IFAN winning posters

Standards make the world go round

By Gabriela Ehrlich

As reported in the August 2010 e-tech, last year IFAN (the International Federation of Standards Users) invited all persons wishing to express their artistic vision of the importance and benefits of standards and  standardization to take part in the second IFAN international contest by preparing a poster depicting the theme, “Standards make the world go round”. One hundred and twenty posters were received.

IFAN winning poster 2011 The winning entry: Adi Baskoro (Indonesia)

At the 13th IFAN International Conference held in Seattle, Washington, US (United States) on 12-13 October 2010 during the IEC General Meeting, the IFAN Board selected the winners.

First place went to Adi Baskoro of Indonesia with Barbara Gur and Edwina Michael of Israel respectively gaining 2nd and 3rd places.

The conference was opened by Ross Wraight, IFAN President, who welcomed delegates and thanked IEC CEO and General Secretary Ronnie Amit and the IEC for their invitation. Amit extended his warm welcome to IFAN members and delegates and said the IEC hoped that IFAN would continue to hold its annual conference side by side with IEC meetings. e underlined the importance of listening and communicating with standards users to better understand their needs.

Achieve understanding – Awareness without comprehension is nothing

Session 1 of the conference was dedicated to “Awareness of Standards”. The IEC was invited to talk by Vered Oren, IFAN Board Member and President of ISUS (Israeli Standards Users Society). In her presentation, Gabriela Ehrlich, Head of Communications of the IEC, underlined the importance of not only raising the awareness but of increasing the overall understanding of the usefulness of standards. “The problem starts at the simplest level,” she said. “Even though most people know the word ‘standard’, they rarely understand the crucial importance of standards for business, trade and consumer safety, convenience and comfort.”

Having joined the IEC from industry a little over one year ago, she vividly remembers her own distorted perception of standards, saying that the word “standard” generates images that are only marginally positive.

“Most people like to express their uniqueness and personality through personalized products and devices,” she said. “However, the word ‘standard’ conjures up connotations of ‘mass-produced’, ‘all-the-same, ‘lowest common denominator’. Not something that is aspirational. It is therefore no wonder that standards, despite a high level of overall awareness, are not able to stimulate a similarly high level of interest in the general population.

“I find that when I pronounce the word ‘standard’ to individuals, whether in a personal or business context, they politely nod and at best lose interest. However, when I avoid the ‘S’ word and simply talk about rules, specifications and the metrics that are needed to make products fit and work together, safely, everywhere, they keep an open mind. When I stress how essential it is to participate in the standards-setting process, I simply explain that companies need to sit at the table where those rules are written, and everybody gets the picture.”

Ehrlich believes that to increase the understanding, and subsequently the use, of standards, people have a need to clearly realize “what’s in it for them”. One way is to collect success stories and to pass them on.

Maybe the next competition of IFAN should be to find a new name for what we do, to replace the “S” word.

Links to posters in minute format or pdf here.

IFAN winning poster 2011 The winning entry: Adi Baskoro (Indonesia)
IFAN 2nd place poster 2011 Runner-up: Barbara Gur (Israel)
IFAN 3rd place poster 2011 Edwina Michael (Israel), came third