Wednesday, 22 July 2015

ISO 9001 revision - what knowledge managers need to know

For those not familiar with ISO 9001, this is the over-arching international standard for Quality Management. After a four year gestation, an update http://www.iso.org/iso/iso9001_revision is due out in September. For the first time this requires any organization adhering to the standard to demonstrate 'the management of organizational knowledge'.
I've had the devil's-own job navigating the ISO website trying to find out what this really means for those of us working in organisational change and knowledge management.
This is all I have been able to glean about the new requirement:
1. Determine the knowledge necessary for the operation of processes and for achieving conformity of products and services
2. Maintain knowledge and make it available to the extent necessary
3. Consider the current organizational knowledge and compare it to changing needs and trends
4. Acquire the necessary additional knowledge.
Why the words in bold? I am a fan of Josh Bernoff's blog www.withoutbullshit. In this posting he talks about the insidiousness of the 'passive voice' and how to avoid it. The highlighted words above exhibit the worst of this trend. To be fair, there may be more detail on what is meant by the 'knowledge necessary' or 'the extent necessary', however I can't find them in the labyrinth that is the ISO Technical Committee's website. I certainly hope that the final ISO 9001 document is written in more explicit, directive and helpful terms. If not, this is a missed opportunity to leverage the global International Quality Standard to reinforce the importance of knowledge transfer in organizations. 

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