What is the Most Common Missing Ingredient in Management Systems?

The thought of “missing ingredients” for Management System Ingredients might sound like I have found a magic recipe.

It’s actually an obvious thing, but often overlooked….but, what is it?

In separate articles, I covered Corporate Safety Strategy, Key Performance Indicators, Leading and Lagging Indicators and Balanced Scorecards where I mentioned objectives and targets. In this article, I want to set the stall out on Management Systems and then get a bit deeper into how they interact.

Management System for Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) have two International “flavours”.

For Environmental (E), we have the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 14001 and for Health and Safety (H&S) we have ISO 45001.

We also have a “combo” version under the label “Integrated HSE Management System”.

Management Systems have been around for some time now and my “first date” was with ISO 14001 back in 1996.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

The first standard for the Environmental Management System was born in the form of a British standard known as BS 7750. Yes, we led the charge!

This later became the ISO 14001 standard, which was developed by the International Organization for Standardization in 1996.

Since then ISO 14001 has gone through several revisions based upon a review cycle. 

Health and Safety (Occupational) Management System

The new kid on the block is ISO 45001 (issued in March 2018).  It has been long overdue in my opinion.

I never understood why there was little effort in pushing for this International Standard.  Incidents and accidents don’t take breaks or holidays!

Oh, I am not saying that a Management System will stop or prevent accidents or incidents. But they do offer a structured framework which Organisations can use without guessing or creating their own.

In a “tiny nutshell”

Made popular by W. Edwards Deming (Ref: Wikipedia), Management Systems are based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) principle. 

It’s also known as PDCA, Plan–Do–Study–Act (PDSA) Cycle, Deming Cycle. In fact, Deming more often referred to it as the “Shewhart cycle”….confused?

Later in Deming’s career, he modified PDCA to “Plan, Do, Study, Act” (PDSA) because he felt that “Check” emphasised inspection over-analysis.

Based on my own experience “Plan-Do-Analyse-Refocus (PDAR)” are perhaps better focus words. 

What is the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Loop?

The PDCA loop is basically a 4 Step Model for carrying out change, in repeat model.

In other words, the loop should be repeated again and again so that we are “continuously improving”.

Generally, all standards capture several years of experience that the authors and industry provides. 

What this means is that Organisations benefit immediately from such contributions.

About those “missing ingredients”

Let’s give some thought to “Plan-Do-Analyse-Refocus”  (PDAR) as mentioned above.

Prior to doing any “Do-Analyse-Refocus”, a successful “Plan” relies on knowing what is required. This where a Gap Analysis provides valuable insight.

In the majority of cases, my Clients with a Management System tend to show their “Achilles heel” in the “Do” part.  

This is perhaps not a surprise?  There is rarely a shortage in “Plan”, “Check” and “Act”.

Yes, internal audits are part of the “Check” process. They identify issues related to “Do”, but corrective actions are often poorly defined and somewhat a “cop-out” (e.g., write a procedure to “Do” when the issue could be more deeply rooted).

What to Look Out for:

Label it whatever you want. 

For your Management System, keep a close eye on those ingredients (Plan-Do-Anlayse-Refocus). 

It’s easy to show bias towards your favourite focus word in the PDCA (or PDAR) loop because that might be where your strengths are.

However, the “Do” part requires team effort and this is often the missing ingredient.  Let’s also not forget that increasing awareness via training on management systems (via Training Needs Analysis) will also help towards future proofing.

To conclude:

  • Do “Do”
  • Check “Do”
  • Make sure you “Do”
  • Make sure you “Do” it properly.

Feel free to add more to the “Do”, but we will leave it there. 

Just “Do”, otherwise, it’s a waste of time and valuable resources.

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