Stop Striving – Some Tips on Writing (Or Reviewing) Your Quality Policy

ISO 9001 and related industry sector standards require that an organization document and share its quality policy.  The requirements for the policy are found in ISO 9001:2015, clause 5.2 and below you can find some tips, advice, and rants on how to (and how not to) write a quality policy.

1. Objectives First

Before writing a quality policy, I recommend the organization define their organizational objectives (see clause 6.2.1).  Defining objectives before writing the policy will probably appeal more to people who prefer numbers over words.  In the world of business, we are held accountable to numbers, measures, and performance to target – achievements are typically rigorous and analytical.  Because an organization’s policy must be consistent and compatible with its objectives, I recommend defining or reviewing objectives first.  The quality policy should be a concise promise statement to achieve organizational objectives.  When the policy is written after objectives are established, the leadership team can confirm consistency between the policy and objectives.

2. Specific, Not Generic

YOUR COMPANY NAME HERE is committed to achieving customer satisfaction by meeting customer, statutory/regulatory, and internal requirements by providing quality products and services while continually improving our processes.

I’ve read dozens (hundreds?) of quality policies like the one above.  And I would argue that it does not comply with ISO 9001:2015, clause 5.2.1(a).  I cannot determine the organization’s purpose, context, or strategy by reading the policy above.  What does the organization do?  Who does it serve?  What does it provide?  What type of environment is it operating in?  I don’t know either.  But if you can substitute another company name in the policy and it still reads okay, it is too generic.

3. Stop Striving

Yes, the quality policy must include a commitment to meeting requirements and continually improving (reference ISO 9001:2015, clause 5.2.1(c) and (d)).  And it is here that I often find the word “strive” or “striving.”  Maybe it starts, “XXX Company strives to provide quality products” or “YYY Company strives to delight customers”.  Have you ever looked up the synonyms for the word “strive”?

Contend.  Hassle.  Struggle.  Toil.  Strain.  Fight.

Do you want to communicate to your employees, auditors, customers and other interested parties how difficult it is for your organization to provide quality or satisfy customers?  Shouldn’t this be something you excel in?

Shine.  Transcend.  Exceed.  Master.  Surpass. Outperform.

Words are important (as are numbers); choose them wisely.