Management System Success is Management Success


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My books Success in Safety Improvement Model Management System Success Improvement Process 17-Step Process Improvement Process Rating Management System Structure Management System Content Improving the Management System The Audit Management System Rating International Safety Rating System Accidents and Incidents Accident Investigation Protocol Safety Opinion Survey

STRUCTURE of management system elements - key to SUCCESS

To be effective, a management activity area or "element" of a management system must be properly carried out.


Each of these activity areas must structured to support implementation and improvement of the activities that are part of a management activity area. The assumption is that the activities are essential to obtain the objective(s) of management activity area and the overall management system. The structure of each element includes the improvement wheel - see at the end of this page - as an ongoing process to improve element contribution to the overall management system. In the picture below, I show this by the small circle or wheel that is also part of my logo.



Structure of management system elements is the key to success


The structure of management system elements as outlined below and further detailed in my book has the advantage that each element of the management system has its own objective, activities and improvement loop.


I introduced the concept of separate elements with their own specific objectives in 1993 when I was heading a small international team to develop a process industry version of the ISRS (International Safety Rating System). This concept was not accepted by the company that I was working for at that time. I think, however, that having separate objectives for each element has distinct advantages over not having them and just having one objective for the whole management system:

  1. it will have a much greater influence on the whole organization. Instead of one objective, you may have as many of 10 or 20. So if you would have 15 elements or management activity areas in your management system you will be able to improve the organization in each of these 15 areas.So instead of one objective only - that of the management system - you have an extra 15 objectives and as many improvement areas.
  2. If you have only one objective and not able to get there, it will be hard to determine why not. With 10 or 20 “sub objectives” you will be in a much better position to find the possible causes of not being able to reach the overall system objective.
Structure of Management System Elements


The structure starts with a need assessment, management statement and coordination, then goes to the establishment of the specific activities under the activity area umbrella and ends with assessment of activities, evaluation of results and the periodic review and improvement.


The structure shall be present in each management activity area that is required to reach management system objective(s). If your management system includes activity areas for which this structure is not considered necessary it may indicate that the activity area is not important for the success of the management system.


[1] Need assessment and management statement


Top management communication regarding the reason(s) WHY the element is important and what objectives are expected. Each management activity area shall have its own specific objective(s), different from the objective(s) of the overall management system.


[2] Co-ordination of element activities


Assignment of element coordination to a team consisting people from various levels, depending on the element subject. To be chaired by a person with sufficient authority.


[3] Element standing plan


The element plan should include the activities to reach the element objective(s): WHAT must be done, by WHOM and WHEN. It shall also include training and instruction of people to establish criteria for the development and for the execution of the activities. The element plan should be backed up by (separate) procedures or guidelines describing HOW the activities shall be carried out, including tools and forms to be used. 

[3.1] Review of legislation and standards for minimum requirements


To establish minimum requirements for element activities that are set by legislation, industry standards or applicable certification norms.


[3.2] Additional element activities as required by other sources


Additional element activities required by sources other than mentioned under 3.1.


[3.3] Employee participation in development of element activities


Participation of personnel from relevant levels to develop criteria for execution of the identified element activities. Making use of available expertise and experience and create "emotional ownership" to facilitate implementation of element activities. Element development includes the HOW things need to be done, inlcuding tools, forms and equipment.


The Principle of 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



[3.4] Employee training to develop and execute element activities


To include: (i) development of the element activities, (ii) implementation of element activities, (iii) management of the activities to allow proper stimulation of activity implementation by management and (iv) carrying out assessments of activities and results and the preparation of improvement plans.


[3.5] Employee participation in executing element activities


To include relevant personnel in the implementation/execution of the specific activities as well as in the possible improvement thereof.


[3.6] Communication needs to internal and external parties


Collection and analysis of relevant data for communication to stakeholders and interest groups.


[3.7] Periodic element plan assessments

Periodic assessments to establish whether: (i) element activities are being carried out as intended and (ii) element results obtained as desired


[4] Review and improvement


Periodic review by top management to evaluate activities carried out and results obtained against objectives set. Per element as well as concerning the overall management system.


The Improvement Wheel


The improvement cycle reflected by the suggested element structure is visualized by the "Improvement Wheel" where the standing plan is the axle driven by the engine build around it. The engine is fuelled by management leadership.


The Improvement Wheel: plan moving towards success


The generic structure can be seen as an extension of the Deming circle PDCA (Plan - Do - Check - Act) as well as an application of the Platform Model that I use to demonstrate the main ingredients for success. Both the structure and the improvement wheel contain elements of the 17-step process that I described for management system building and implementation.

Here is an example of the structure of management system elements where the layout a safety management system for high hazardous industry is indicated. Please note that the structure application is adapted to specific elements. Most important is that the evaluation (called "program monitoring") and review/improvement aspects are included in all elements.


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