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By Dusty J. Cruise
Missouri Enterprise President and Chief Executive Officer

Perhaps better than anyone, business owners and CEOs understand risk.  They deal with risk every day as they manage their companies. Their decisions, choices and actions inevitably try to mitigate risk, or at least take a given risk into account before making decisions.

“If we do this…what about that?”  In a nutshell, that’s the simplest form of risk assessment.  But the answers aren’t always obvious.  Hidden risk factors and unforeseen consequences of actions are always going to be there; the trick is to manage risk in a way that minimizes the chances for invisible issues to rear their heads.

Many of you realize that the ISO 9001:2015 standard revisions give greater impetus to risk management, directing companies to include the ISO standard from the top down…CEO to equipment operators and everyone in between.  This isn’t a new principle for ISO, but the emphasis is new and for good reason.  To truly enhance quality and embrace continuous improvement, the concepts need to be systemic, an integral part of the way a company does business, and it must include a company’s overall strategic and risk management.

One of my guiding principles as a CEO is, “It’s about the customer.”  And that’s really one of the most important reasons we choose to adhere to and embrace the ISO standard.  It helps the company, and me, make educated decisions and manage risk through information.  An important principle in ISO is CAPA, Corrective Action/Preventive Action.  CAPA helps us helps us identify issues, and more importantly how they happened, and it helps us make good proactive decisions for the future, always with an eye on risk mitigation.  With quantifiable information, we can make intelligent decisions on quality management and continuous improvement.  

ISO guides the path, so we don’t fly by the seat of our pants on important decisions.  The organization takes a proactive approach to problem solving, and minimizes the need for reactive decisions.  Risk Management and ISO go together, leveraging the strengths of the entire team, including voices from everywhere in the company, so we can make good decisions that ultimately please customers, and enhance bottom line profitability.

If you are adjusting to the new ISO 9001: 2015 standard…embrace it!  Ensure your corporate culture lives the standard at all levels.  That includes you, the CEO, all levels and areas of management, plus the team on the floor who have daily insights into the real workings of your production.  

If you’re thinking about ISO, I encourage you to avoid the naysayers who talk about “mounds of paperwork” …or those who get ISO certification just to meet customer requirements…because they’re missing the point of ISO…seeing only the details of process, not the overall benefits to quality, productivity and efficiency that comes with an organization that truly lives the ISO culture.  Once ISO is in place, operations and management can become easier, not more cumbersome.  Plain and simple, being an ISO certified company is good for our business.