The Future of Quality Management is Business Management


The definition of quality in products and services has been evolving since the beginning of the industrial revolution. So have the methodologies of ensuring a desired and predictable outcome to any process. We’ve created a profession around it that has advanced from QC to QA to TQM to our current forms of quality management. With each iteration, the scope of the methodologies grew and became more complex.

As businesses, processes, products, and services became more complex, the compelling need to minimize defects and errors grew. The quality profession evolved more and more sophisticated quality management systems to fill the needs of their businesses.

Or did the profession of quality take on a life of its own and continually evolve our tools to create its own society? Did business owners ask us to develop more robust quality management tools or did we sell them on how we could improve processes and increase quality if they would authorize us to implement the latest fad?

The answer is that we have overengineered our profession and created behemoths of size and cost with the common goal of minimizing opportunities for defects to occur. Enlightened business leaders no longer see the cost/benefit they were expecting.

ISO 9001 certifications peaked in in the mid 2000’s and are now less than 30% of that number in the United States.

Enlightened quality professionals have seen the handwriting on the wall and are facing a bleak future as quality professionals and as auditors. There is a disturbing article in Exemplar Global ’s The Auditor Online entitled The Decline in ISO 9001 Certification: Does Quality Matter Anymore? By Julius DeSilva. It is a reality check on the future of ISO 9001.

Six Sigma is also on the decline. A powerful analysis of “What ever happened to Six Sigma” was in the September 3, 2019 copy of Quartz Magazine. The reason is basic economics, cost versus value. If you are among the thousands of “belts,” many savvy CFO’s have been studying the return on investment and not supporting the program any longer.

The Six Sigma community is so self-invested, that they are not looking at what is happening to companies like GE, that led the phenomena, and are now in decline. You can fade into of history like quality circles and Jack Welch, or you can expand your horizons and potential by paradigm shifting from the traditional tenets of quality management.

The Pandemic and Quality

While there are clear signs that the current quality management models are no longer serving many businesses, ASQ membership is in decline and many quality professionals are in denial, along comes a pandemic that drastically disrupts the global economy.

Business leaders are scrambling to devise methods to keep their companies open and operational. Some can keep their deliverables flowing through home officing of their people. Others employ social distancing and other safety guidelines to keep operations going at a scaled down level.

The pandemic has dramatically expedited the decline in the ongoing shrinkage in the need for quality professionals. If you are an internal quality person, you are likely looking over your shoulder wondering when the pink slip is coming or planning for early retirement.

The immediate lessons from the perfect storm of 2020 are that we are, as a nation, unaware of the potential risks that are looming within and beyond our control. Also, within the quality world, we are just now including risk into our lexicon, but we really do not have consensus of what risk is and what our role is in removing risk.

Rising from the Ashes

The perfect storm of tragedies has also spawned a unique solution to us becoming the champions of the new normal. We are building the new model how to pioneer the future of business recovery, growth, and excellence.

Apollo Business Solutions has teamed up with Exemplar Global, Quality Digest and the Kaizen Institute to create a breakthrough approach for quality professionals to become the new champions of business excellence and risk avoidance.

We are constructing training and certification in Forensic Business Pathology™ which will become the new gold standard in business management. It builds on the infrastructure of ISO 9001:2015 but adds the tenets of business excellence and risk avoidance. The essence of this new direction for quality professionals has recently been published in Quality Digest and Exemplar Global’s Auditor Online by Tom Taormina.

This radical transformation in direction is the result of our admission that our approaches to quality management have been fundamentally flawed since the first attempts at quality control were formulated. We have spent generations perfecting our tools of quality, but not relating them to the prime objectives of our organizations.

In the transition from quality management to business management, we will learn what is important to the overall success of the business. We will become the motivators for senior management to create a vision, mission and value set that will become the inextricable foundation for whole-enterprise excellence.

Within the quality world, we are just now including risk into our lexicon, but we really do not have consensus of what risk is and what our role is in removing risk. From lessons learned in products liability and organizational negligence litigation, we will redefine risk and liability. You can learn the consequential definitions of risk and, rather than mitigating it, you will become a champion of risk avoidance.

Call to Action

What is missing from our current quality management models will cause us to become even more irrelevant if we continue with our focus on quality tools rather than on overall business success.

Our new role is to lead organizational change from the macro level instead of attempting to sell the relevance of quality management. We have the tools to design business models free of foreseeable risk and committed to business excellence at all levels.

We are at a unique moment in history where you can lead evolutionary change in business management. Quality professionals with proven auditing skills are the candidates to be a pioneer instead of becoming an anachronism.

Envision how you can breathe new life into ISO 9001 certified companies with the quality management system being replaced by a business management system. Building your new BMS may contribute to the global renaissance of ISO 9001 being the building blocks for extraordinarily successful companies.