Nature or nurture?

ISO accreditation is not simply the product of committees.  Rear-Admiral Derek “Spike” Spickernell (RN) was the father of the BSI and ISO quality standards.  Other naval and military leaders also laid the groundwork in defence standards designed to ensure the safe delivery of weapon systems to their purchasers.

Derek “Spike” Spickernell

Military contractual specifications were the basis for the system of inspection that became BS 5750 and ISO 9000.  Spikernell helped them invade civilian life when he led the BSI and ISO.  Mrs Thatcher was persuaded the BS standard would give union-damaged Britain an unfair advantage against superior Japanese and German engineering. Eventually he convinced these countries also to ratify the new standard.  Superior new production methods did not have as good an advocate.  Perhaps it seemed a bit of patriotic cunning to tie up with bureaucracy the superior production methods they had developed, and to dominate the cartel that was being created.   His stated intentions were more humanitarian than this – maybe the consequences were unintentional.

Does it seem so smart now that the EU enforces laboratory accreditation and even gardeners and morris-dancers are brought to compliance by the marketplace coercion inherent in the ISO standards?  Who’s fighting for freedom now?

2-2.jpg (1800×1200)

Research is needed:

Psychogenetics of obsessive-compulsive disorder

There is evidence for a strong genetic component in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but the underlying genetic mechanisms are not clearly understood. Associations have been reported for the low enzyme activity allele of the COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase) gene and MAO-A (monoamine oxidase A), two enzymes involved in the neuronal metabolism of catecholamine transmitters, along with 5-HT1Dβ. MOG-4 (myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-4), a glycoprotein found on the surface of myelinating oligodendrocytes and external lamellae of myelin sheaths, dopamine D4 receptor, and region q34–q35 on chromosome 4 have also been reported as candidate genes but their involvement, if any, in OCD has not yet been determined.


J Clin Psychiatry 2002;63(Suppl. 6):30–33.
Obsessive compulsive disorder. Online Mendelian Inheritance in ManTM, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Accessed on 21 January 2003.

Do you think genetic evidence for obsessive compulsive traits might be found in some of the men who wrote the standards if their relatives’ genomes were investigated?  Just a hypothesis in need of testing.  It might be quite wrong.  There are other explanations.  The research of historians might be just as useful as geneticists or psychologists towards answering this question.

Perhaps it was the naval training. Controlling big, complex machines and making people part of these systems.   After leaving the senior service, was inspection of civilian systems just their way of continuing to exert control over people?  Is accreditation what can happen when you can’t tell people how to shine their shoes and make their beds any more? Better to be an inspector on demob than a floorwalker.  The BSI became a home for many ex-servicemen.

Did genetic defects make them obsessive?  Or was it the training?  Or the false philosophy behind the inspection system?  Or is it the inspectors taking things far beyond what the standard envisaged?

Is it right that their insecurity and love of control made listmaking normative for others?

Nature or nurture, or something different?

Checking for compliance against the written standard

This entry was posted in Bureaucracy, Economics, History, Laboratory medicine, Medicine, Politics, Psychology, Questions and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Nature or nurture?

  1. Howard says:

    Did you know that two evils have joined together?

    ISO9000 has been fused with lean?

    • ISOwatcher says:

      Thanks for pointing this out. It’s not a surprise. It sounds like a genetic reassortment to preserve the life and selling power of both systems; to embrace, extend, and extinguish inspection-free alternatives. Give it time and the fusion of systems may be seen in a revision of ISO 15189/17025. Then another round of selling for the consultants and inspectors. Later, a conjugation with 6 sigma to prove continual improvement of the standard? Will there be any need for productivity?

      I have written ( of how the Royal College of Pathologists, while distrusting ISO 15189/CPA/UKAS, is suggesting to the inspectors more pre- and post-analytical areas for them to inspect as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)! The College has suspicions, but is under pressure from the cartel’s inspection culture. It has not understood that inspection is not the way to improve quality. True quality will become worse as “expensive” professional staff are lost. Errors are increasing and are being covered up and subjected to Root Cause Analysis.
      Documenting the washroom is a KPI that’s been missed so far!

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