What is the meaning of risk-based thinking in ISO 9001?

Are you ready to enhance your quality management approach? Dive into the concept of risk-based thinking in ISO 9001 and learn how it can help your organisation proactively address potential issues and improve overall efficiency.      
What is the meaning of risk-based thinking in ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 wants you to think in this risk-based approach throughout the board, meaning in the business objectives, strategies, processes, systems, and products. So you’ll need to instil a strong concept of risk in your company. There are some ways you can accomplish this with ISO 9001 Certification.

Let’s have a step-by-step look at this systematic approach.

Identifying business risks and taking action

You’ll need to identify the possible risks in your business through management reviews and performance evaluations to make sure you haven’t missed anything. As soon as you find a possible risk, you’ll have to apply risk assessment on every aspect of your business to determine the severity or non-severity of the risk. Then, apply remedial actions to the priority risks first and later address the other risks. Risk assessments usually range from ‘remote’ to ‘very likely’. These ‘very likely’ risks will take priority. Then you can start evaluating if there are any positive sides to the risk and how to exploit these positive aspects. If there aren’t any positive sides, you’ll have to take action to address the risks head-on by applying corrective actions to each scenario. You can either tolerate the risk, treat the risk by addressing it directly, transfer the risk to other companies more equipped to eliminate it, like insurance companies, or terminate the risk by simply removing it.

Turning risk management into risk-based thinking

Risk management is a job description, but risk-based thinking is a habitual way of running the business. The aim is to give management a new set of habits that includes identifying risks, conducting risk assessments, and taking preventative action daily. This will help reduce risks by planning actions that will benefit the company in the future. By incorporating risk management into your daily thinking, the end result will be continual improvement in every aspect of the business. This will ensure that the only management system you have in your company is a quality management system. You should keep a close eye out for risks and keep them organised in a risk register, so nothing gets forgotten or overlooked. You can include ISO guidelines in there as well to make sure you’re on the right path. It’ll be much easier if workers have practised risk management, making it come more naturally and allowing for decisions without a large amount of paperwork. They should also practise their ability to spot opportunities in risks and then take full advantage of these opportunities. Risks are everywhere and some people are natural decision-makers when it comes to possible risks. Others need a little push to become natural decision-makers. That’s why ISO encourages starting from the beginning and working your way up to become a risk-based thinker.


The goal is for management to make better decisions with the information they have. Information should be thoroughly studied, and all options should be on the table. Nothing should get overlooked, not even the possible opportunities from some of these risks. Management should become so accustomed to assessing risks that making decisions becomes quicker and easier for them. They should strive to one day become risk-based thinkers.

Citation Certification is a JAS-ANZ accredited certification body that aims to provide ISO certification globally, with a range of in-house training and support systems to help you on your journey to continual improvement.

Take your business to the next level

What are you interested in?
Your data will be processed inline with our Privacy Policy.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.