Letter From America – Ryan Collins – Letter No 1

ryanamericaVer3Waiting in New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport for my flight back to Belfast (which is always a trying experience given the number of delays and cancellations), I pondered my latest trip to the U.S.

Yes, as per usual, I sampled the local cuisine a little too often…. I am a sucker for BBQ ribs. The timing of my departure was also extremely unfortunate, given that I missed out on the world’s largest motor show in Detroit! Maybe next time…….

ryansnowAlthough, I could not help but feel relieved, as I managed to miss the huge snow storm whilst in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They did have a fair amount of snow as this picture will testify too. At this point, I think it is important to mention that in contrast to NI, America does not grind to a halt.

On a more serious note, in my role as an auditor of ISO Management Systems, these visits are always quite refreshing as I see business conducted in a completely different manner than in the UK. People in the UK tend to be worried about the ‘Big Bad Auditor’ and this generally sets the tone for the day. Whereas in the U.S, rather than being greeted by a suited and booted quality/environmental manager.

I am more likely to be greeted by the owner’s dog (quite common in the ‘Mom & Pop’ machine shops of Michigan) or a high-five. Things are much more laid back.

There is a stark contrast to how the Americans conduct themselves during the audit. Call it eccentricity or their outgoing nature, but in my opinion (approx. 100 audits later), it is this very trait that allows them to get more value from their management system than your average UK based company.

In general, everyone from shop floor to the president of the company submerges themselves within their system and makes it the cornerstone for doing their job or running their company. It is not just a manual on a shelf. They genuinely look forward to the auditor’s visit; mostly as validation of all their hard work for maintaining and improving their system.

Taking this into consideration, I cannot help but feel that on this side of the pond, we are missing out on the true benefits of an effective management system. This is something we could learn from the Americans.

I will leave you an irk that I have with my visits to the U.S. I am not sure if I am the only one, but I find it extremely frustrating when I cannot walk from my hotel to the local shops (on the same side of the road, may I add) due to a lack of ‘sidewalks’.

I normally have to walk through car parks, around gas stations, across lawns and busy roads just to walk a few hundred yards up the road! Could an investment in footpath’s help to alleviate the growing levels of obesity in the U.S? I will leave you to ponder!
Ryan Collins
Principal Consultant
New Paradigm Consulting

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