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Howard Fox:       Hello everybody. This is Howard Fox for my cohost Randy Ford. This is the Success Insight podcast. I hope you are having a great start to your week and I am very happy to have back on the Success Insight podcast, Jim Moran. Jim is the president and founder of
In fact, Jim was one of our first guests on a Success Insight podcast. And Jim, welcome to the podcast looking forward to chatting with you today about a subject that you know, I think it’s certainly near and dear to my heart, but I was actually curious through your expertise in the ISO environment, the ISO space, how the topic of leadership apply. So thank you for agreeing to come back on and chat with us today.

Jim Moran:         Well, thanks for inviting me, Howard. As you know, my connection with ISO goes back to 1992 and it’s when you use the term near and dear to your heart, it’s probably, it’s been the main focus of my entire career for the last number of years and continues to be. It keeps growing more new standards committed every day to help organizations manage themselves better. And the interesting thing about this topic of leadership, when you look at ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45000, well I better tell what they are. When you look at ISO 9001 – the quality standard, ISO 14001 – the environmental standard, ISO 45001 – the health and safety standard, ISO 50001 – the Energy Standard, and ISO 27001 – the information security standard. Every single one of those standards, Howard has leadership in the dead center of the diagram explaining what the standards are, how the standard is put together. So leadership is honestly, the foundation that all of these standards are based on.

Howard Fox:       You know, it’s interesting as you kind of went right through that list, and also, as your evolution into the, I think it’s safe to say it. You’re an expert and ISO and these international standards and it’s good to be an expert. What does leadership mean in the world of ISO standards, ISO certifications? What does it mean?

Jim Moran:         Well, that’s a huge question but I’ll do the best I can that in order to get ISO for those listeners who aren’t ISO certified and the organization has to put together, what’s called a management system and then get a certified to it. In order to get certified, a third party comes in and audits them against the requirements of the standards I just mentioned. But as far as leadership goes, leadership is responsible for planning and guides, at least leadership should be guiding the planning. And that’s a whole separate section called, its no surprise, planning, and leadership also helps determine what the organization will have available for it in terms of resources, which is a whole another section, section seven, it’s called support,actually, that includes a infrastructure people, work environment, so on. But in order for an organization, you get certified, leaders have to demonstrate leadership and commitment.

Jim Moran:         They can’t just be there with a nice suit on, you know, men or women, either one, they have to demonstrate that they actually are committed to the quality management system or environmental management system or health and safety, whatever, by actually them personally taking accountability for the effectiveness of the system. And they have to make sure that they use or promote the use of the process approach, risk-based thinking. They need to provide resources. They need to communicate the importance of why they had this system. And it makes sure that the system achieves its results. They even have to demonstrate that they are engaging, directing, and supporting people to contribute to the effectiveness of the quality management system. Included in that is them demonstrating that they are supporting other relevant management roles. so the other managers demonstrate leadership as well. So I’d have to say, I think, I don’t think I’d be overstating things if I said that, leaders are the actual bedrock of a management system.

Howard Fox:       You know, it was interesting as you were laying the landscape out for how leadership applies within the ISO context, is from my perspective as a coach, working with business owners on leadership development team development. I’m thinking about leadership behavior. And as you were laying out, again, this landscape for us, we were actually talking about the role of the leader or leaders, and what they do or don’t do in the planning, the communication, the organizing, creating processes for staff to follow. Does it create any confusion for an organization that we are talking about people and their activities versus behaviors that they need to have in place to be thought of as a leader or a manager? A supervisor?

Jim Moran:         Well, I think all the work you do, would clearly demonstrate that leaders have an impact on an organization. And the nice thing about any of these ISO standards is that an organization gets to write their own procedures, ISO standards. And there are 17,000 of them. ISO standards tell you what you need to do, but they don’t tell you how you need to do it. So that’s completely up to you. We refer to ISO standards as being descriptive, not prescriptive. So leaders would be free to behave any way they wanted to, just they have to demonstrate that they’ve met those requirements we’ve just talked about. So any leadership style will get the results that that style, indicates, you’ve made a study of theory x theory, y theory z, Ono’s work, the management by objectives. You know, all those different styles. But I think in your work you’d also come down to the conclusion that it’s all based on communication.

