Quality Management Principle 6

The Introduction section of ISO 9001:2008, Quality management systems – Requirements, notes that the standard was developed based on the eight Quality Management Principles listed below. These principles can be used by top management as a framework to guide their organizations towards improved performance.

1. Customer focus
2. Leadership
3. Involvement of people
4. Process approach
5. System approach to management
6. Continual improvement
7. Factual approach to decision making
8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

The eight principles are briefly defined in ISO 9000:2005, Quality management systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary, and more fully described in Annex B of ISO 9004:2009, Managing for the sustained success of an organization – A quality management approach.

Principle 6: Continual improvement

Continual improvement of the organization’s overall performance should be a permanent objective of the organization.


This quality management principle provides a performance advantage through improved organizational capabilities. It includes an alignment of improvement activities at all levels with the organization’s strategic intent. This focus on continual improvement provides the flexibility to react quickly to opportunities.


Applying the continual improvement principle typically leads to:

  • Employing a consistent organization-wide approach to continual improvement of the organization’s performance
  • Providing people with training in the methods and tools of continual improvement
  • Making continual improvement of products, processes, and systems an objective for every individual in the organization
  • Establishing goals to guide, and measures to track, continual improvement
  • Recognizing and acknowledging improvements.

Three other articles in this June 2013 newsletter address principles 5, 7, and 8. The first four quality management principles were described in the May 2013 newsletter.