In December we were audited for ISO compliance. After a week of staff interviews, project reviews and records inspections we were certified to the 20252 standard. Good for us!
Now I recognize that there are more than few people in the industry who think ISO certification is some kind of retro thing that does not reflect how much the industry is changing. More on that in a bit. But first let me say that when it's all said and done ISO 20252 comes down to four pretty basic things:
- Making sure that people know how to do their jobs and can succeed in the assignments we give them.
- Ensuring that everyone on a project team understands their individual roles, the roles of their colleagues and how to work as a team to produce great work for their client.
- Being completely transparent with clients about what was done and how it was done so that they can make whatever business decisions they need to make with confidence.
- Minimizing the mistakes that generate rework and disappoint clients while maximizing the chances of learning from those mistakes.
Now back to those folks who say that ISO is for the dinosaurs and out of place in the fast-moving world of contemporary market research. Or that all that process ISO insists on works against the innovation that is the supposed life blood of boutiques and startups. I think that's nonsense. A well-defined infrastructure of process and procedures need not be a barrier to change. In fact, it can make it easier. In Good to Great Jim Collins observes that in great companies people work within the framework of a highly developed system that fosters what he calls "a culture of discipline." When you have a culture of discipline you spend less time managing people and more time managing the system. And when change is called for you change the system, not the people. That's also what ISO brings you. I recommend it to you one and all.