Howard Fox:       Right. What would an organization that is marketing and branding itself as an ISO certified organization, versus one that did not, is it possible that they’re also communicating to their, what I call ideal clients and customers, what their culture is like? Because, if we adhere to ISO standards, what it means, we’ve got guidelines in place and processes, procedures, documentation of how managers need to interact with the staff and with their peers and with their customers, as a matter of fact, would have these standards in place communicate that we are culture is adhering to ISO, but also in the importance of what it means and how we run our business.

Jim Moran:         I think that’d be a fair assumption to make. Anybody looking at two or three suppliers, if two of them were certified and one wasn’t, they were kind of curious about what the third supplier wasn’t doing. That’s the beauty of ISO, it’s the short form for the Greek word Isos, which means equals. So they’d know that the two of the three companies had this leadership requirement met. Now you wouldn’t know how they get it, but you would know that a third party looked at the leadership requirements and said, yes, these people are meeting all these 10 requirements. And yet, in fact, it’s funny we’re talking about communication, in the one standard I mentioned ISO 45001 health and safety, they have an additional three requirements for leadership that all include communication with workers.

Howard Fox:       That’s very interesting. I can have my standard and I can document that I have it, how I actually put it into practice. So what I say I do and how I do it can be two different things.

Jim Moran:         Yes.

Howard Fox:       And then as a company, I can look at, let’s say, let’s use the customer experience. as an example, if a company says, if two companies are both saying they’re ISO certified, I can look at what is the public or what are employees saying about company A who it’s saying they’re ISO certified versus company B. So I can use research that’s available in the market to say this is a better company to work for because they take care of their employees, they’re ISO certified, they take care of their employees and they have a good reputation with their customer. So if there is an issue, there on the spot quick to help resolve it, prevent it from happening again, versus the company that just they’re ISO certified. But you know, look at customer service, the customer experience, you know, there are issues here. Every time we go to call them, I have to spend a whole day solving a problem and it’s frustrating.

Jim Moran:         That’s a really interesting point. As the purchaser of the services for me to those companies, you could actually ask them, each of them say the two company you’re thinking about as each company to send you their procedures or how they handle customer complaints. And that way, as the purchaser of their services or products, you’d be able to get a sense of what you’re just talking about. You’d probably see a nice robust system in one and maybe not quite so much in the other. And you can even ask to see results. And you could even ask for referrals from their customer, just like you would with any other service. You know, if you were getting a body shop service from your car for your car, you might ask or ask them to give you half a dozen names of people that had work done there.

Jim Moran:         But that’s, probably been one of them, I wouldn’t say bona contention, but the fact that a registrar, which is, by the way, sanctioned to do this work in the States by ANAB, and in Canada by Standards Council Canada. Like every country where ISO is implemented, and there are about 168 or something, now. In each country, the national standards body for that country has given a business the accreditation to go a do these audits. So that actually helps because they’re third-party, they’re external. They don’t have any affiliation with the company at all. But more back to your question, you couldn’t make a decision a year or you shouldn’t make a decision just simply based on the fact that they have an ISO certificate. One thing that the ISO certificate has on it is what’s called the scope. So you always need to check to make sure that the service or product you’re purchasing from any particular company is in their scope of services.

Jim Moran:         Like if you’re buying a welding service, you’d want to make sure that the welding was on their scope and you obviously get in touch with them and say, can you tell me a little bit about the certification for your welders? You know, that kind of thing. So as the purchaser of services or products from any company, you have every right to ask them for some details about their system. You probably wouldn’t ask for a record of the management review although that’d be a cool thing to do. I’ve never heard of anybody doing it. but you would definitely want to see their corrective action procedure. What are they doing when something goes wrong and they may or may not be willing to share customer feedback with you, but they should at least be willing to share the names of customers that you, they could use as a reference. Is that getting close to where you want to go?

Howard Fox:       I think it is. From my perspective as a coach, working with small business owners, I care about leadership. So it’s more than just the title and wearing a suit and a tie, et cetera and I was being sexist and I apologize to our, female leaders out there. But I’m thinking that leaders have to communicate. They need to be able to layout, here’s our vision, here’s what the difference we want to make in the marketplace with our product or our service. We need to ensure that our employees have all the tools and the resources to be able to do their job as efficiently and as effectively and as error-free and in a safe, stress-free working environment as they can. And part of that is their ability to communicate down through the organization, especially down to the supervisor or manager and down to the rank and file, but also, be willing to say and have a process in place where if somebody that is down in the shop, for example, has a concern that they feel safe and being able to bring it back up through the management chain.

