The plan’s development was like that of a carefully prepared dish. All the right ingredients had to be there. In this case, it meant contributions from ISO members and partner international organizations. And the result reflects the considerable input of those involved. True to ISO’s nature, the plan is the outcome of a substantial degree of consensus from its constituency about what needs to be done.
From the beginning we knew that we wanted an inspiring, clear and consistent message, and I believe we have succeeded. ISO’s vision for the future is straightforward, yet powerful :
“To be the world’s leading provider of high quality, globally relevant International Standards through its members and stakeholders.”
Taking it one step further, the essence, or spirit, of ISO’s five-year strategy is to be customer focused. That is, to give our customers (by which we mean ISO members, users and stakeholders of standards) the standards that they need, when they need them and in the format they require.
Addressing global challenges
And this is reflected in the plan’s mission statement, which in two main points outlines ISO’s mandate. First, to develop high quality voluntary International Standards which facilitate international exchange of goods and services, support sustainable and equitable economic growth, promote innovation and protect health, safety and the environment. ISO’s work aims to support trade and address pressing global challenges. The second element of ISO’s mission is to develop International Standards through an effective process which delivers customer needs and :
- Ensures consensus amongst stakeholders and across countries, through the national delegation principle
- Is fully compliant with the core principles affirmed in the ISO Code of Ethics that require the process to be open, transparent and impartial
- Increasingly facilitates and supports the participation of developing countries
- Produces coherent, effective, widely recognized and relevant standards.
Or to put it even more simply, to be a transparent and impartial platform for building international consensus.
To meet its ambitious vision and mission, ISO set seven straightforward broad objectives explained in detail below. These objectives, together with a series of specific actions for their accomplishment, make up the ISO Strategic Plan 2011-2015. Its action-oriented focus ensures that the plan’s goals are practical and achievable. Furthermore, all objectives are connected, like links in a chain, around the plan’s overall vision and mission.
Meeting customer needs
Meeting customer needs is ISO’s first objective. Business, government, consumers and other stakeholders should be able to rely on ISO as the recognized leading platform for the development and dissemination of global solutions.
ISO deliverables must be solutions-oriented, and create value for their users. It is important that ISO encourages the implementation of its standards, and learns from market experience to improve their relevance and uptake.
The design and development of advanced electronic deliverables will help make ISO standards more accessible to users in different media. One example is the new project to make standards available in XML, which opens up opportunities for how users choose to access ISO content.
ISO management systems standards will be made even more coherent and cost-effective based on users’ views. And stakeholder confidence will be increased with more comprehensive, harmonized and user-friendly conformity assessment practices.
The second objective is to promote innovation and provide global solutions to global challenges.
ISO must reinforce its ability to identify, prioritize and develop International Standards that anticipate and meet market and society needs – supporting technological change, process improvement and transfer of know-how among sectors and across borders.
But it is also crucial to create awareness and communicate the role of International Standards in bringing innovation to the market place, facilitating the development of new markets and improving consumer understanding and confidence.
Developing countries’ participation
Developing countries constitute about two-thirds of ISO’s membership. Their participation is essential to ensure the global relevance of ISO standards. And by getting involved, they will benefit from easier access to world markets, technical progress and sustainable development.
ISO efforts for developing countries include processes, programmes and tools to help them build their standardization capacity, engage their national stakeholders, participate effectively in technical work and implement International Standards. These are consolidated in the new Action Plan for developing countries 2011-2015. And particular attention will be given to countries with limited resources.
ISO will identify priority sectors to optimize the involvement of developing countries, and address standardization issues of key interest to them.
Excelling in reaching out to and engaging stakeholders is the fourth objective. Active involvement of industry, government, consumers and other stakeholders (e.g. through national members), ensures the relevance, quality and use of ISO standards.
ISO needs to communicate standardization projects more effectively to international and national stakeholders, using new technologies and tools to extend its reach. We will support stakeholders with limited resources, such as small enterprises and consumers.
ISO will do more to clarify to public authorities that its standards are voluntary and do not seek to establish public policy. Rather, they can be used to support implementation of public policies and as an element of good public governance.
Finally, it is important to differentiate International Standards developed in compliance with recognized best practice and objectives, from other types of standards or specifications.
Partnerships increase the value and efficiency of ISO standards. Our fifth objective is therefore to promote and manage partnerships with international organizations, standards development organizations, industry consortia, civil society and academia.
ISO’s partnership with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to align policies and coordinate activities, especially in the area of converging technologies, is very important. ISO will also strengthen cooperation with other relevant standards developing organizations, industry consortia, the scientific community and civil society.
International organizations, such as the different UN bodies or the World Trade Organization, can contribute business knowledge and identify new needs for ISO standards, as well as support their market acceptance.
Finally, we will focus on ensuring that liaison organizations provide a benefit to ISO committees that is comparable with the benefit they receive through their access and influence in ISO.
Improving ISO processes
The sixth objective is to significantly improve ISO processes, so that they are more clear, transparent and rigorous to support the development of high quality deliverables.
We must therefore ensure that ISO’s structure and governance are efficient and support its vision and mission, linked closely with the needs and performance of technical committees.
The standards development process itself will continually strive to become faster and better. Participation and standards development must be enhanced by quality training, IT and support services. Secretariats and Chairs of technical and subcommittees will be assigned to organizations that are in the best position to achieve their goals.
The last objective focuses on building awareness. ISO needs to consider customer, stakeholder and the general public needs and priorities, and we should clearly demonstrate the value of voluntary International Standards in terms that are relevant to these customer groups. Our 2015 vision is that communication raises ISO’s profile and recognition of the importance of its activities.
This includes the development of communication material, publications and services. Special attention will be given to Web-based services, new media and communication platforms such as social networks.
It is important to promote and develop studies that demonstrate the economic and social benefits of International Standards. The development of the ISO methodology for measuring the benefits of standards is a step forward. Strengthening cooperation with education institutions will also contribute to this objective.
Ambitious but attainable
With a clear mission, and well defined objectives and actions, there is no doubt in my mind that ISO will achieve its 2015 vision of becoming the global leader of high quality International Standards. And this is particularly important because ISO’s work is very much needed in today’s world.
Globalization has made the world smaller, making the challenges of the few into the challenges of the many. Issues like climate change, food and water availability, converging and new technologies, growing inequalities, economic development, etc. can only be addressed in cooperation. As representatives of mutual consensus and harmonized action, International Standards are key tools for taking action.
We invite you, whether ISO member or stakeholder, to work together with us to make a positive contribution to today’s challenges.
The route map to the global vision for ISO in 2015: to be the world's leading provider of high quality, globally relevant International Standards through its members and stakeholders.