What’s in a name?
Immense effort went into devising the acronym for In-Spec Quality Assurance Ltd but not for its four initials. ‘Spec’ itself is an abbreviation for specification and the sheer artistry of being, remaining in and maintaining a predetermined specification is central to all of the company’s QA (or QC; where the Q is for Quality, A is for Assurance but the C is for Control) activities. However, even greater effort was extolled in gaining permission to use the word ‘Assurance’.
Along with Bank, Mutual, Underwrite and Insurance, from a long list of other sensitive words that might have financial, locational, or professional implications, official consent must be obtained from the Financial Services Authority in London. Wrapped up in UK company law, the FSA determines the professional efficacy of businesses wishing to use ‘sensitive’ words. Fortunately, ISQA was deemed to possess the right qualities and it was granted the right to use ‘Assurance’, which is a qualification up to which it lives.
In chatting with the small but effective team at ISQA, seldom does the full name of the company, In-Spec Quality Assurance, enter the conversation. It is an inevitability of a business arena that is crammed with acronyms of such wildly varying nature that some of them even have to be reiterated carefully, in case of confusion with other speciality fields.
Take ABS as an example. Derived from the German (Anti-Blockier-System), it is readily translated into English as Antilock Braking System…or is it? While generally accepted as an automotive term, so, too, is Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene, which is a terpolymer, a kind of plastic that is used extensively to produce crash-resistant bumpers and also vehicle cabin interior trim panels.
Equally, you can imagine the confusion that ABS raises in fields as varied as American Bureau of Shipping, Asian Bomb Squad, Apple Business Systems, or American Bonanza Society and there are forty more to contend with. Read the specification list of any German motorcar (although the French, Italians and Japanese are catching-up) and you will be confronted by a never-ending array of acronyms, rather too many of which the poor consumer takes for granted, with little more than a wave of the hand and the thought: “Well if it has those letters, I simply must buy them!”. They can add a value perception, although, sadly, the consumer probably does not need them.
The development of the communications industry has introduced us to a wave of initials, from LMAO and WTF, the potential anatomical definitions of which I am sure you might know and probably use with a degree of frequency, to CAD (Computer Aided Design) and BTW (By The Way). Naturally, while abbreviations started with Morse Code and continued with Telex machines, with an inevitable spill-off into Telegrams, where the cost per word would become a criterion in international communiqués, increasing familiarity does not always enhance responsible usage. It is not unknown for communications errors to occur through the improper use of acronyms, a factor that might have tragic consequences in the military arena, let alone in personal relationships.
Try the following popular acronyms as a small test of general knowledge (you will find the answers below, although there will be a few options for some of them):
Having already defined ISQA, the company’s entire reason to exist in the business community is explained. However, the company’s staff and friends often refer to it as ‘ISKER’, or ISQUA’, which also offers up a handful of worldwide definitions, one of the most fascinating and appropriate of which is the Latin expression ‘In Status Quo Ante’. This translates as: ‘the way things used to be’.
In many ways, this can be regarded liberally as ‘the company that measures and monitors that which is correct and maintains it at that accepted level’. In fact, it is the crux of ISQA’s business and might also be regarded as its ethos.
Acronym answers: 1. Deoxyribonucleic Acid; 2. Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus; 3. Radio detecting and ranging; 4. Time and relative dimension in space; 5. Laughing out loud; 6. Fluffed up beyond all recognition (although we did change the first word slightly); 7. Ta-ta for now; 8. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; 9. National Aeronautics and Space Administration; 10. Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (named after the founder of the furniture firm [IK], from his home farm [E], in his hometown [A]).