Hope as a Preventive Action

November 14, 2006 at 9:57 pm Leave a comment

Section 8.5.3 of the ISO 9001:2000 standard discusses preventive action and its requirements. One such requirement is a documented procedure that defines five aspects of preventive action:

a) determining the potential nonconformities and their causes,
b) evaluating the need for action to prevent the occurence of nonconformities,
c) determining and implementing the action needed,
d) records of results of actions taken (see 4.2.4), and
e) reviewing the preventive action taken

Yesterday, I was away from work, but still got to see first hand why all those steps are valueable in a preventive action. Mike E and I took the dogs out for a quick hike. When we first arrived at Falls Ridge, Mike promptly said, “Hey there’s a wild turkey wing here.”

Sure enough, right by the car was a severed, rotting wing from some poor turkey. I managed to corral the dogs away from it and we went along our merry way.

On the way back, we neared the car and I noticed Henry’s pace pick up.

“Oh, I hope he doesn’t roll in that turkey wing,” I said and then I promptly got distracted by a nearby trail map. I was hoping to find historic details on a structure Mike and I were looking at.

By the time I turned my attention back to Henry he was actively rolling on the decomposing wing. I yelled and ran his way, but by the time I could reach him and pull him off, he had successfully rubbed his entire body over the carcass.

Henry (pre Turkey Wing Encounter)

So in this situation, I had successfully determined the potential nonconformity (the opportunity to produce a smelly, disgusting dog) and I knew its root cause (Henry is an idiot). But that’s where my effort stopped. I never took any action to prevent its occurence. Instead I focused on other items (as many of us tend to do with all our hectic work duties). Before I knew it, the dreaded nonconformity happened.

On the upside, I have examined the “results of the actions taken.” I can confirm without a doubt that “hope” is not an effective prevention tool. I believe this applies equally to both bad dogs and processes within an organization:

Hoping that the bad thing, the scenario that turns your stomach, does not happen– is not going to keep it from happening.

Entry filed under: 8.5.3 Preventive Action, Henry, Hiking, ISO 9000, Mike E.

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