The Management System: Source of Good and Bad?
Under terminology I described a management
system as: "A combination of management activity areas or elements directed at obtaining an identified objective or
set of objectives.
To remain practical, I added:
"Within the context of my website, I assume that a management system is
directed at the elimination, reduction or control of accidents, incidents or other type of unwanted events
that downgrade the efficiency and results of an organization. By doing so, the end result will be a better
organizational performance with fewer (unnecessary) losses, in short: a better organization.
Management System Success = Management
The management system as I see it
management activity areas or "Elements" that are the main building
blocks of the management system necessary to obtain the objective(s) of the overall system
management activities specific activities to obtain the element
The Management System - source of all good and all bad?
The importance of the management system in controlling unwanted events is visualized in the picture below. This
picture represents the incident causation sequence that comes from the work and thinking of Heinrich and Bird. I
have added some of my own thoughts to call it the Total Operations Performance model.
basic thinking behind the model is that the management system, containing the management activity areas or
"elements", creates the basic causes that exist in the organization. These basic causes then produce the direct
causes (acts and conditions) that lead to accidents, incidents or other type of undesired event(s). Those may or
may not result in initial loss, depending on circumstances and barriers that may or may not be present. The final
loss then depends on the effect of the emergency remedial actions taken. PEP stands for Post Event Plan and
comprises all the actions to reduce various (material or immaterial, direct or indirect) losses that may result from the
incident, including business or consequential losses.
trust that you realize that practice does not necessarily follow the sequence given in the model.
People related issues are vital to the total sequence. These issues are either permanent or temporary. They may be
deficient (or "sub-standard") or they may be proper (or "standard"). If they are permanently deficient they lead to
imperfect organizational and production systems, imperfect technical systems and continuing sub-standard behavior
of managers, supervision, staff and other employees. Deficiencies are "built-in" and the only thing one has to do
is to wait to see that risks materialize into losses.
the people issues are temporarily deficient, they should be seen as deviations from an otherwise accepted or
"perfect" way of doing things. Even though they are temporarily, they can lead to permanent deficiencies in
technical or procedural controls and if these deviations - or their results - are not spotted early enough or if no
action is taken following their recognition, losses may still occur.
have provided multiple layers throughout the sequence (with the exception of the management system box) to indicate
that there is often more than one issue involved.
Two-dimensional models may, for example, give
the impression that only one person is involved while in practice a number of people – further “upstream” (to the
left) in the sequence may have played their role in the occurrence of unwanted events. For example, it may be the
act of the person directly involved in the execution of the work that triggered the incident resulting in loss.
However, that person may not have been trained properly (= act of supervision/management) to do the work or it may
have been the purchaser who did not buy the right equipment (= act of staff person) or the designer who did not
construct the work environment properly (= act of staff person). Or it may have been the manager (= act of manager)
who did not make sure that the purchaser was buying the right stuff and the designer was following state of the art
design criteria including ergonomics.
The above model can be read in negative way in the sense that all aspects are below standard to produce loss at the
Alternatively, the model can also be put in a positive mode to produce success in the end
box. To arrive at that desired situation all the
other issues in the model must be positive to create an organization that knows its risk and has taken appropriate
actions to control them. On top of that, the organization will have installed appropriate instruments to uncover
deviations from the normal (= proper/right) situation in order to take appropriate actions before those deviations
can result in undesired loss.
"Source of all
good and all bad?" You can answer that for yourselves but I think the answer, in principle, must be
Either way, the management system is important. Now what makes the management system really a system of management
are basically two things:
activities areas are included in the system
- the "content
the structure in which these activities areas are
embedded to make sure that work is done and results obtained
be effective, activities contained in the activity areas (or "elements") that make up the management system must be
properly carried out. To assist this, each of these areas must structured in such a way that the structure helps to
drive implementation as well as improvement of activities vital to the control of risk. This (generic) structure
starts with a need assessment, management statement, activity area coordination and then goes to identify the
activities of the activity area concerned and ends with assessment of activities, evaluation of results and the
periodic review and improvement.
A management system is actually more than just a plan.
It includes ways to carry it out. It indicates what is important to reach goals/objectives. It provides the two-way
communication channels providing allowing top-down and bottom-up communication and feedback providing further input
towards success. If you are looking for employee empowerment, you need a well developed management
The process to build a management system that
Oh, yes, I almost forgot: what is also important - and maybe the most important - is
the 17-step process along which the management system is build so that
all levels in the organization will be involved to make implementation of the system or plan easier.
