The Inevitability of Change

If there is one constant in our lives today it is the dynamic of change. The weather changes, fashion changes, our moods change, our very relevance can at times change—and most profoundly, the people in our lives change.

Change can be both a positive and a negative component in our lives; it’s truly the manner in which we handle and respond to it that makes the difference. It can be a time for reflection and also introspection on our own preparedness for change—as individuals, as an industry, and as ASNT.

On 7 April, the staff of ASNT, along with a number of our members, spent almost the entire day attending memorial services for two members of the ASNT staff. It was perhaps one of the most difficult days our staff has experienced as a cohesive group.

The ASNT family was rocked with the recent passing of two employees in under a three week period. Jim Houf was the senior manager of certification and technical services for twenty years. His nondestructive (NDT) experience, honed in the military and other ventures, provided the foundation of technical expertise that the ASNT staff eagerly sought and was evidenced in the ASNT Community blog, “Technically Speaking with Jim Houf.” The most tenured member of the current ASNT staff at 34 years, Patrick Moore was editor of the Society’s internationally regarded Nondestructive Testing Handbook series. Moore’s intellect, literary prowess, and witticisms are storied across generations of ASNT members and staff. Houf and Moore will be greatly missed, but they leave behind invaluable contributions to both ASNT and the NDT world.

The NDT industry is not immune to change and the gaps unpreparedness can bring. We are all stakeholders in the world’s regard of NDT as a methodology to keep the world safe. This is a field where the great ideas and best practices are built upon every day. The best way to honor the hard work of the past is to thoughtfully plan for transition by confronting the inevitability of change head on.

Planning is imperative to the continued growth and innovation in NDT needed to meet the ever increasing pace of industry production. By continuing to innovate methods and technology as an industry, we are reinforcing our position in the value chain as many manufacturing sectors are evolving to contain costs and employ greater efficiencies. A key component to meeting change is to stay abreast of best practices and new concepts. As easy as it may be to rely on “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” not pushing forward and embracing the inevitability of change will create a stagnation that can cripple an individual’s career or company.

In that same vein, it is up to current NDT stakeholders to promote NDT as a critical career field that should be considered at all levels. There is a role for everyone in this industry on the occupation continuum. Current NDT professionals have an opportunity to play an integral part in how new NDT professionals view the industry and the impact they can make. From mentoring rising NDT professionals, to contributing to advisory panels in technical university NDT programs, now is the time to share wisdom with NDT upstarts.

ASNT also must be vigilant about its preparedness to respond to changing environments. The launch of “A Global Vision: ASNT’s Strategic Plan” gave us all pause in thinking about how to intentionally and thoughtfully order our steps to best position ASNT for relevancy and success well beyond tomorrow. Each goal speaks to an opportunity to deepen the value of the collective wisdom and talents this society holds among its members. As we daily grow more diverse, we recognize the awesome responsibility to keep ASNT agile and able to respond swiftly to changes in the environment so we can meet the needs of our membership. Encouraging new voices to Society conversations is imperative to making certain that our actions are meaningful and justified.

ASNT is strongest when members participate and commit to its mission. Creating a pipeline for engagement that offers paths to volunteer leadership is being evaluated at the ISC. We want to support each member’s desired level of volunteerism and provide the tools and resources to successfully take on new responsibilities. Members’ work and life commitments can change, impacting availability to volunteer. ASNT needs to have willing and prepared volunteers to seamlessly step into leadership positions.

What are some ways you can prepare yourself for change?

•   Commit to your own continuing education. Think beyond achieving the points needed for recertification. Immerse yourself in learning something new and employing it in your work.

•   Commit to volunteering at a STEM event or career fair. Champion outreach programs in your section. Your presence and passion could be a deciding factor for growing our industry by one more.

•   Become a mentor. Give someone new in the industry a helping hand and prime that person for the future.

•   Join an ASNT committee. Actively contribute and participate. Position yourself to fill the knowledge and leadership gap when change occurs.

•   Recruit new members. Members retire and move on to other endeavors. ASNT is great because of the collective minds among the membership.

No one walks away from decades of dedication to making the world a safer a place with the thought of, “Ok. I’ve done my part. Where’s the nearest golf course?” Let us all make certain that we have a plan for future generations of NDT professionals. We can’t predict the direction change will take us; we can, however, determine how we will respond to this change. We must steady our resolve to gracefully accommodate it and use the opportunity to strengthen our knowledge and capacities. Use your time today to prepare for change tomorrow.

As always, please let us know how we can help you, our members, become more successful. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Arnold “Arny” Bereson
ASNT Executive Director