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Turtles are Killing Quality Systems!

Discussion in 'ISO 9001:2015 - Quality Management Systems' started by Andy Nichols, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Once again, I have encountered an organization where the Quality Manager decided (often alone) to use the infamous "Turtle" diagram to document their processes. A number of individual "Turtles" with the various boxes duly completed - "job done" was the thought. After all, it's what the auditor is expecting to see and to meet ISO requirements we have to document our process (measurements etc).

    Having checked with the leadership team, it's no surprize (to me at least) to discover, they can't actually describe the use of the "Turtle". As a tool for a process owner it's useless. Furthermore, it's NOT what ISO 9001 really requires. The "system" referred to is a number of process which interact - something the use of "Turtles" totally fails at defining.

    Subsequently, when the leadership team begin mapping their processes of the organization, the way the organization actually operates, from receipt of a request for quote etc, to shipping product to the customer, it becomes very apparent that they have significant operational issues which relate to the "sequence and interaction" of their processes. The use of the "Turtle" did not reveal this.

    I'm sure that some CB auditors needed "Turtles" because their audits were focused on (individual) elements of the standard, but time and time again, the use of Turtles as a means to document a Quality System have shown them to be very ineffective. Process mapping reveals far more useful information about effectiveness which is what leadership are interested in, not passing an audit!
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  2. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know. We used turtles but modified them to link them together. You could then lay them out on the conference table and create a basic process map. Then supplementing them with individual flowcharted processes/procedures seemed to work pretty well.
     
  3. yodon

    yodon Well-Known Member

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    Kind of siding with Golfman here; a turtle is a tool. All tools have their place and all tools can be improperly used. This is kind of like saying FMEAs are killing risk management (ok, that might start a separate firestorm). It IS unfortunate that auditors tend to prefer this and press for it, though; and far too often, the company does, indeed, just check the box thinking it's done. This is as much a reflection of the company and the Quality personnel as anything. (How many posts have started "I'm new to quality and have been assigned as <quality leader>..."?)
     
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  4. normzone

    normzone Well-Known Member

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    [yodon], (How many posts have started "I'm new to quality and have been assigned as <quality leader>..."?) is in itself food for a thread firestorm :)

    I feel for those who have this role thrust upon them - Those of us who chose to wander into this field (raise my hand, look around) at least can point to some decision that made it seem like a good idea at the time ;-)
     
  5. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    I use the turtle diagram as a visual aid to train internal auditors. I use SIPOC to demonstrate interrelation of processes.
     
  6. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Using turtles is no better than writing procedures, like the older version of ISO 9001 required. The result is that individual processes are all that is considered and you end up with "silos" just like writing individual procedures. This is why ISO 9001 went to a "process approach" but all the turtles have done is drag the whole use of the quality management system back into the 1980s by only considering documenting specific process(es). I have yet to see anyone make a good job and, even though turtles we supposed to get CB auditors to think/audit processes, they haven't accomplished that. The best place for turtles is in the swamp...
     
  7. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    I can appreciate the wish to move toward process mapping. It is more advanced and better represents the sequence and interactions, identification of which is required but still poorly understood.

    I would stop short of saying turtles are killing quality systems though. Siloed thinking is, absolutely, and ignorance that throws up a wall which makes even the simple concept of turtles hard for managers to understand. I think turtles are the scapegoat here. I believe they are a symptom, not a cause. Indeed turtles have a valid place; the problem is that people stop with the turtle. Thinking "I am done now, yay!" they fail to contemplate all of these inputs and outputs represent internal customers who rely on each other for success.

    My fondest wish is for all MBA programs to include process mapping, balanced scorecard and the other subjects that help break down these silos.
     
  8. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Symptom or not, the reasons for the introduction are not going to change - time has gone on too long for that to be influenced. I'm not even sure they have a valid place! However, I cannot out of professional commitment, stand by without informing people that they are not the correct tool for the job - even if (some) auditors accept them!
     
  9. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    They may not be the best tool. But can work in certain situations. Like using a butter knife as a screwdriver in a pinch.
     
  10. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    I've yet to see that... I visit many different organizations in the course of my work and from what I've seen, all that these odious diagrams have done is satisfy an auditor. If that's the aim (and result) may the Quality Lords have mercy on us.
     
  11. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    Auditors accept them because they show evidence that process owners understand what is involved in their process. Accrediting bodies, as part of the International Accreditation Forum that is tasked with verifying conformance on behalf of ISO, condone this and registrars too. Auditors are not acting in isolation.

    I deal with a lot of less-mature firms, for which the turtle approach is progress, especially for internal auditing. We would all love to see our clients advance to the point of accurate process mapping (which the standard does not require, as the two words do not appear together in any of the standards I work with) but almost all of my clients struggle to visualize the interactions. They could use your help. By all means, go forth and do so. But please recognize that turtles are just a tool. If there is a single root-cause culprit here, I would say it is myopic thinking.
     
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  12. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    There's the rub. Are they done purely to satisfy the auditor? Even if that is so, does the exercise help them to understand the parts of a process?

    I am guessing you are further educating them so their outputs are not odious. :)
     
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  13. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    Management desperately needs skills building in whole-system perspective. Total Quality tried but has since been dismissed as ice cream flavor of the month. I recognize an attempt to bring it back in ISO 9001:2015.

    But people crawl before they walk, and walk before they run. They need your help to understand that turtles are just one tool - they need to grasp and operate on the principle that they are handling a system.
     
  14. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Of course they are - and a corrupted one, at that. Phil Crosby never intended his Process Model worksheet to be stripped down (so no-one had to pay royalties I suspect), especially not as an auditor's tool. For the most part, they are done to please auditors! As soon as the IATF launched them in the CB community (as has happened in the AS91XX world, too) organizations rushed to adopt them (often by just the MR). I've yet to hear from any process owner who understands turtles.
    and I don't believe this is true, at all. All it shows is someone filled out a form.
     
  15. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    If turtles are done to please auditors, don't blame the tool. Look at the motivation, look to leadership and ask yourself why they stop with this snapshot. If you want to build awareness, by all means do so. My role limits my ability to do that. Our places in this are very different.

    I very much respect Phil Crosby, but don't use his principles and teachings to limit my viewpoints while auditing. I can't.
    I suppose you spend more time with industry clients than I do, not quite sure though as I audit 140-150 days each year. I can only offer that most of my clients do understand what their turtle diagrams say. We must be working with different groups.
     
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  16. normzone

    normzone Well-Known Member

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    The Quality Lords will show no mercy - they use the Sithrak model.

    Caution: While the link is safe for work, much of the rest of the body of work is not.

    https://oglaf.com/sithrak/
     
  17. tony s

    tony s Well-Known Member

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    I don't use turtle diagrams for documenting the processes. But I find it useful as a visual guide for internal auditors in determining the audit criteria they need to look into for every process. I use it when I train new internal auditors. My turtle is generic and it looks like this:

    upload_2017-10-31_13-0-4.png
     

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