I love the phrase “you don’t make mistakes, you simply produce results.” In the competitive business world, more engineers and managers would do well to keep this idea in mind; it makes it easier to change a pattern and produce different results. As an engineer, I know I want to learn more about the “mistakes” and lessons learned from them than about the usual successes. And when I’ve published articles with that theme, I know my fellow engineers feel the same, as these features are the most highly read.
A recent report from Stratasys Inc., (NASDAQ: SSYS), maker of additive manufacturing machines for prototyping and producing plastic parts, proves to be a good example of this. The company just received ISO 9001: 2008 certification. Had it not been for an earlier experience, however, management may not have viewed the pursuit of this certification as importantly as they do now.
ISO 9001: 2008 provides a structure for a quality management system that strives for customer satisfaction, consistent quality, and efficiency. “Our new quality management system gives us a foundation to grow capabilities in direct digital manufacturing,” said Stratasys Chief Operating Officer Tom Stenoien. “And receiving this certification sends the message that we’re serious about supporting production market segments, such as the aerospace, defense and medical industries, by implementing a formal quality management system that is supported by an internationally recognized standard.
“Earlier in our history we released a system to the market prematurely,” said Stenoien. “The product didn’t perform as well as it should have. We disappointed customers, and we spent a lot of money rectifying the problem. It was a tough lesson to learn, but after the experience, we became determined to never let it happen again. The experience set us on a course of continuous improvement that continues today. “
Studies have found that ISO 9001: 2008-certified firms outperform their control group. They have also found the initial investment is exceeded by the benefit of increased international trade and domestic market share. In addition, there are internal benefits such as improved customer satisfaction, better interdepartmental communications and work processes, and stronger customer-and-supplier partnerships.