ISA Interchange

Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

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The New Normal

“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” - Dave Hollis, author and coach

I just took my first flight in 16 months. Just a short trip from Houston to Orlando, but enough to realize all I had neglected to remember about travel—like the parking, the security lines, etc. Thankfully, my packing skills were still on point, and I remembered everything I needed.

All this is to say that there is a sense of returning to normal in some countries. And while there are still some outbreaks and lockdowns around the world, there is a growing sense of hope that this return to normal will be global. When it does finally happen, I do believe our normal will look different. Some companies may return to offices, but only for 2-3 days per week. Some may not ever return to the office. PwC found remote work so successful that it is now a permanent option for their staff. Of course, not every function can be done from home. Projects like mine involve extended periods on-site and offshore. I do not see this entirely changing, but the use of technology has provided opportunities to reduce the number of people who need to be on-site.

ISA, like all organizations, is also working through what the new normal means. We have found great interest in our virtual events, webinars, and Connect Live sessions hosted by Divisions. At the virtual Analysis event in March, attendance was up 40% from the in-person equivalent, 54% of the attendees were non-members and 53% of the attendees were from outside North America. Successes like this need to be considered in the shaping of our new normal. I have previously mentioned how our training and certification programs quickly transitioned to online. Our offer for members to sign up for the first Certified Automation Professional online learning module was so oversubscribed, we had to stop registrations after just one hour.

Last month we achieved another first, having a Connect Live session with the three 2023 presidential candidates. This event gave the membership a chance to hear directly from their candidates just before voting opened. If you missed the session, you can watch the recording. And please, login and cast your ballot for your next ISA leaders. Voting closes on 30 June.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts or comments. I would love to know what you are most excited about as the world reopens and what you hope we learned during this time that to which we should hold tight.

Let’s take heed of Dave Hollis’ comment and consider which parts of returning to normal are worth the rush. We must capitalize on this opportunity (hopefully a once in a lifetime opportunity) to change how we work and interact for the better. Together, as a global membership, we are creating a better world through automation.

Read more: "Why is Change Management Important to Automation and Cybersecurity?"

Steve Mustard
Steve Mustard
Steve Mustard is an independent automation consultant and a subject matter expert of the International Society of Automation (ISA). Backed by more than 30 years of engineering experience, Mustard specializes in the development and management of real-time embedded equipment and automation systems. He serves as president of National Automation, Inc., and served as the 2021 president of ISA. Mustard is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas and Kansas, a UK registered Chartered Engineer, a European registered Eur Ing, an ISA Certified Automation Professional (CAP), a certified Global Industrial Cybersecurity Professional (GICSP), and a Certified Mission Critical Professional. He also is a Fellow in the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), a Senior Member of ISA, a member of the Safety and Security Committee of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and a member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

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