Some days are better than others. There are days when we leave work feeling tired but gratified, knowing we did a good job, and glad we're engaged in something that benefits our society and friends. And then there are those other days, days when we know our efforts have been exceptional, days when we've stretched our skills and energies far beyond the norm. At ASTM there are a lot of days like that, and I want to thank our Board of Directors, our members, and the ASTM staff for every one of them.
We're headed for a new millennium, and it feels like we're picking up speed as we go. We've got a fast pace to keep and we've got to be flexible, responsive, and responsible to the people who need standards. Their needs are changing, and we must change to meet them, if we are to be "aligned," as Deere and Company Executive Robert Noth said in his article in last month's SN (see "In My Opinion," October SN, page 26). If we don't do this and don't do it well, nothing else we do will matter.
This will take effort-exceptional, extra-ordinary effort. We will have to learn what's new about our customers, and the latest changes that have taken place in their worldviews. We will have to know more about what they want from their standards development process. When our customers are corporate leaders who depend on standards to win markets, we will have to know where they are going, and what it will take for ASTM to get them there. And yes, if our customers are dissatisfied, we will have to know what it is that makes them dissatisfied. And then we're going to have to respond. We're going to have to get aligned.
Getting more knowledgeable about our customers and our potential customers is at the top of our agenda for the new millennium. We're going to start asking more questions. We're going to ask better questions. We are going to ask people in our ASTM family and people beyond our ASTM family. We're going to ask who makes today's decisions, what are today's goals, what are tomorrow's goals, how can we serve them or serve them better, and what is it they want to happen in the new millennium. We're going to make the effort exceptional and we're going to reach beyond our grasp. We're going to gather all the information we can, and we're going to use every resource available to us. We're going to make this exceptional effort because we're serious about knowing the people who need standards.
We must be more than just an adjunct to our customers. We've got to share their expectations, and be a partner and ally in the achievement of their objectives. We've got to be part of a company's strategy to produce a safe, quality product and get it to market rapidly. We must be part of a government agency's mission to procure wisely, or to regulate effectively. We cannot operate in a universe that is different from those we serve. The people who need standards are moving on, and we've got to move on with them. They know what they want, and they're right.
James A. Thomas
President, ASTM International
Copyright 1999, ASTM International