The ACORD community can demonstrate a type of behavior that's becoming, sadly, less common: a group of passionate people, with divergent opinions and interests to advance and defend, arguing reasonably with each other and coming to an agreement.
How come participants in standards can manage this and politicians can't – or won't? It's not because the politicians are playing for higher stakes. They may think they're important, but their real power seemingly lies in the ability to delay events. The business and technical (and business/technical) people who get involved in standards are working to safeguard and expand the industry they jointly comprise. This is real existential stuff.
In his book about how moral psychology, The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt notes that the ending of practical bi-partisanship in Washington coincided with politicians deciding not to move their families to D.C. In former times, people from opposing sides of a debate would mix with each other and their families. They lived in the same town and went to the same parties. It's hard to hate someone when your kids play together. It doesn't stop you opposing their views, but it helps you realise they're not aliens.
ACORD's achievements over the years rest partly on the smarts of the people involved, advances in technology and results on the ground. But a large part of the success is also due to people working together – in the same rooms, on the same threads, on the same calls.
Face time can look like lost time, if you only think about it in balance sheet terms. In reality, the time we spend together is a shrewd investment. As industry, commerce and government become ever more distributed, collaboration is key to delivery. No matter how smart our technology, people are the drivers.