A few minor updates on the matter of the planned updates to ISO 9001:2015. As reported last week, TC 176 met to hold a largely secretive vote on whether or not to (again) overrule multiple prior world votes, and force an “early revision” to ISO 9001. That meeting was managed, however, by a set of new TC functionaries who appear not to have inherited the lackadaisical, conflicted tactics of the prior leadership. Instead, the meeting was reported as being efficient, effective, and — in a rare move — tolerant of all viewpoints.

The problem for those pushing for an early revision of ISO 9001, however, is that by allowing “all viewpoints,” those against revising the standard actually had an opportunity to speak up during a formal meeting, for once. And speak they did… multiple attendees reported to me that those against revising ISO 9001 were in the clear majority, to the point that usual mouthy ISO toadies were largely left silenced, afraid to speak up.

At the end of that meeting, it was clear that no vote could be held and, in fact, a “vote” may have never been considered by TC leadership anyway, and the entire thing was a pipe dream of a few people pushing for early revision. So convinced were they of their magic powers, they assumed they were going to shove a vote through, and were surprised when the meeting didn’t go as planned. Instead, the matter was punted to an obscure TC committee called CSAG.

CSAG was supposed to issue some statement last week, allegedly with some finality to it, settling this matter once and for all. That hasn’t happened yet, though, so the usual people are busy trying to influence CSAG’s decision both behind the scenes, and in public.

Dick Hortensius, using his role at the Dutch standards body NEN, submitted a report to TC 176 calling for an early revision, again arguing to ignore consensus. Hortensius has been personally contemptuous of the entire concept of consensus, at least so long as he’s the guy writing Annex SL and single-handedly writing huge portions of the standards without any oversight. Let’s be honest: this is the most power Hortensius will ever have in his life, and he’s not about to give it up without a fight. He’s also convinced his overlords at NEN that this is a chance for The Netherlands to exert its power over the world (for once), so they are scrambling like mad to get TC 176 to push ahead.

At the same time, gadfly Sheronda Jeffries chimed in with a report of her own, but with a decidedly muted tone that speaks to just how the usual shills are starting to learn to behave themselves when faced with formal criticism. Jeffries has been handed tremendous influence, all for her role in the telecommunications standard TL9000, which — to any sane observer — has been a monstrous, monumental failure. Despite that, Jeffries has converted that failure into gigs at ISO, TC 176, ANAB, and is now the unofficial spokesperson for three entire industries: telecommunications, aerospace, and automotive. Talk about failing upward!

In her memo, Jeffries simply relays some facts to TC 176, reporting that the IAQG folks who oversee AS9100 — including Alan Daniels, the chair of the US TAG to TC 176, presumably — are still calling for an early revision, since they want to update AS9100 anyway. But Jeffries also admits that both the telecommunications and automotive industries are honoring the world’s votes, and not pushing for an ISO 9001 revision. So take of that what you will.

Behind the scenes, I’m told, some usual gadflies like Jose Dominguez are still pushing ISO hard to force an early revision. Dominguez engaged in a little “off-the-books” mission to rally Latin American countries to toss aside the principle of consensus, even though he was, admittedly, trying to build a little consensus of his own to do so. The “Latin Bloc” initiative failed at the May 17th meeting, and Dominguez has been left with embarrassing egg on his face, and not a small bit of bad press for his clumsy, conflict-of-interest-laden attempt. Dominguez stands to make a lot of money through his Mexican office of Plexus, the training body, if ISO 9001 gets updated.

Finally, in a shocking move that I am still wrapping my head around, the new TC 176 leaders literally published the minutes of the May 17th meeting, along with the chat files of all attendees. They did remove the names of who said what, to preserve some privacy, but they did publish the actual, verbatim comments. It seems the new leadership has found a nice balance between the usual ISO “confidentiality” rules and the need for standards to be developed with “transparency.” I am told a few of the members are not happy their comments were made public, even if their names were removed. Others were thrilled with the new attitude of openness. I’m in the latter camp, of course.

So, as it stands right now, TC 176 is still under tremendous pressure from the ISO TMB (through NEN’s Hortensius), the IAQG (for AS9100), and the ISO Secretary-General (through his flack Nigel Croft) to ignore multiple votes by official ISO members, and push for that early revision of ISO 9o01. But the more even-headed approach of TC 176 leadership is throwing a monkey wrench into the works, and ISO is scrambling to figure out how they can update ISO 9001 now that so many factors are working against them.

But I’m going to be honest. There’s no way this ends without a revision. ISO has too much money at stake, and Sergio Mujica is not going to allow TC 176 to embarrass him.

About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.


ISO 45001 Implementation