Move to the next page to see the basics that will make the management system lead to the success you may be looking for.
The Principle Emotional ownership
People tend to be more willing to participate in planned change when they have had an
opportunity to participate and influence the process leading to change
I raised some questions in relation to a management
What is a management system?
A Management System
In essence, a management system is no more than saying: "this is what
we want and this is the way we think we will get there".
That can be done orally, by example or in written form on paper or
electronically but it does not necessarily make it effective in reaching the desired
For that you need three things: (i) process, (ii) content and (iii)
You find that in my book.
Of course there several definitions to be found, one being more "scientific" than
the other and the more scientific, the more complex and the more difficult to understand and communicate.
A contact of mine in Australia said: "When I first started to work in this industry I asked the question
"what is a management system" to so many people, from auditors to my operations manager and everyone had different
ideas and definitions, so at the end I only had a vague idea of the concept. I think from now on, when I get asked
the question by my friends or family, I'll simply use your definition, it is much simpler and it makes sense!
Thanks for that."
or not but you will always have some kind of a management system in your organization. It may not be written
down though, which will make it more difficult to communicate to stakeholders, even if your company or organization is small. It may not be
very good and it may not produce much or any results. But there are at least some activities there that can
form the foundation of a management system that will produce results.
question may be "why should we have a management system that works?" The answer is very obvious to me: "why not
have a management system that produces results that you want?" You are doing certain things anyway that are
part of a management system, so why not doing them in a way that they work better? And involve people who know
what to do, when and how?
also want/need a management system because your customers require you to obtain a certain certificate. That may
not be the type and quality of a management system what I would be looking for. If you are just looking for a
certificate, you will be able to find a consultant who will help you to set up a management system to meet
minimal certification requirements. And that consultant may also help you to make use a certification institute
that will issue a certificate meeting those minimum requirements. That will provide you with a certificate but
that may not produce the results you could have and which your customer may expect.
system is actually more than just a plan. It includes ways to carry it out. It indicates what is important to
reach goals/objectives. It provides the two-way communication channels providing allowing top-down and
bottom-up communication and feedback providing further input towards success. If you are looking for employee
empowerment, you need a well developed management system.
the Management System have to be in writing?
But if your organization
is a little larger than (very) small it may be difficult to communicate the contents - who shall do what,
when and how - to others. It also may be difficult or close to impossible to communicate to
external parties if it is not put on paper.
If you want a certificate
based on your management system it is a requirement to have it on paper so your system can be properly
Does a Management System make the working of your organization rigid?
Could be, depends how complex you make it and sometimes that is even needed depending on the type of
industry you are in. If you cannot afford
unwanted events, no matter what, then your management system may
have to be rather detailed and, if you want to call it that:
For the average industry if you start small and let your system grow
based on results you may just end up with the management system that fits your organization: not to large and
not too small, just right for you.
If you develop the management system using the
17-step process detailed in my book, it is very likely
that you end up with a system that
is supported all the way down in the organization. The detail will depend
of the qualifications of the people. That would fit in nicely with a
concept such as empowerment.
When is a management system a MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?
management system includes management activity areas or "elements" which you may also want to call "chapters".
The management activity areas - such as purchasing, design, training, management of change - include management
activities which indicate WHAT shall be done, WHEN and by WHOM. The management system would be backed up by
more detailed procedures, work instructions, etc. describing HOW the work needs to be
management system is a MANAGEMENT SYSTEM if:
What to expect of your management
answer: everything you expect from it. If only certificate, then your management system should deliver that. If
you want your management system to comply with legislation, then that should be the results of your management
system. If you want more than a certificate or compliance with legislation then it all depends on what you want
and you should make your management system to deliver. My book may show you
What form or shape?
not really matter as long as it is clear on what shall be done, when and by whom. And if it has the structure
to make sure that necessary activities are carried out and desired results obtained.
organizations build their management system parallel to the certification requirements. That is OK for getting
a certificate and could be enough if you want other results on top of that. In that case your management system
got to have the management activity areas necessary to obtain the results wanted and needs the structure to
also get those.
build your management system different from the layout of the certification reference, then it may help - for
certification purposes - to make a matrix showing where the certification issues can be found in your
should be in it?
