In 2008, when I was member of a standardization committee, I had the opportunity to discuss with an official of the Hellenic Standards Organization about ISO 9001, the well-known quality management systems standard. I voiced the suspicion that, in practice, ISO 9001 didn’t have much to do with quality management, and that it consisted of a number of complicated processes that made a company work worse, not better, and that companies were implementing it just for marketing, in order to showcase the ISO 9001 stamp.
There was some truth to that, he said. If all a company wanted was to showcase the stamp, they tried to implement the standard without making substantial changes to the company processes. The standard’s processes would then clash with the company’s true processes, resulting in the standard getting in the way. But when a company reworked its processes in order to truly adapt them to the standard, the result was beneficial.
Software and automation are similar in that adopting them requires changing the company processes. If you rush to adopt some automation without thinking about the repercussions first, you are headed towards a nasty disruption.
“Remember, technology is an enabler, not a solution in and of itself. Think people, process, and technology, in that order of importance.”—Damodar Sahu, or maybe Steve Tracey, or maybe Kusumal Ruamsook, in a recent article, “Managing supply chain complexities“, with which I generally disagree because of its vague usage of the term “artificial intelligence” (about which I’ve written in the past). I also share Kris Kosmala’s skepticism on the article. But I like this quote.
The photo of a fish wholesaler in Tsukiji, Japan advertising its ISO 9001 certification is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons.