Updated: Feb 5, 2021
In this video, Peter Rogers from Mango Global discusses Context of the Organisation as part of the Compliance Conversation series.
We have gathered compliance consultants from around the world to give some insights into the ISO requirement, clause 4 "Context of the Organisation".
The question we answer in this conversation is "How do you ensure the context is known and understood throughout your organisation? Check out the video here:
Michael, Momentum Safety and Ergonomics
Some companies that you go to get that tick on the first part of the ISO clause and they'll have it written down. It will probably be in their manual, and maybe in some registers, but it doesn't go much further than that.
The challenge is always making this stuff actually matter. If you want to make it actually matter, it has to spread through a bit more than the manager's office.
Why not bring it up in toolbox talks, and those sorts of things?
Challenge the guys and say, "Okay, what could go wrong here? What are some other opportunities for us to improve in the areas of quality, health and safety?" and those sorts of areas, which do have this context causing them.
Talks, team meetings, safety committee meetings, those sorts of things are a great opportunity.
Jodie, Penarth Management, United Kingdom
The best way to ensure that the context is understood throughout the organisation is to make sure that it's communicated through information awareness and training.
Andrew, Integrated Risk Management, Australia
Your current communication consultation mechanisms, are really going to be a key strategy here. They are a key tool that you can use to ensure that people across your organisation at all levels, understand the context of your organisation.
In plain English, those internal and external issues that could impact on your intended performance, as well as the expectations of stakeholders. That's good practice.
I have seen not so good practice and, as an organisation, you won't get as much value out of it, if you simply, as a compliance team, identify the context, stick it in a register, and not communicate about it so that this step is really important.
John, Many Caps, New Zealand
Once you've figured out your context of the organisation, you obviously want to make sure that everybody knows about it, and that's about getting people involved in developing it.
Workshops are really good to get the input, put all together, and when you finish, publish it and tell people about it. That might be at town hall meeting, that might be one-on-ones as you go through people's reviews. It could be any number of ways. But you want to talk about it and talk about it often. Don't do it just once and then forget about it, you want to keep referring back to it.
As you do your quarterly reviews, look at your context and make sure it's still valid, and then communicate that back out.
Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it is what we have to do.
Ben, Total Management and Training, Australia
The normal consultation process, which would have happened in the previous step when we're identifying those issues, and also those stakeholders.
One thing to remember is that the context should be ingrained into the system. People may not be able to explain it directly, but the fact that they can explain the system and what they're doing and following those processes and procedures, to me, more than shows that they actually understand the context and how they're going to operate within that particular system itself.
Nicholas, SRM, South Africa
Well, if we're using a variety of different tools and techniques to be able to define the context, such as the discovery register, or various different prompter registers that we use with our clients, those can be utilised to create awareness within the organisation for who we are, where we are, and what we do.
That could be incorporated into induction presentations for visitors, contractors, and your own employees.
But it's a key element for all workers to be able to understand the WHO, the WHERE, the WHAT, the WHY, and the HOW, of the business as part of that identifying and understanding the context of the organisation.
Chris, FQM, United Kingdom
I'm not overly convinced that using the terminology of passing information of the context, organisation throughout the business, is actually a requirement.
I think it's absolutely clear that people need to know what the business is about. People need to understand the impact that can happen with our internal issues, or external issues.
People need to know, within their part of the business, what impact they may have on the context and what the context is. But I would go back to simple terms, and maybe not use that terminology per se within the business.
When you're dealing with warehouse operatives, that are maybe bringing in product from external suppliers, explaining to them about the context and explaining our SWOT analysis might not be the right audience to do that with. I would probably make it much simpler to just explain to them how important the role is in ensuring that the business runs as smoothly as possible, and that some of the weaknesses that there could be in the area that they worked in and ensuring the parts arrive on time and ensuring there is no damage, etc.
I think it's important to recognize that the terminology around the context of the organisation as a whole, should be known throughout management, supervisor, Director level. But I think when you get down to boots on the ground people, I’m not overly convinced that they need to know that full organisational structure of the context.
Mark, Business Basics, Australia
To ensure that your context is known throughout the organisation, you should toolbox this with your teams in things like town halls, and regularly talk about why decisions that have been made within the business have been made and how that relates to the context.
If it doesn't relate to the context, the question is, why are you doing it?
Most people in the world are more than happy to do just about anything, as long as they understand the why not just the what.
Why are we going in starting at four o'clock in the morning?
We're doing that because the kinds of clients we want start work at six, so we need to be ready for them.
Those sorts of things tell the people the why behind the what.
Communicate it, talk about it, talk about it, talk about it.
Determine whether you need to communicate it at all.
Then if you do need to communicate it, then talk about it, talk about it, talk about it.
Make it a part of the toolbox talks, team talks, townhall meetings etc.
Review the context quarterly to ensure its still relevant and communicate that out.