||Next Year's Car
A standard is more than a technical document. Its an approach,
a method, a concept, a design. Its inspiration, experience. Its
an idea. Every day, ASTM people are developing ideas to make products
safer, better, and more competitive. And in companies everywhere,
there are people dedicated to selling those products. Theyre
developing strategies for promotion, for distribution, to tear
down barriers to trade, to gain advantage over competitors.
Companies today are competing for shares of the greatest, most
enticing market in history. They have to work with many governments,
use all the resources at their command to open markets, remove
restrictions, and avoid duplicative costs. They are engaged at
every level of trade, in every arena where competition exists,
to win the battle for the great global market.
Global companies and the governments they deal with know that
competition between standards, between ideas, is a part of trade.
Why is it, then, that some lose this battle by forfeit? Why shouldnt
a society that is dedicated to success in the marketplace apply
the same commitment to promoting its standards that it does to
promoting its products?
Standards are valuable resources in which great amounts of time
and money are invested. Shouldnt resources like this, especially
ones in which industries are so invested, be marketed? Some societies
have grasped this concept, and made it policy. Theyve learned
that exporting ideas (i.e., standards) that determine which products
will be accepted, which material will build the bridges, the roads,
and the houses, brings handsome profits. They sell their ideas
hard, for they know that like next years car, the customer will
buy the idea of the car, even before it comes on the market. The
standard as an idea is a powerful inducement to trade, a promise
of things to come. The promise may be safety, it may be quality,
or it may be acceptance in the marketplace.
A man once said, If a man can write a better book, preach a better
sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he
builds his house in the woods the world will make a beaten path
to his door.  This man obviously did not live in the information
age, or have to sell in a global market. Anyone who develops a
better idea today knows that it has to be sold.
Because its part of the package. Because every time an idea is
relinquished, given up or given away, another one will take its
place in the market. And thats the one that will sell next years
1 Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson (in a lecture) by Sarah S.
B. Yule and Mary S. Keene, Borrowings 1889.
Copyright 2001, ASTM