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The Case for Quality in the New Frontier of Commercial Marijuana

The future is looking bright for the commercial marijuana industry. The Herald is full of stories about people who are now set for retirement after investing in marijuana producers at just the right time. Demand for medicinal marijuana is increasing at 10% per month. Not to mention the impending explosion of recreational pot smokers, estimated to be between 3.5 to 5 million people, once it is legalized by the Liberals. Just 3 weeks ago at the swanky Le Germain hotel in downt

Managing Change: Red Tape or the Next Quality Frontier?

In my first job out of school at a chemical process plant, I was assigned the task of determining why a tank of Dowtherm would periodically empty itself. After investigating, I discovered the outlet valves were not configured properly. I flagged down an instrument technician and we made the changes to the valve controls, and the problem was solved. I was very proud of myself, but my boss was horrified. We had completely bypassed the "Management Of Change" (MOC) procedure,

Storing Customer Documentation

One of my clients recently asked me if all customer documentation should be considered "documents of external origin", as defined in section of ISO 9001:2015. I find this element of ISO 9001:2015 is often misunderstood. Here's a great article by Denise Robitaille that helps to clarify what is meant by "document of external origin". Typically, any documentation provided by customers would fall

How to Ruin a Customer Feedback Survey in Just One Move

A recent article in Macleans described the frustration of Syrian refugee sponsors, waiting to hear back from the government about the status of their application. “It’s a little bit of a slap in the face,” says Renee Field of Halifax, who is part of a private group that applied to sponsor a husband, wife and their three-year-old son, only to be told it could now take up to eight months to process their paperwork in Turkey. “We were all floored,” she said. “The government ask

Missing Maintenance Records Lets Drunk Drivers Go Free

A recent article in the Calgary Herald described how prosecutors had to stay charges against Alberta motorists accused of driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit of .08 due to missing maintenance records for breathalyzers. Apparently, the company contracted to do maintenance on the breathayzers, Davtech, did not keep records of their service history. A quick look through the Davtech website revealed that they do not claim to be ISO 9001 certified. However, they did have

How ISO 9001 Could Have Saved Target Canada

A great article came out in last week's edition of Canadian Business titled "The Last Days of Target: The untold tale of Target Canada's difficult birth, tough life and brutal death." by Joe Castaldo. It's a fascinating tale of how Target overcommitted and underperformed their way through 7 billion dollars in 4 years. Just as important is the impact on the 17000 people in Canada who were, at one time or another, employed by Target. Employees were described as weary and fru

Document or Record? Does it Matter?

One of my clients recently asked me "What's the difference between a document and a record?" I gave him my understanding of the difference between the two, but it got me thinking. Can a document also be a record? Can a record turn into a document? Does it matter? Why am I even thinking about this? Where's the remote? But my mind keeps revisiting it, like that good night song from the Lawrence Welk show. So I thought I would take a look at the ISO 9001 standard to better

New Year's Resolutions (Part 2)

We are three weeks into the new year. How are you doing with your resolutions? Have your new habits become as smooth as a well-oiled machine? Or are you grinding to a halt? I've heard it said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit - so three weeks often marks an inflection point with our new intentions. The new activities aren't so new anymore, and may be losing their novelty. Getting up at 5:30 AM to go to the gym might seem like more of a hassle than a good idea. S

New Year's Resolutions

About this time of year, a lot of us start thinking about setting some objectives for the new year. You know, losing weight, reading more, or quitting bad habits. Sometimes we achieve these objectives, and sometimes they are swept into the dustbin with the new year's eve confetti. What can we do to help us succeed on this quest for improvement? After all, if these objectives are important enough for us to articulate, surely they are worth working towards, as well. The ne

Where's My Pickle?

One of my favorite places for a quick lunch downtown is a cafe called Boopy's (not the real name). I always order the same lunch combo - a half panini with a bowl of soup. Then I sit down to wait for my order. And I start wondering if today there'll be a pickle. Sometimes I get a pickle, sometimes, no pickle. Today, I got a pickle, a cherry tomato AND a jalapeno! It nearly blew my mind. So what's behind the great pickle variability? Do they sometimes run out? Does it de

The Importance of Appreciation

I just finished an audit of a small oil & gas service and manufacturing company this week. As I sat down to interview the engineering and field service teams, I could sense a little apprehension about the discussion that was about to take place. Maybe they were thinking along the lines of: "What will she think of us?" or "Will we measure up?". In the end, I was very impressed with their processes, their technology, and their customer focus. Of course, there were some thin

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