Definitions and Terms of Art Used on This Site | Standards Michigan

Definitions and Terms of Art Used on This Site

Because of the weakness of the user-interest in the global standards system, the user-interest has to develop its own vocabulary so that its place and purpose in the global standards system can be more easily understood.

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Library of Alexandria

ANSI stakeholders (interest categories).   National standards organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and its counterparts in other nations such as the CSA Group, BSI Group, Standards Australia, Standards Norway, Standards Malaysia and the Deutsches Institut für Normung) set up what amounts to “little democracies” to govern a technology or business process.  The criteria for balance are that,  

a) no single interest category constitutes more than one‑third of the membership of a consensus body dealing with safety-related standards or,

b) no single interest category constitutes a majority of the membership of a consensus body dealing with other than safety-related standards. The broad categories are:

  • Producer (Seller)
  • User (Buyer)
  • General Interest

Consensus on a standards development committee means substantial agreement reached directly and materially affected interest categories.  This signifies the concurrence of more than a simple majority but not necessarily unanimity.   

Because the User-interest — at best — only represents 1/3rd of the vote on a well-balanced technical committee this means that the education facilities industry must forge alliances with like-minded stakeholders among the Producers and/or the General Interests in order to advance its own agenda for delivering value to the primary (educational and research) mission of our industry.   


User/Owner/Final fiduciary.  The stakeholder who is responsible for reconciling the competing requirements of safety and economy.   In large universities especially, where there are resources for a full-time enforcement and compliance staff, this staff is charged with enforcing codes and standards for one or two technologies they are trained for.  Because it is virtually impossible to conform to all codes and standards — because they were written by incumbents — one stakeholder is responsible for triaging conformity to all the regulations.    We refer to that interest — typically the Chief Business Officer, Trustee or Regent, as the final fiduciary; or — to make it clear in other regulatory product development regimes — the user/owner/final fiduciary.    Background: ANSI Due Process Requirements for American national standards 


Incumbent interests.   A term of art borrowed from a December 2012 Harvard Business Review article by James Alworth, titled “How Corruption is Strangling U.S. Innovation”  We have adapted and applied this language to describe manufacturers, insurance, labor, enforcement & compliance interests who we meet on standards development committees.  These interests directly finance their standards development activities in order to generate revenue.  The User interest — particularly the non-enforcement/compliance public sector user interest — does not have an generally accepted financing mechanism for challenging the market-making activity of the incumbents.  One of the politically sensitive characteristics of advocating in this space is that incumbent interests usually support the many education industry trade associations.  We often refer to this problem as a “wicked problem“; a term of art in common use in academic research circles.  


Regulatory “Products”.   Documents commonly known as codes, standards, guides, recommended practices require a compliance and enforcement component to make them useful.  In fact, the organizations that develop (or manufacture) the intellectual property of, say, the National Electrical Code, or the Safety Standard for Elevators and Lifts, the International Building Code, IEEE 3000-series, or ASHRAE 90.1 have developed a revenue stream associated with the document itself.  In many cases, the revenue stream associated with training enforcement interests is on the same scale as the sale of the document itself.   Most of the larger consensus standards developers have diversified their activity beyond the production and sale of the document itself, and into training, enforcement, accreditation,  etc.  Arguably, the manufacture (or development of the document itself) is the “seed corn” planted to capture training, enforcement and accreditation revenue.


@StandardsUMich.   A regulatory advocacy enterprise begun at the University of Michigan Plant Operations in 1993.  The term — @StandardsUMich — does not represent an enterprise outside Plant Operations but is a necessary “handle” for social media; primarily Twitter.   On July 26, 2016 an entire division was suddenly reorganized, removing @StandardsUMich.  That enterprise began its “recrudescence” as Standards Michigan on July 28, 2016.  See ABOUT.


zietgeist.  A German word describing the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.   Merriman definition: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zeitgeist.  We use this term to describe commonly accepted business management initiatives such as “sustainability”.

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