I have been a huge fan of Christopher Paris’s work essentially since I first started in Quality Management way back when. His Eyesore 9001: A Smartass’s Guide to ISO 9001:2000 (now in 2008 version) basically saved my bacon when I was a Quality newbie. It was useful and applicable, and it told me that I wasn’t going crazy and that no matter how ISO tried to dress up 9001 as a standard for both ‘products and services’, it really, really wasn’t written for services at all (or by anyone who understood service organisations?), especially human services.
For ISO’s 2015 version of 9001, Paris hasn’t released an Eyesore – instead he went down the rabbit-hole and has written and published an entire book. This book is the most comprehensive drill-down of the ISO 9001 that you will ever read. How Paris made it out of his analysis alive and sane could be considered a miracle (or did he? Someone let me know), as he has really left out no detail – it’s pretty much a word-by-word breakdown of what is, in my opinion, the worst written anything of everything.
I have, since the beginning of my Quality career, been a huge critic of the use of ISO 9001 in human service organisations. I absolutely believe that organisations should have management systems in place, and should be concerned about the quality of their services and how they achieve quality for their clients. But it scares me that governments have written into service agreements that human service organisations must be certified to ISO 9001, and that some organisations are voluntarily opting-in (because they think it helps prove that they’re doing the right thing) when the standard just isn’t written in our language and is still very much “we make products” focused.
(Also, governments, there are so many human services quality standards you can now pick from that you could ask organisations and services to demonstrate compliance to (without needing them to be certified if the standard is from another state). Why waste time with ISO 9001?)
Paris’s book is amazing, right from his documentation of the history of how the standard comes about (which should be appalling to all of us quality professionals), to his breakdown of the clauses, to how we can apply it in our organisations – but (and this is not Paris’s deficiency, but rather my conclusion), his book only further convinces me of the unsuitability of ISO 9001 for our industry. That being said, if you do work in human services and you do need help figuring out ISO 9001, this is the best book you could buy to help you.
PS – this blog post is not sponsored, and I don’t know Christopher Paris and I’ve never done any work with Oxebridge. I just really respect what he is trying to do and I have genuinely found his work to be very helpful to me as I’ve tried to navigate the ISO 9001.
Book review: Presenting Data Effectively: Communicating Your Findings for Maximum Impact by Stephanie D.H. Evergreen
It would be wrong of me not to declare from the outset that this review is a bit biased, but…I’m totally biased. I have been reading Stephanie Evergreen’s blog since I found out about her last year at an evaluation conference and I think her writing style is terrific and her blog is an accessible and relatable
resource. In short, I think she is tops, and so I was very eager to get my hands on this book.
You know those people that describe themselves as “I’m a visual person”? Well, I’m not one of those. I like words, and lists. I now love doing flowcharts, but data visualisation is much more than that. I think that knowledge of the presentation of data is so important to the future of the quality profession. As quality managers / internal auditors, our job is to communicate. I would hazard a guess that most of us are still using text, or, at best, a couple of graphs here and there. This book encourages us to step it up a notch—but there is also a section on graphs that is very useful, should we need to stick with those.
Within the first eight pages of this book, I thought to myself, “I can do that presentation I’m working on much better”, and immediately applied what I’d already learned to my pretty-boring PowerPoint. That is how practical this book is. As you’d expect, the book is presented and organised really well. It is set out as a course, and invites readers to engage, play and give new things a go. It is also full of useful additional resources.
Being so detailed (I really loved the how-to of using images in PowerPoint), this book is very useful for beginners—and also for those of us who consider ourselves to be intermediate Office users. I learned some tricks about image placement in Word that I know I will use repeatedly.
Plus, I never knew I was so interested in fonts. But fonts are interesting! Reading this book made me want to change every heading in every report I’ve ever written. In a good way.
There are some challenges in this book for us old-school report-writers. Evergreen's ideas around bullet points seem almost revolutionary and dangerous—honestly, I don’t know if I could do what she suggests, but this book intends to push us beyond our boundaries…and it works in that respect, as Evergreen’s writing is intellectually persuasive, although (obviously) nothing beats her pictorial examples. A look at her 2011 Annual Report is inspiring—so simple, yet so effective in delivering its message. It left me wondering…could I write an audit report that way? This book made me think about the possibilities.
This book has managed to change my thinking, but, much more than that, has given me the practical tools and tips for how I can actually go about doing things differently. In that respect, it is excellent value-for-money and well worth the time investment.
Thanks for reading,
Book Review: Actionable Evaluation Basics – Getting succinct answers to the most important questions (minibook) by E. Jane Davidson
“Evaluation is about delivering clear, well-reasoned answers to the most important questions.”
I had the pleasure of attending a conference last year where E. Jane Davidson presented and she was a stand-out—she was clear, articulate, funny, and, most importantly, I learned something from her.
Since then I’ve been eager to get my hands on more of her work and I thought what better introduction
than to read her minibook. Plus, I am a firm believer that, no matter how much you think you know, reviewing the basics is never a waste of time.
This minibook is inexpensive but packs a lot of punch. Davidson’s Six Key Elements of Actionable Evaluation simplifies the usually perceived huge task of evaluation into manageable bites that made me feel like evaluation is something that is achievable, even if you just start small, and even if you don’t have lots of
letters after your name.
I found most useful the section on evaluative questions, as Davidson really gets to the crux of evaluation (and does so passionately and with authority). If you’re a novice, I’m sure you’d also find the section on
evaluation reports very useful–Davidson gives practical advice that can be used in many contexts (for example, for internal audit reports).
Davidson includes links to some useful resources and further reading as well—because I bought this as an e-book, it was great to click and go, so I’d recommend buying it in this format if you’re interested in easily pursuing further reading.
If you’d like to know more about E. Jane Davidson, or get a copy of this minibook, here’s a link to her website, Real Evaluation.
Thanks for reading,
I am a firm believer that in order to “do” really great quality management, you must at least have a basic understanding of working with data–specifically how to read it so you can so something with it.
I got onto this book (via Stacey Barr, Performance Measurement Specialist and creator of PuMP, a performance measurement methodology) because I really wanted to learn how to better understand my data–what’s normal and when should I act? What exactly is an XmR chart and how on earth do I read
I’m happy to say this book delivers on answering these questions, and does so in a simple and easily understandable way, for the most part. Some of the book gets a bit technical and I couldn’t really relate to the examples (being from a service industry), but don’t let that stop you from reading this book if you’re
interested in and want to do more with your data (like motivate people to action). I also loved Wheeler’s examples of how businesses can do data badly–you’ll cringe, but you’ll never make those mistakes again!
It is hard for me to believe that this book was published in 1993 because it is still so relevant. Added bonus – you can buy in fairly cheaply online (have a look at the stores that sell second hand).
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite lines from the book (I took notes to remind myself of what not to do!):
“No matter what the data, no matter how the values are arranged and presented, one must always use some method of analysis to come up with an interpretation of the data.”
Why I love this line is because I think that interpretation is a forgotten step when looking at data. As Quality Managers, when we look at data and information, we need to be asking "Why?" (getting to the root cause, if you like). And if we don't get good answers, we need to not be afraid to seek them out!
Thanks for reading,
The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!