Friday, September 01, 2006

Yesterday wrong about the statement there are few people here from SE England. Allan Willimas is here from London Met. Paper on mobility but I missed it.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day one of the Knowledge Based Economy conference. I am in the library where the web works ok but there is no coffee. Otherwise fine.

Conference has started well. the idea of knowledge is not limited to academic sources. Michael Hulme emphasised personal knowledge and collaborative knowledge creation through blogs and wikis. "The onus of critical judgement is thrown back to the individual."

John Urry commented that the role of the individual is balanced by a dependence on computers and electronic systems with 'a dark and dystopic side of systemic dependencies' liable to catastrophic failure. Not sure if systems will be seen with any encouraging potential but this is only day one.

Some discussion on whether the KBE is centred on London and the south east in the UK. One thing I notice is that the people attending are not from Oxford, Cambridge or London academic sites other than DEMOS. Not sure why this may be.

From the first workshop I discover that 'excellence' and quality are among the top issues in editorial coverage of higher education in the USA. Based on looking at 252 articles in the New York Times, LA Times and Washington Post. So quality could be a topic of interest for academics. The discussion suggested that most of the articles responding to journalists came from individual academics rather than any organised presentation by universities as a group.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I have started a topic on the Prolearn discussion space

forums and polls , then "Engaging SMEs in e-learning"

My paper is a bit off topic for e-learning but a lot could follow. I have put some questions about 'network management learning' at the end. I still don't understand most of what is written but it could be worked through later.

Monday, August 28, 2006

I have printed out copies of the paper for the IAS conference on the Knowledge Based Economy, so that is the final version this week.

PDF version now on the Learn9 site.
Also an open document. Open Office required but I am gradually getting used to it and I think most people should have access to a copy.

The slides PDF just as previously. About 2 meg.

Meanwhile I am trying to update an article on quality for OhmyNews. Previously i did one based on Quality Circles and mentioning ISO 9000 towards the end. I am trying to do another one leading on the latest ISO survey. This continues to show growth in China and slight decline in the UK. It has been suggested I should explain more about the background so this needs working on. Maybe I will get some ideas during the conference.

One problem I can't avoid is that I do not know anything about how ISO 9000 is used in China or an Asian take on quality. The journalism takes the form of asking a question. Maybe later others will send in reports to OhmyNews and the editors will shape something together.

Current version-

Continued growth in China use of ISO 9000
Mixed sector pattern in USA and UK

The ISO survey for 2005 shows continued growth in the use of ISO 9000, a standard for quality assurance and in the environmental standard ISO 14000. The two standards are connected by a common approach to auditing, systems thinking and learning through corrective action and system review. Growth continues strongly in China, where there is now the largest number of ISO 9000 certificates. Growth in the UK has stopped but there is interest in the specialised standard for medical equipment.

China now has 143,823 certificates, up by 10,000 from 2004. The ISO comments that "the strong performance of China, which is again in the top 10 countries for growth in both ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001 certification, and of India, which is again in the top 10 for ISO 9001:2000 growth and enters the top 10 for ISO 14001 growth, is no doubt partly linked to their increasing participation in global supply chains, in export trade and in business process outsourcing."

The standard may be seen as essential for getting onto the list of suppliers for companies that also use ISO 9000. There has not been much research on how the standards are used but given the current scale there are probably sites where the standard is being used creatively.

In the UK the number of certificates is now below 50,000 rather than above as in 2004. There had been a previous dip while companies adjusted to the revised version of the standard in 2000. The standard originally started as a UK standard (BS 5750) so some observers have suggested that the UK decline in use shows there are problems in maintaining the paperwork and that long term benefits may not occur. The 2000 revision calls for involvement by senior management in system review. It is possible that there has been some reluctance around this.

The ISO comments on the rising importance of services in the global economy. "nearly 33 % of ISO 9001:2000 certificates and 31 % of ISO 14001 certificates in 2005 went to organizations in the service sectors. The latter statistic also illustrates that good environmental management is not just for smoke stack industry and that service providers are accepting their social responsibilities in this area."

Japan is way ahead of China on the environmental standard - 23,466 compared to 12,683. The USA has just over 5,000. Japan has other approaches to quality but the support for ISO 14000 suggests that it is possible to use the methods as part of a management approach.

Figures are also published for two specialised standards based on ISO 9000. ISO 16949 covers automative products in the car industry. This replaces previous industry and company standards. In this sector the USA leads with 3,693 compared to 2,151 for China and 2,115 for Germany. The USA also leads on ISO 13485 for medical equipment with 1310 certificates, followed by the UK with 973 and Germany with 824. There has been a view that the USA has had no need to adopt ISO 9000 as quality policies already exist. This may change with the example of automative and medical. At least there will be some sectors with relevant experience.

I am unable to explain the mixed pattern across countries and sectors. There is very little information available on how the standards are used. Other reports for OhmyNews might help to give some background on particular countries or regions. The recent conference on citizen journalism considered 'best practices' so some quality theory could be relevant without getting too lost in ISO language.

There is some evidence on the web that ISO 9000 systems can work alongside quality circles and moves for improvement. Joseph Nebus has reported on a trip to Thailand where he had his first trip in an ISO 9000 certified taxi. He found much publicity for ISO 9000 also in Singapore as well as support for quality circles with 12% of the workforce participating.

By contrast, quality circles have almost disappeared in the UK. David Hutchins recently updated an article on his website originally from 1982, with this explanation-

"In the year 1998 there were reported to be more than 20 million Circles in China and in every country in the Far East. Both Toyota and Honda announced in 2004 that they are going for 100% involvement in Quality Circles in all of their plants worldwide.

Toyota and Honda are both making huge profits in their manufacturing plants in the USA, China is about to enter that market. At the same time, General Motors are reported to have lost $1.5Bn in the first six months of 2004, MG Rover was liquidated and the plant is now owned by the Chinese.
Ford also lost money and Chrysler are currently in deep trouble. Of course it is not all down to Quality Circles, it would be stupid to suggest that it was but they are part of the reason and that is good enough! Why do Toyota and Honda clearly regard the concept to be so important whilst the West completely ignores it? Who is right? ."

My previous report "Quality Control Goes Round in Circles" covered some background to this. One possibility is that the approach to quality circles has a consequence for the suitability of ISO 9000.