Sustainable Learning LO11700
Tue, 7 Jan 1997 04:56:57 -0500

Replying to LO11681 --

John writes in his very astute response to my message:

>> I'm not quite sure what Ben means here by "discontinuous improvement", in
>> my own, Juran influenced world, it means "managerial breakthrough" and that
>> can be

What I mean by discontinuous improvement is sudden, unanticipated, and
dramatic changes in the way an organization works. I've experienced this
on a number of occasions, and everytime I have the only thing the managers
had to do with it was to sit by and watch it occur.

What I think many people _let_ ISO do for them is give them a false sense
of security: If I follow this procedure then I'm doing my job; If we
initiate radical change will shake up the entire Quality Management
System; Incremental change is the safest and most effective way to improve
our business.

Perhaps my frustration isn't so much with the standard as the way people
often respond to the quality system. I've found the three assumptioned
outlined in the previous paragraph to be fairly common in my division --
especially after our first real Internal Audit.

Tom Peters says "incrementalism is innovations worst enemy," or something
to that effect. And I agree. The ISO 9000 standard (at least 9001 and
9002) which I'm familiar with tacitly encourage incremental improvement.

Another question, that perhaps someone on the list can help me answer, is
what is quality in a knowledge based enterprise? This has occupied my
thinking quite a bit. I'm not sure how to define quality for my


Benjamin B. Compton

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