Managing an Organization for Sustained Success

ISO 9004 has been in use as a guidance document since 1987. It was used for different purposes each time it was updated in conjunction with ISO 9001 - Quality Management System. In 2009, ISO 9004 was rewritten to combine the use of quality management and excellence models (i.e. Malcolm Baldridge Award Program) to achieve sustained success by providing connections between quality management and excellence models. In 2018, ISO 9004 took on a more important role of enabling an organization to achieve sustained success by implementing all management systems that can support their efforts to meet the needs and expectations of its stakeholders. It did this by showing that all management systems can be integrated into a single system that seeks to achieve quality at the organization rather than just the interests of customers. Sustained success is needed to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders, not just the customers.

In some earlier blogs, I have pointed out the ability to integrate environmental management, health & safety, energy management, and social responsibility. I mentioned the use of ISO Guide 82: sustainability to deliver a sense of harmony between these standards. Now, by integrating ISO 9001:2018, the organization can develop a self-assessment tool (i.e. maturity matrix) to review the extent to which it has fully adopted the concepts of the integrated management system program. Success is defined as achievement of an objective. Sustained success is defined as the result of the ability of an organization to achieve and maintain its organizational objectives long term. To achieve sustained success, the organization should go beyond the conditions of the management systems that are used and focus on anticipating and meeting the interests of its stakeholders, and not just those of its customers alone, with the intent of enhancing their satisfaction and overall experience.

The new focus of the international management systems is to provide the organization with a sense of unity of purpose. This is a positive, powerful effect of creating meaningful work for individuals and organizations with a mission and sense of direction for the organization. Unity includes organizational strategy, mission statement, company values, and the organization’s short- and long-term objectives. Leaders need to create and maintain a culture of unity. Employees need for fulfillment is paramount in building unity within an organization. Purpose and value are the foundation of unity and sustained success.

The self-assessment tool (i.e. maturity matrix) contained in ISO 9004:2018 provides a framework for improvement. It can be used to review the extent to which the organization has adopted the concepts in the integrated sustainability management system standard. The first step is to determine the context of the organization, which includes three factors:

  1. External factors with opportunities and threats

  2. Internal factors with opportunities and threats

  3. Interests of the stakeholders for each item above

Based on this information, the top leader must determine and enhance the organization’s mission, vision, values, and culture. The following step is to determine and deploy the organization’s code of conduct, mission, vision, values, and culture.

The next step is to determine and deploy the organization’s strategy and objectives. To achieve the objectives, the top leader must ensure that the right processes are in place, properly interrelated with all resources allocated and aligned to the intentions and objectives of the strategy. This is beginning to sound a lot more like organizational sustainability than stand-alone ISO management systems and their counterpart, “stand-alone” sustainability. We now have the tools to create an organizational management system that addresses organizational sustainability needs. In addition we have the outline for the sustained success that will get an organization to where it needs to be in organizational sustainability and sustainable development.

Presented By:

Robert B. Pojasek,


Chairman, Education and Research Executive Board (EREB)

Managing Director

Center for Corporate Performance & Sustainability

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