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A big shout out to the people behind standards this Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu National Volunteer Week

Standards are one of the unsung heroes behind so much of the interoperability, efficiency, safety and quality assurance we take for granted on a daily basis. And behind standards are volunteers on standards development committees.

The Big Shout Out. Thank you to our many committee members this Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu | National Volunteer Week 2023

Some of our many committee members across Aotearoa.

Standards don’t happen by magic. Behind every calculation and measurement, every advice on good practice, every process, detail, specification, list, and consideration are a group of people coming to agreement on it. Behind this group of people sits decades of tried and tested experience applied in different scenarios and applications where the standard applies.

This week we celebrate these people and the role they play.

National Volunteer Week 18 to 24 June 2023, an initiative by Volunteering New Zealand, honours the collective energies and mana of volunteers in Aotearoa. This year their ‘Big Shout Out’ encourages awareness of people working behind the scenes to bring about positive change.

Standards could not exist without volunteers

Standards are not just documents; they are the direct result of a group of hard-working subject matter experts agreeing the right way to do something.

So where does Standards New Zealand fit into this?

ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) describes the role of a national standards body (like us) as being like a conductor, while the committee are the symphony. Their diverse views and individual perspectives and experiences create the ‘music’ while we help coordinate and manage the process (and protect the standard they create and manage access for users).

One of the great things about standards is they are created by those who use and need them, to be fair and avoid monopolies or biased views shaping how industries operate.

Let's make music (figuratively speaking)

What does standards development committee participation involve?

It can depend on the standard and starts with negotiating scope, key definitions and content and involves reading, writing, proofing, commenting, explaining, listening, learning, sharing, analysing, creating, simplifying, teamwork, and ensuring you give your individual contribution.

Getting involved does bring great benefits to you as a practitioner and those you work for:

  • early access to information that could shape the market in the future
  • giving your company, or New Zealand. a voice in the development of industry practice
  • the needs or concerns of your subject specialism or distinct views considered in standards that impact your line of work
  • helping to keep market access open in your area
  • an unparalleled professional network of people with a shared interest
  • and leaving a legacy of your knowledge and experience.

There is no ‘typical’ committee member. If you know your area of work and can see the bigger picture then your distinct viewpoint is important. Committee members are problem solvers and collaborators, innovators, academics, practitioners, systems and process experts, and those with a big world lens or those who simply know what works well. So, if you see a way to solve the problems standards help address, we welcome your expression of interest.

Become involved in standards development(external link)

Standards New Zealand National Manager Malcolm MacMillan says, 'To the hundreds of people who have either given time over the years or are actively participating on a committee right now – we say a huge thank you. Unseen does not mean unappreciated, and while we can’t speak to each one of the hundreds of you individually, this Big Shout Out is for you.'