Archive for October, 2011

Users need manuals they understand

October 6, 2011

Generally, people do not read their quality manuals. This is not new. IT has realized this for years with their helpdesk’s less than helpful responses “have you read the manual” or “have you rebooted your computer yet”.

Some quality manuals are full of many turgid policies. So, does the failure to read and understand the quality manual reveal a lack of interest? More likely experts write their manuals without total regard for the readers.

Many experts rewrite the system standard. This fails to respect copyright even as we try to protect our own property. It is not a manual that meets the needs of its readers.

Instead, write your manual so it explains how your management system works to:

A. Convert the needs of customers into cash in the bank;
B. Manage opportunity and risk (add value while preventing loss); and
C. Continually improve performance.

Use the present tense to reflect reality and rewrite for Grade 8 readability. Just like the Wall Street Journal (and this post).

You may include the one policy statement as an exhibit. Write just one for quality, health and safety, security and sustainability.

Then train the leaders to explain to the employees the benefits of their management system. Help the leaders understand its obligations on the leaders and on the employees. Help them to explain the benefits of using the management system. Help them to develop their presentation, handouts and any other materials. Help them to plan and deliver the employee awareness campaign.

You want to make your manual friendly to auditors? Include a conformity matrix as an exhibit for each management system standard. Competent auditors do not need a rewrite of the system standard.

Write your system manuals to enthuse the leaders and employees. Encourage them to understand, use and improve their management system.