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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What Is Your Executive Board Doing for You?

In mid-September, your incoming 2020 Executive Board met for two and a half days in Raleigh, NC. This summit meeting consisted of board orientation training, strategy and visioning discussions and planning, a third-party review of our operational documents, updates on our finances and IT/web infrastructure; all with a bit of socializing and fun thrown in. The majority of the 2020 board are members of the 2019 board, and some were also members of the 2018 board. Such continuity is helpful and beneficial. Yet I realize many members and volunteer leaders may be wondering, “What are you doing for us?” Let me take this opportunity to tell you!

Two years ago, the 2018 board saw the need to update our vision and mission statements at the summit meeting. I hope you are familiar with these two high-level statements by now. 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.” Everything your board has been doing for the last two years, and all that we are planning, have been with these statements in mind. And they are all intended to benefit you!


Your 2019 board has been taking this commitment seriously. Since the beginning of the year, we have been meeting for three hours every month to discuss strategic issues. In a previous post, I summarized four high-level objectives that the Executive Board and other volunteer leaders solidified during previous leader meetings. These are:

  1. Establish and advance ISA’s relevance and credibility as the home of automation by anticipating industry needs, collaborating with stakeholders, and developing and delivering pertinent technical content.
  2. Enhance member value and expand engagement opportunities to nurture and grow a more diverse and global community to advance the automation profession.
  3. Become the recognized leader in automation and control education, providing training, certifications, and publications to prepare the workforce to address technology changes and industry challenges in the most flexible and relevant
  4. Create opportunities for members to improve critical leadership skills, to build a network of industry professionals, and to develop the next generation of automation professionals.

The board formed four working groups, which have been meeting monthly since early 2019. These working groups engaged other volunteer leaders to further refine these long-range objectives into more defined and shorter-term goals, tactics, and key performance indicators. A RACI matrix (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) spreadsheet has been created to document and track our work and accountabilities. The spreadsheet has been shared with others who have been using it within their groups to brainstorm ideas and tactics. This work will continue over the next few years.

In summary, your executive board has worked very hard to get everyone rowing their collective ISA boats in the same direction. We are focused, communicating, and working together for the collective good of all. I am immensely pleased and proud to be part of this! While you may not see the immediate impact of all this work, you deserve to be aware of all that is going on. Your board, and the hundreds of other ISA volunteer leaders, exist to serve you. And we take our commitment seriously.

Paul Gruhn
Paul Gruhn
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.

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