improved-complianceISO 27500 is one of the more recent standards developed by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) for implementation in the UK by British Standards Institute (BSI) or its equivalents. It joins the existing plethora of ISO standards which include ISO 9001 for Quality Management, ISO 14001 for Environmental Management, IS0 45001 (next year) for Safety Management, ISO 27001 for Information Security Management, and ISO 50001 for Energy Management, to name but a few.

Sadly, like many of its brethren it is too easy to misapply and misunderstand the true benefits of this standard. All standards irrespective of their discipline should be a means of imbedding aspects of an organisations culture and values into its daily activities, but not creating the original culture or changes to it. This must take place before the standard is adopted, at the instigation of the organisation’s leadership team. All too often standards are never fully adopted, never fully implemented, and add no value to it beyond the addition of a new logo to company documentation.

Organisation culture and values are managed, changed and controlled by leadership teams, and not by generically written ISO standards. At best these can only enforce a way of doing things, and not create or change ways of doing things once the accrediting body has left site. The desire to change permanently is cultural, and can only be initiated by competent and motivated leadership.

I therefore have reservations about ISO 27500 being implemented in organisations which are not already shown to be ‘Human Centred’ in their ways of working, with all their stakeholders and particularly their people.

Interestingly, the standard identifies seven pillars which characterize being human centred: accessibility to business objectives; an ability to capitalise on individual differences; the adoption of a systems approach; safety and wellbeing being a business priority; valuing employees and creating a meaningful work environment; being open and trustworthy; and acting in socially responsible ways.

More details about ISO27500 are at http://www.ioshmagazine.com/article/human-after-all , and if you would like to discuss any other aspect of developing a human centred organisation please do not hesitate to contact me.

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