I recently told a client that when I started working for US Steel at age 19, my boss would enlighten me with jewels of wisdom I have found to be true to this day! One of these principles are, “There are two kinds of people in this world: Simplifiers and Complexifiers. We are going to be Simplifiers!”
I regularly come across quite a few quality management systems that have become complexified through our efforts to please ‘the auditor.’ As recently as 10 years ago, it was the norm for everything to be written down. Every document, including decimal equivalents, had to be controlled… and everything, including pallets, had to be on the approved vendor list.
I have helped clients simplify their processes through the years by asking sanity-based questions like, “Do commodity items really need to be on the approved vendor list or even treated the same as a critical item?” The downturn of business conditions in 2009 really inspired everyone to re-evaluate their 10 year-old procedures… (i.e., “because that is the way we’ve always done it!”).
During our meeting, my client and I read the new ISO 9001:2015 guidelines together. We discussed how the implementation of these guidelines are trending toward simplification, so the management system can better fit the organization. I have always said that all organizations are slightly different, and a ‘one size fits all’ quality system – that some consultants try to reproduce everywhere – is not always what is best for an organization.
Being a simplifier is a trait valued by leaders. My client shared with me one his favorite quotes on leadership and I want to share it with you. Former United States Secretary of State and Retired 4-star Army General Colon Powell said, “…Leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” There is a lot of wisdom in simplification.
As professionals in the quality assurance industry, I think we owe it to ourselves, our peers and our clients to be simplifiers!
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