From Transactional to Transformational

A Dynamic, Flexible, and Outcomes-Focused Mission

Editor’s Note: In August, Kathie Morgan gave the keynote address at the 67th conference of SES – The Society for Standards Professionals in Nashville, Tennessee. The subject of the conference was “Dynamic Diversity: Expanding the Future of Standardization.” The entire speech, “From Transactional to Transformational,” can be watched on the ASTM International Facebook page. Excerpts are below.


How do we build a strong, long-term foundation for the standardization community? In general, I think the answer is threefold: We must be outcomes-focused. We must be partnership-oriented. And we must be innovation-driven.


First, standards development organizations are shifting from being driven solely by outputs to being focused more on outcomes. ... ASTM International is no longer just a publisher – we’re a problem solver. We’ve grown from being focused solely on developing high-quality, market-relevant standards, to supporting people who have specific outcomes that they want to work with us to achieve. This is a big evolutionary step.


As the demands from our stakeholders become more and more complex — as they have in recent years — the solutions also become more challenging. ... As individual organizations, we can only go so far. A growing number of problems are so big and multifaceted that standards developers must work together as partners to solve them. ... Partnership-oriented approaches are needed in longstanding industries like petroleum, and they are perhaps even more critical for emerging industries [like additive manufacturing and drones].


We as SDOs must be more innovation-driven than ever before. In the past, standards followed innovation. But today, the standards and innovation communities are being pressured to work in tandem in order to ensure the fastest, smoothest path to commercialization. ... Early engagement will lead to a roadmap that integrates both innovation and standardization together. ... The technical quality and market relevance of any standard is directly proportional to the strong participation of entrepreneurs and innovators. ... We need to simply draw more visibility and attention to the strengths of SDOs. ... Many of the organizations in this room have made the investment necessary to keep pace with emerging technologies.

From Transactional to Transformational

If I were to sum it up in one phrase, ... it means moving from transactional to transformational. ... We can and are embracing the fact that all of our activities must become less rigid and siloed, and instead, more dynamic, flexible, and more outcomes-focused. We can and are exploring new roles and new partnerships to ensure that we can meet our respective missions in the years ahead. And we can and are learning from each other about how to support innovation and other major societal developments.




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