There's a standard for that!

ISO standards are all around us, and it's overwhelming to comprehend the sheer scale that these documents have embedded themselves into our everyday movements.

  • Interested in fair trade chocolate? There’s a standard for that – ISO 34101.

  • Required to submit CPE every few years to maintain that license? ISO 17024 is to thank.

  • Not sure about scanning that QR code to pay for parking? ISO 37180 wants to enforce minimum security requirements for QR technologies impacting consumers.

  •  And, a long-time favorite, ISO 8601 thinks that the first day of the week is Monday – mainly to provide consistency across systems and regions where the representation of dates and times is critical.

In fact, ISO has published over 25,000 standards, crossing this milestone for the first time in 2023.

Toblerone was forced to drop its logo of the Matterhorn in 2022 after it moved its production facilities to Slovakia putting the iconic image in violation of the Swissness Act designed to combat selling counterfeit Swiss products.

It’s similar to the experience when you first discovered that there is an image hidden within a recognizable image you encounter daily, such as a popular brand logo like Toblerone (find the bear). Or, even a third meaning beyond the second image – that bear is a nod to Bern, Switzerland known as the “City of Bears”.

"The best place to hide something is in plain sight."

Edgar Allan Poe

ISO standards, in many respects, act as an invisible hand, but they have far less sinister intentions than a Big Brother seemingly perpetually surveilling you. As the name suggests, ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. Think consistency, repeatability, calibration. These are all positive attributes when attempting to define or mature processes, systems, and products that require interdepartmental, intercompany, and cross-border collaboration.

According to its website, ISO “brings global experts together to agree on the best ways of doing things, from making products to managing processes.”

As a group of experts in our subject matter, it is wise for us not only to be aware when these standards are at play but also to investigate the meaning behind the content and its defined boundaries to avoid ghost requirements. Commonly, we refer to this practice as understanding the source material.

For us to be students of the text, we need to know not only all layers of the requirements (more on that in the future) but by whom so we can learn their backgrounds and incentives.

By learning these behind-the-curtain topics, we will combat the trend of checkbox auditors and practitioners akin to soldiers blindly following their general into danger.

Stay tuned.

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We are all about creating awareness while poking fun. Will your team avoid the office with a 10-foot pole but is the last to leave the happy hour? This newsletter might be for them.


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