Maybe you don't like having Groupe Michelin as a rival. Too competitive, too innovative, definitely too secretive. But you can't claim The Boss, Francois Michelin, pulls his punches.
The Michelin chairman recently waxed poetic about that sacred icon of manufacturing, ISO 9000, after speaking at the International Rubber Conference in Paris. Since Michelin is held as a paragon of quality—a perception consumers, at the minimum, subscribe to—when Francois Michelin talks about quality assurance, people should listen.
He said aloud what many in the industry only whisper: ISO 9000 is ``a catastrophe which breeds passivity.'' ISO 9000 leaves no room for new development, creating a mentality, he said, of ```I have applied the standard so all is OK; I have filled in the charts and made graphs.'''
Francois Michelin derided ISO 9000 in comparison to his company's philosophy about innovation. The French tire maker promotes open-mindedness, even non-conformity, in research—the opposite of ISO 9000, which demands conformity.
Francois Michelin's complaints bring to mind an interesting dilemma for the tire and rubber industry.
Manufacturers that supply automotive products have little choice but to embrace ISO 9000 if they want the auto makers' business. Indeed, it was the automotive customers that demanded the institution of ISO 9000. Yet the Fords, General Motors, Chryslers and Hondas of the world ``tweak'' ISO 9000 standards a bit to suit their own needs.
That makes the entire ISO 9000 exercise in conformity somewhat specious.