Howard Fox:       And there should be process procedures in place to do that. So if I have an organization that is ISO certified and I can look at their records or ask them for references, I can look at what does the market say about them so I can do my Google searches, my Yelp searches, and look and go on Glassdoor and look at their reputation, both from the employees and from the people that have worked for the organization. So it seems like with ISO in the industries where it applies, that I can use it as guidance, as a guideline to say yes, you know, an organization that is ISO certified, I can work with them to improve how their leaders are communicating through, down into the organization. That’s what I’m getting out of this conversation right now.

Jim Moran:         Yeah. I’d be willing to offer up for your consideration, the idea that if a person like you could train leaders how to communicate better, I think they get a better value out of having their management system in place. And keep in mind, it costs a bit of money sometimes. A lot of money to build the system in the first place. But the way the model works, so they have to get registered to start with, and then they have to be audited annually. So many leaders would tell you that they spend, you know, a fair bit of money on ISO. It’s relevant to how big the organization is and how what kind of products they may, the environmental side, how nasty they are, for example, of a personnel agency, doesn’t impact the environment the same way as steel mill wood obviously. So the larger, more complex, more nasty the companies are that the more it costs them.

Jim Moran:         And I’m sure a lot of leaders wish they didn’t have to have this system in place cause it costs money and probably 75 or 80% of them don’t actually see a whole lot of value in it other than just getting onto bids lists so they could sell to people. But for that kind of work you do, you could actually show them how they could get a lot more out of their system if they were better communicators. And more, let’s see, what’s the word? Effective. We need more effective leaders. So leadership as we said earlier, really is this the core of a management system that drives the system. And of course your world. You talk a lot about leaders having to walk the talk. So if there are procedures, and many organizations have lots of them, you want to make sure that top management is using them as well, following the procedures, using the non-conformance and corrective action tools rather than just yelling at somebody, telling you to fix the problem. So I think your work would certainly show organizations through better leadership, how to get more value, more return on investment if you will, out of their ISO system.

Howard Fox:       You know, I’m curious, since we’ve gotten to know each other back in February when we did our first podcast and I’ve been, you know, keeping an eye on via LinkedIn, and I know you on your website you’ve got a lot of content, blogs and both include the written content as well as, audio or a video content. So your content is showing up on LinkedIn, which is again, one of the tools I use. So, and by the way, folks, if you are listening to this podcast, check out Jim Moran on LinkedIn. If you do just a search on Simplify ISO, you’ll find his company page. And Jim’s has, weekly, correct me if I’m wrong, but weekly, there’s a new podcast going up about some topic pertinent to the ISO space.

Jim Moran:         I’m pretty sure we just passed the 50 mark.

Howard Fox:       50?

Jim Moran:         Yeah. 50 videos up there. Some of them are actual content videos on what was clause eight, what’s clause seven, what’s clause six. But once we got past those seven clauses is, the following 40 or so 45, are just tips on either how to make your system simpler or just management tips in general. You know, there all kinds of topics.

Howard Fox:       What issues are still on the table for the company, the leadership team, when it comes to managing a quality system that could be impacted for the better, with more effective communication from management through, from leaders down into the organization. What are some of those issues that companies are facing today, how leaders do their worker can result in a more positive outcome?

Jim Moran:         Yeah, I mentioned, I’ve been around this world since 1992 and in 1996, I saw my first survey, of the results of that exact question. What is making you crazy with ISO, and the three, the top three things were document control and back then the systems were very documented heavy. Now, the second thing was not closing out non-conformances in time, and what that can result in, by the way, Howard is mistake or problem products getting out to the customer or a service being delivered in properly without being fixed, then the third thing, was in this thing called the internal audits, not getting them done on time or people being stressed out during audits when the registrar comes, that kind of stuff. And that was 1996, 20 years later, actually 30 years later, 20 years later, sorry about my math. BSI did a survey of 250,000 audits.

Jim Moran:         They analyzed 250,000 audits over a three year period. They have 80,000 clients, and they looked at the audits for year one, year two, year three, and they found unbelievably, 20 years later. And with all the automation that’s happened in every other darn thing, the top three problems are still exactly the same. Document control, not closing out, non-conformances, and this and this thing with audits. I have to say management plays a pretty big role in this since they, are the core of the system and a lot of them through better communication or better leadership style would probably be more aware of these things that are going on. Some leaders need to inquire about what sorts of radar they have in their company as well. How do they know things are going, either get tipped over to not confirming or how well are things running? And it’s important that we acknowledge the fact that things haven’t changed, and things haven’t really gotten radically better in any area. So leaders need to take, as I mentioned earlier, need to take responsibility for the effectiveness of the system. And that’s one of the requirements of the standard. They have to demonstrate leadership and commitment by taking accountability for the effectiveness, the management system, and communication is just such a huge part of that too.

