Standard Shift

featured-crewcallWell, I’m just back from InfoComm, and after three days I have almost sorted out the debris. I have unpacked two suitcases full of dirty clothes, two boxes of literature I will never read, and several of the mysteriously popular LED flashing pins. Sometimes I wonder if trade shows are a conspiracy by the airlines to increase all those new fees for excess luggage.

But it was a good show, despite the fact that, as usual, I didn’t get to see much of it. But I had a number of great meetings with people I don’t get to see that often, and they prompted some great discussion.

One of the things we talk most often about is the direction of our various trade associations, primarily InfoComm. This is because they are by far the largest, with over 30,000 people attending the show this year, not to mention all of their other shows. The direction of InfoComm is relatively plain to see, with a world map of growing shows and a growing membership. But this left a number of us talking about its direction as a trade association, which I believe it is not, or at least not anymore. I feel this way because unlike other trade associations, you don’t actually have to be a trade member to join. You can participate as a student, an end-user, a dealer, a manufacturer, a distributor, an educator, etc. In fact, I think they have really missed the boat by not declaring a membership category of “attendee” or “bystander.”

This is not to say that this is not a valuable organization, only to say that it is no longer strictly a trade association. In fact, one of the things that we talked about most as we bore the heat outside in Las Vegas, smoking and yelling at each other, was the fact that InfoComm has also become a standards organization, working with ANSI to produce “industry standards.” However, the standards still mostly address performance by commercial members, although much of the constituency is no longer commercial. Comparisons were made to the mice voting to bell the cat, always carefully looking around to make sure no one in a red shirt was listening, lest the next “standard”include a ban on useless gossip at the show.

But, this month, I am here to help. In order to level the playing field, I am submitting the following “standards”to be used to evaluate the other part of our membership, those of you who are end-users. In fact, I believe we should begin with a code of ethics and conduct similar to those used by the CTS designation. So I humbly submit this pledge for consideration by the membership:

  • As a certified end-user, I understand that my personal standards of honor and integrity must, at all times, be above reproach, and that I must conduct myself in a manner that reflects favorably upon my fellow end-users. Therefore, I hereby pledge to stop referring to a 10,000-lumen 3-D projection system as an “overhead projector.”
  • As a certified end-user, I pledge to be truthful and accurate in what I say, do and write. This includes providing accurate counts of the number of people who will attend an event, and providing an agenda that is at least somewhat representative of reality, even if this means having to actually pick up the phone and check these numbers before I give them to my staging company.
  • As a certified end-user, I will demonstrate a commitment to excellence in all aspects of my role, and will encourage the highest level of ethics within the industry, even if this robs me of the ability to throw the technical director under the bus in front of my boss.
  • As a certified end-user, I will avoid compromise of my professional judgment by conflicts of interest. Therefore, I pledge not to ditch the rehearsals in favor of attending the free cocktail party I got from the hotel for booking the show.
  • As a certified end-user, I will undertake only those assignments for which I am competent by way of education, training and experience, and will insist on the same competencies in the rest of my crew. This means that I will not bring in my brother-in-law who “knows a lot about stereos”to direct the show.
  • As a certified end-user, I understand that my ethics are scrutinized by my industry. Therefore, I promise to take a mail-order course to improve my memory, so that I will pay the bills that I signed for and not insist that I changed them verbally later.
  • As a certified end-user, I pledge to do my best to achieve clarity in my communications with my suppliers, including remembering to tell them about the marching band that will come through the room during the opening, which will require wireless microphones for 72 brass instruments.
  • Lastly, as a certified end-user I hereby pledge not to step to the podium, tap the microphone, and shout, “Is this thing on?”, understanding that when I do, it is not the crew’s fault that they roll their eyes.

We continue to move forward as an industry, sometimes despite ourselves. In order to help with that progress, next month we will address a code of conduct for tradeshow exhibitors, even if we have to tell Microsoft that this means actually showing up with an exhibit.