everyone because they know what the assessors will look for. It’s nothing more than a scam.

I really hope I will have the strength to survive all this, but my relationship with my company is forever compromised. In the past I used to put many efforts in solving problems and to do my job at best. From now on, they can really fuck off.

Now I will pass the rest of my years producing useless paper, even if they don’t need it. I will stay comfortably seated on my desk instead of jumping here and there to solve problems.
I will have fun as they are having fun with their damned certifications.

John Seddon speaks on how IT projects go wrong here:

His criticisms of ISO 9000 are elsewhere.

And what can our correspondent do?

  • Probably not move to another company unless he’s certain similar jobs won’t also fall prey to accreditation.
  • Don’t invent the quality system from scratch.  Customise manuals from another company that has achieved accreditation.
  • Maybe use external consultants to put in place a system that will satisfy inspectors.  This isn’t about quality; it’s about ticking boxes.  Do what forces them to tick the boxes.  He knows enough already not to fool himself that doing more will add true quality.
  • Keep the system as simple as possible to satisfy the inspectors; that’s all it needs to do.  Don’t write more detail than is demanded.  It is a dysfunctional system designed to maximise irrelevant points of potential failure.  So minimise these stumbling blocks.
  • See that someone with an aptitude for this sort of work takes charge of quality and technical management and minimises its annoyance to more productive staff.  Avoid appointing an obsessive quality manager who believes in it too much; look for pragmatism.  Some people like this sort of dead-end work, especially if there are no other demands on their time.
  • If management are determined to do this, persuade them to do it in such a way as minimises the drag on productive staff.

Similar stories are welcomed so that readers can understand the human problems that are created when industries become prey to the accreditation cartel.

People need to speak up.  Customers should refuse to pay the costs accreditation adds to the products they want.

This entry was posted in Bureaucracy, Cartel, Computing, Management, Psychology, Questions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The human face of the accreditation disease

  1. ISO 9000 says:

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    iso 9000

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