Howard Fox:       You know, it seems to me that a leader or a manager can help minimize, alleviate these, these items, these non-conformances, documentation, closing out incidents that, more effective communication. So, having communication go, it would be nice to say seamlessly down through the organization, but what gets communicated at the leadership level, gets communicated down into the organization. We’ve heard, anecdotes over the years of what I say to you and you say to the person, you know, your neighbor, your neighbor says to their best friend, that message kind of deteriorates after a bit. That if we can improve the communication and create an opportunity for it to flow down through the organization, back up, improve it overall, then we can, it sounds like what you’re saying, reduce those non-conformances and the incidents, and we’re going to be more able to, when we have to get re-certified every year, or whatever, we’re more in a position to, it’s not as gut-wrenching because hey, we’ve got everything. We’ve got our documentation, we’re doing what we said we’re going to do. And when you come, when the registrar comes in to do a sort of recertification that it indeed happens. It just happens.

Jim Moran:         Yeah, it all works. The end, it’s a really astute point you raised here, and I think lots of top management don’t really understand how much they can impact the effectiveness of their management system. And if the management system is effective, they make more money. It’s just that simple. Errors cost money, re-fixing the same error, not only costs money, it begins to start to cost morale, that people get tired of fixing the same problem over and over. And if Top Management, first of all, isn’t that it’s recurring. And then if top management isn’t willing to invest the money it takes to permanently fix it or keep it from recurring, then they haven’t really demonstrated leadership, and they haven’t really taken responsibility or taken accountability for the effectiveness, the system, and the rest of the things that go along with that. I used to teach a college course when I’m teaching business at Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario.

Jim Moran:         And one of the lines in one of the videos I used to show was communication is a synonym for life. And I have to say that, any organization you’d go to if you were to ask them what three things would you want to be fixed here to make things work better? Without fail, one of those three things is always communication, internal communications. And it’s been the sort of bane of company’s’ existence for a long time. And of course, this is not just a particular sector of business, it’s in churches, it’s in nonprofits, it’s in the public sector everywhere. Yeah. And which brings me to another point, I think I heard you mentioned, ISO, are business suitable for ISO. Virtually any organization in the world could benefit from ISO 9001. It’s more, it’s not a production model. It’s a model for how to run a business well. And there’s pretty much every classification of business has been ISO certified around the world. I had not heard of a church yet that has been ISO certified. Like you’d take a broken soul, put your processes in it, and they’d be fixed. Apart from an actual church. I think just about every classification in the business you can imagine has been ISO certified.

Howard Fox:       You know it’s interesting is I have a new client that I’m working with now. We’re rebuilding her LinkedIn profile. She actually has a faith-based background who’s now becoming a coach specializing in the faith-based communities. And as when we were chatting for the first time last week, she had talked about all the angsts that happens as the, I guess the, they’re called lay leaders inside the church family, is their ability to communicate or inability to communicate and it has such an impact. And you know, I think the one word that I would think we could probably package this whole idea around ISO and leadership and communication, is culture, is what is the culture of the organization you want? What do you want to communicate out to your people, to your customers, to the public about you as an organization, your organization? What do you want to communicate about yourself? And if we don’t have those processes, procedures, standards in place where we’re striving to do better than those problems that are been around since you started in this industry, are still gonna be there.

Jim Moran:         It’s interesting too, one of the key pillars of ISO when I talk about what is it in general, three things we usually base it on are, one, one customer focus; two, the process approach, meaning everybody takes some kind of input. Everybody does a process. Two, it creates an output. That’s the process approach. And third, continual improvement. And if you can improve your management system, you will make more money, for us public service or nonprofit, it would mean you can stay within your budget more easily. So improvement really pays. And the other thing is about improvement, is that if people who are working with you, don’t notice something getting better every once in a while, even if it’s maintained at a flat-lining level, it’s gonna feel like it’s getting worse. And back to this thing called culture, I actually did a series of 10, called 10 building blocks for a quality culture.

