Here’s a weird one. ISO — yes, the official Geneva HQ branch — is soliciting proposals from consultants to help it “review ISO’s financing model.” Unfortunately, ISO didn’t get enough consultants (or anyone?) to bite before the original November 24th deadline, nor the subsequent November 29th deadline, so it had to extend it a third time until February 2018. Awkward!

The RFP appears to be seeking someone to help ISO come up with new ways to make money, and openly admits that its current sources of revenue rely solely on the sale of standards and membership fees. I’ve argued that this arrangement is stunning, in that it requires unpaid volunteers, working through their “member” body, to develop intellectual property which those volunteers then willingly surrender to ISO. ISO then retains all rights to said IP, selling it and keeping the money to pay its officers. Not only do the “members” not get paid, they have to pay ISO for this lopsided arrangement. This means that has ISO created a model where people give them IP for free, and they get to charge the dupes at the same time!

From the official RFP:

The aim of this RFP is to select an independent external expert to analyze the current financing model of the ISO Central Secretariat and propose potential alternative models. The financing model currently comprises approximately 1/3 revenue from the sales of ISO Standards and other publications, and 2/3 revenue from membership fees. Any alternative financing model should develop proposals to incorporate mechanisms to reward members who are contributing significantly to ISO both from a financial and participation perspective. The Consultant must also analyze and compare financing models in place in other organizations similar to ISO.

Seriously, go read it. It’s just stunning.


About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.


ISO 14001 Implementation