This post is authored by Paul Gruhn, president of ISA 2019.
In case you missed it in one of my earlier columns, ISA modified its vision and mission statements last year. I am very proud of these efforts and firmly believe these new statements will more clearly guide us in all that we do. Our vision is to “create a better world through automation.” Our mission is to “advance technical competence by connecting the automation community to achieve operational excellence.”
In addition to the rework of our vision and mission statements, we also created five value statements. While ISA obviously had values for the last 74 years, we never actually had anything in writing. Documenting such beliefs formalizes them for all to see. They will help guide us both as a Society and as individuals.
I thought I would take this opportunity to offer my personal comments on each of our value statements, their importance, and how they impact our Society. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on these values and how best ISA can embody them in all that we do.
“Excellence: We strive to provide industry leading resources and unbiased content developed and vetted by our community of experts.” In order to advance people’s technical competence, we need to produce the materials they both want and need, including standards, books, training courses, and conferences. Our members and volunteers create this material. Experts are documenting their knowledge and lessons learned for the benefit of others—all with the goal of making you and your organization more successful! ISA’s material is non-commercial and vetted by experts. You simply won’t find a better or broader range of material when it comes to instrumentation, automation, and control. And this value needs to be nurtured and supported by all. Each of us has knowledge we can impart back to the Society. I encourage you to find ways to get involved in this.
“Integrity: We act with honesty, integrity, and trust, treating others with respect in all that we do.” I truly believe that the vast majority of our members and staff clearly do act with integrity. There are rare exceptions (as there, unfortunately, are in any organization). However, having such a written statement clarifies the behavior we expect, and the behavior we will not tolerate. We each must hold the other accountable. Integrity is critical to the greatness of our Society.
“Diversity and Inclusion: We strive to be a global, diverse, and welcoming organization.” When ISA was founded in 1945 our name was the “Instrument Society of America.” We changed our name to the International Society of Automation about 10 years ago, even though we have had international members for many decades. It is important that we know our history while also defining our future.
I believe we need to be more inclusive and diverse if we are going to flourish and grow around the world. We need diverse backgrounds and opinions on the Executive Board, within our assemblies, departments, and committees. While this may be uncomfortable for some at times, this is necessary to achieve our objectives and global growth.
“Collaboration: We seek out opportunities to work together for the benefit of the Society, its members, and our profession.” Over a dozen local instrument societies banded together to form ISA in 1945. They knew that together they could accomplish greater objectives through collaboration than any single unit could accomplish on their own. For example, the original declaration of policy listed objectives such as “…to advance the arts and sciences related to the theory, design, manufacture, and use of instruments and controls…, to encourage research…, to foster education…, to advance the standards of science and engineering…, and to promote interaction among its members and with allied technological societies.” Volunteers and staff must work together as a team to benefit the Society, its members, and the overall profession.
“Professionalism: We uphold the highest standards of competence and skill in everything we do.” ISA provides the opportunity to enter the industry as an amateur and increase your level of knowledge and experience. That could include volunteering in some manner at the section or division level and learning teamwork and leadership skills (since no one is born a good leader). At some point in your career, many people wish to give back, whether it be in writing a textbook, creating a training class, or participating in a standards committee. We hold the ISA bar rather high and expect the best from our volunteers and leaders.
I stand behind each of ISA’s values. But it isn’t enough to just say them; we need to live them in everything that we do.
About the Author
Paul Gruhn is a global functional safety consultant at AE Solutions and a highly respected and awarded safety expert in the industrial automation and control field. Paul is an ISA Fellow, a member of the ISA84 standards committee (on safety instrumented systems), a developer and instructor of ISA courses on safety systems, and the primary author of the ISA book Safety Instrumented Systems: Design, Analysis, and Justification. He also has contributed to several automation industry book chapters and has written more than two dozen technical articles. He developed the first commercial safety system modeling software. Paul is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in Texas, a certified functional safety expert (CFSE), a member of the control system engineer PE exam team, and an ISA84 expert. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Paul is the 2018 ISA president-elect/secretary.