ISA, What’s in a Name?

As someone who has been in the throes a time or two with product naming, I’ve been an interested bystander in the latest thoughts on renaming the ISA organization, specifically on the acronym’s meaning. You’ll note that I didn’t add a parenthetical on what it stands for because I lost track after it changed from what I originally knew it to be–the Instrument Society of America. This, I’m sure, is not because my mind’s agility has slipped, but rather due to one of positioning guru Jack Trout‘s laws, minds hate to change.

This all began on Monday with an email from John Prince, an ISA delegate in the Los Angeles section, to the ISA fieldbus email list:

I’d like to find out what you folks think about the proposed name change from “ISA – The Instrumentation, Systems & Automation Society” to “International Society of Automation.”

This proposed change will be put to a vote by the Council of Delegates in Houston this October.

The fun of course begins when you open something like this to a group. Imagine if you’re expecting a new addition to the family and throw the naming of the child to all the close and distant relatives. You’ll probably get more arguments than any closer to a solution.

The email responses I’ve seen so far are one of three variations. Keep it as is; agree with the new proposal John cites; or my favorite, “Why does it have to stand for anything?”

I like the third approach because of all the minds that may be like mine and refuse to change. ISA is much easier to say than what I originally knew it by so I’ll continue to say and use ISA, because it’s shorter.

It’s like IBM. For folks that have been around a while, they may think International Business Machines, but will always say and use IBM because it’s shorter. For younger folks, it’s IBM and they likely don’t care what it stands for. If they are really curious, they can visit the history page on the website.

That’s my two cents on playing the name game and I guarantee my mind is not likely to change.

Update: Welcome readers of Gary Mintchell’s Feed Forward blog! What do you think the ISA name should stand for, if anything?

Posted Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 under Miscellaneous.

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