The content of your management system will be
determined by what you expect it to do. If you want an ISO 9001 certificate, refer to ISO 9001, if you want an
OHSAS 18000 certificate, refer to OHSAS 18000, and so on. If you want your management system for other reasons,
include the management activity areas and management activities that you think will bring about the desired
In most cases you will include management activity
areas that are more or less generic to any objective that you may want to reach. Those include areas like:
hiring and selection of people, design of installations and work environment, design of products, training of
management, training of operating personnel, purchasing, management of change, etc.
structure should it have?
structure that you think is suitable as long as the structure would
stimulate implementation of activities and obtaining results. To facilitate execution of management activities
that are part of your system, it would certainly help if you build your management system along a process that
will facilitate implementation and cooperation of relevant people. The 17-step process is a route to management
Does a management system always mean
Not necessarily so.
Management systems are often set up top obtain a certificate such as ISO 9000, 14000 or OHSAS 18000. In fact
I think that certification often forms a road-block to improvement.
Why do I say that? He
are some of my arguments:
Management systems are
normally set up to obtain a certificate.
A certificate normally
represents an indication for a minimum level of performance. Once a company has reach that level,
the certificate will be issued.
But even the minimum
level may be less than what you expect because there may be quite a bit of interpretation as to
what is acceptable to get the certificate. That may very well depend on the qualifications of the
auditor and the policy of the certification institute and the level of what is “minimally
acceptable” may therefore vary quite a bit.
are normally competing for business in a commercial market so price is always an issue and the
lower price may mean lower auditing quality resulting in lower certification quality and a
certificate for less than minimal efforts.
potentially conflicting roles in one (certification) company or person: consulting, training and
auditing/certification. While formally the consulting will be separated from the
auditing/certification, the people involved may still be working for the same
auditors who often operate as independents. “You scratch my back and I scratch yours”. One auditor
doing the consulting for company A while the other will do the certification audit. Next time, for
company B, it may be the other way around.
consultants and auditors/certification institutes. Often certification is on demand of a third
party so the thinking may be: it has to be quick, easy and should not cost much. So if those
are the margins for the consultant needing the income, the consultant will know what is minimally
acceptable to get the certificate from the certification institute that is also eager to get the
Use of an external
consultant may provide a “management system” that is certifiable but that system may not have been
set up with much or any involvement of company personnel who will have to do the work. So there is
no “emotional ownership” within the company, it is not “our system“ because “we have not been
involved in making it”. The “principle of participation” applies here as well as the “principle of
Getting the certificate
may be understood by company management as “we are doing a good job”. That may provide a
false feeling of self-satisfaction and complacency.
Does it have to be that way? No, definitely not. There are certification institutes and auditors
that are different. The good consultant would ask the question: do you want a certificate or do you
want to get better in what you are doing? And there are people who can see beyond certification and
will use that what is required to get the certificate to make their company better, to get better
control over unwanted events allowing them to survive in a competitive
What about "integrated management systems"?
What we mean by “integrated management systems” is nothing more than
putting things together that belong together. A job well done is a job without unwanted events, be it
safety, or quality or environmental or anything else.
We call it integrated because we are putting together management
systems that were separate for safety, quality and environment due to:
historic reasons – the focus on these aspects did not develop at the
legislative reasons – safety legislation, legislation for health and
different certification schemes –
OHSAS 18000 for safety, ISO 9000 for Quality, ISO 14000 for the environment and you may be able to
add a couple more ISO or other schemes
requirements from customers
traditional measurement of safety in terms of lost time accident
territorial claims –“my area”, “my responsibility”
Separation of safety, quality, environment etc. may lead to
territorial claims and sub-optimization. A good example is the risk identification which is mandatory in the
contractor safety certification process (VCA/SCC) in which I have been involved when setting this up between
1989 and 1994. If you would look at the system today, you will see that the system itself is almost
exclusively focused on lost time injury accidents and the risk identification process as well. The core of
the certification scheme is “control of tasks with increased risks”. But when you look at the risk
identification process which should be the foundation on which to base the VCA/SCC system, you will find
that is directed at uncovering personal injury type of risk. This is at least regrettable as the process
could be used to also find other potential problems that may originate from the same tasks or job. And don’t
forget that this “job safety analysis” (JSA) has been around for decennia. What a lot of wasted
If we would have to do it all over again, maybe we would learn from history and
start thinking in terms of “unwanted events” rather than letting the outcome of the event decide whether this
is for the quality manager or the safety manager or somebody else.
Mind you, we may still get there and maybe one day we will be talking
about the “unwanted event frequency rate” or just “failure rate” referring to failure of the management
system to control the events that we do not want to see.