Jim Moran:         And if you can build quality into the culture or health and safety or environmental awareness or whatever, then it becomes part of how you do business every day. And that’s what I love clients of mine to get to, get the point where nobody ever says, I’ve done my day’s work. Now I have to do my ISO stuff. And back in the 80s, 90s, even into the early to middle 2000s that was often heard that people had built the system in a way leaders weren’t aware of what was being done. Leaders weren’t aware that even maybe some of the things that they wanted as leaders, were causing extra work that wasn’t adding value. So that’s another nice thing about it too. The system’s completely flexible. It’s intended to continually get better. It’s intended to add value, it’s intended to help people get through their day better with fewer errors and more feeling of satisfaction.

Jim Moran:         Nothing better than getting a job done in any organization and feeling that sort of pride of completion. That kind of thing and especially if you happen to be in an organization where you might at some point or other see the customer using your product, you definitely see it when it’s a service company. You know, you’re giving a hairstyle, like that’s pretty satisfying. But a lot of times somebody who’s working on an assembly line making a bearing or something, and they never see it. So there’s another thing good leaders will do, will give people an opportunity to see the products that they’re making in, in action. Maybe even videos from companies.

Howard Fox:       Most definitely about that. Yes. Jim, we’ve taken up quite a bit of time here and I really want to thank you once again for sharing your expertise, your years of expertise. And it’s just such a fascinating topic, and as I’ve learned more about ISO and it just the connection back to leadership, and what it meant was really something I was very interested in. And I think there’s certainly in the industries that care about ISO professional development around leadership, communication, creating quality cultures. There are loads of opportunity, and you know, just starts with one step, and just figure out what that step needs to be. And Jim, if we have alluded to the LinkedIn site, but if folks want to learn more about you and your work about ISO, what’s the best way to do that?

Jim Moran:         Oh, thanks, Howard. We have a site, and it has a tab for these ISO tips. It talks a little bit about our management system, cloud-based platform. Anybody who is ISO certified, the little benefit from having a look at a platform, I’d be willing to do a demo for anybody pretty much anytime. And the platform takes care of those three things we talked about. In fact, Bruce Spur and I specifically designed it primarily to address those three specific issues: the document control piece, we’ve simplified it to the point where it’s completely automated and you can still print pages; the second one was not closing out non-conformances on time. And we have a built-in automated non-conformance system that sends out reminders, and even sends them out after the due date has passed. And then the third one is the internal audit issue. So we built some tools inside there to make auditing easier. A simplified checklist, blank checklist. A new automated system to tell you when the audits are due, that kind of thing.

Howard Fox:       Great, great. So yeah, folks definitely go out to Visit Jim Moran’s site, and as he had just said, lots of great materials out there. I think he has a checklist that’s available to out on the site, so you can opt in to get that.

Jim Moran:         10 ISO tips. There’s an ISO tips, free download there. And the other thing is the YouTube page. If you just go to Youtube and type in SimplifyISO there’s I think 51 or 52 videos there now and it’s growing each week.

Howard Fox:       That’s fantastic. And of course, go out to LinkedIn, you can search for Jim Moran and his URL ends with Jim, once again, thank you. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you and I’m so appreciative and grateful that you are willing to kind of willing to help me understand it. I had this idea and I just wanted to get your feedback on how leadership and ISO kind of work together. So I appreciate your flexibility and openness to having this discussion with me.

Jim Moran:         Well, I sure appreciate the chance to reach out to your audience and hopefully there’ll be some feedback. Maybe for future podcasts, we could do with a maybe answering some questions that perhaps could come out of this discussion.

Howard Fox:       Let’s see where it leads. Let’s see where it leads. All right, everybody, this is, I think we’ve gone, almost a full hour here. I didn’t expect that, but, we’re somewhat close to that and you can find us out on the SuccessInsight You can also check out my website. Howard Fox. It’s Fox Coaching Inc and I’m also on LinkedIn under Fox Coaching Inc as well. So wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, go out there, have a phenomenal day and we’ll see you again on the next episode of the Success Insight podcast. Take care now.

Jim Moran and the SimplifyISO Team have been helping organizations simplify their management systems since 1992. The team shows small and medium-size companies how to build a management system that’s easy to use and effective, and get certified and stay certified.
Jim invites you to visit him at

ISO 9001:2105 Essentials online training

If you or your quality team require a refresher or an introduction to ISO 9001:2015, Jim invites you to explore his ISO Essentials Training Course that is now available. Click ISO 9001 Essentials Training Course Preview to have a look. 

The SuccessInSight Podcast is a production of Fox Coaching, Inc. and First Story Strategies.