The editorial in the May 31 issue implores us not to stifle innovation as we remove the root causes of the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport concourse collapse (ENR 5/31 p. 56). The root causes exist in our systems of "processes and procedures" for ensuring that the "millions of details mesh on our projects." The public cannot rely on our collective individual memories to prevent recurrence of such disasters. 

As designers and builders further explore the wild side of design with short-er timeframes and smaller budgets they must institutionalize their learning within their companies and projects. They must continually improve their process-based management systems for effective organizational learning so the root causes of such disasters are eliminated. Unfortunately, systems receive little attention in owner organizations and the industry’s firms of project managers, designers and constructors. Too many projects completely ignore or ineffectively use and improve their process-based manage ment systems to assure quality while adding value faster and preventing loss sooner. 

ISO 9001 specifies the use of process-based management systems to eliminate the root causes of waste and ineffectiveness from the many interacting processes within the modern construction project.  This standard is the American National Standard for quality management systems. The design and construction division of the American Society for Quality publishes and maintains ISO 9001 Interpretive Guide for the Design and Construction Project Team. It explains how the owner, project manager, designer and constructors interpret the standard to more effectively interconnect, use and improve their parts to their organizational and project management systems.

All design and construction disasters can be traced back to deficiencies in their realization systems. For example, Peter Reina’s excellent factual report from France indicates several possible root causes related to the system’s failure to conform to clauses in ISO 9001. These may include its failure to validate the concourse column designs and column construction processes in accordance with clauses 7.3.6 and 7.5.2 of ISO 9001:2000.