By definition, management review is a formal meeting of top management with the purpose of reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of the quality management system. Yes, I know, it sounds like another humdrum status report meeting. And unfortunately, that is the way it is viewed and conducted by many organizations. Management review is too often regarded as something to check off the list in order to satisfy a standard or an auditor. I must admit, when I first started holding management reviews, I shared that view. I would diligently set my agenda to include all of the required items; then I would simply steamroll through them. I’d write my report, file it away, and then proudly present it to the next auditor to examine. As a result, nothing was really gained and much valuable time was lost.
Through the years I have gained a healthy respect for the value of the management review process. However, value can only be gained if the approach is correct and the goal is to improve the organization. It is important to keep in mind that the management review process is not intended to be a time for finger-pointing or show-boating. It should be approached with neutrality, in an un-biased manner. The intention is to not only look at individual parts (i.e. CARs, PARs, audits, complaints, etc.), but to also look at the big picture. That said, management reviews should be more than a comprehensive look-back, more importantly, they should be a strategic look-ahead.
In my opinion, one of the most important management review topics relates to quality objectives. Although a topic for another blog, quality objectives should be mindfully and strategically established in order to adequately represent the true goals of the company from all levels of the organization. Quality objectives must have defined metrics designed to quickly identify the emergence of real or potential quality issues. During the management review process, the objectives should not only be thoroughly reviewed to determine if metrics have been met, but more importantly, they should be examined and dissected to determine if they continue to be appropriate and are in alignment with the overall goals of the organization. During management review, take the time to determine if the objectives need to be adjusted or changed. This should be one of the most important outputs of the meetings.
In conclusion, a management review should not be viewed as a mind-numbing quality meeting with the sole purpose of reviewing a laundry list of items required by a standard. Instead, use the time to scrutinize and expose the quality management system. Pose questions that really challenge the organization in order to determine effectiveness of the quality management system. Discuss the good, the bad and the ugly. Embrace the process and make it a robust and meaningful review. Design your review to collectively and comprehensively focus on the business as a whole. Look at the parts. Look at the big picture. Look ahead. And determine action needed for improvement.