Standardizing the colours of global print markets
An exclusive interview of the CEO of Idealliance, Tim Baechle
Idealliance, a well-known global think tank, is a non-profit graphic communications industry organization with 12 strategically located offices around the world. Idealliance serves brands, OEMs, service providers in print and packaging, content & media creators, creative agencies, material suppliers, and innovators & developers worldwide. Idealliance do their work through ISO Standards Innovation, Print and Digital Workflows & Technologies Development & Integration, Technical Research, Certification, Training, Brand & Facility Auditing Programs, Brand Strategy Consulting/Premedia and serves as a Global Super Connector for brands, print buyers, service providers, & OEMs throughout the world. Idealliance’s specifications have transformed the graphic communications industry by defining production workflows for color (GRACoL®, SWOP®, XCMYK™, G7®, and BrandQ®).
Graphic Arts Association of Hong Kong, as the located office of Idelliance Greater Bay Area China, is very honoured to invite Mr.Tim Baechle to have a special conversation with us, in order to share his personal work experiences, also the previous establishments, unforgettable moments and future plans of Idealliance, in the last cover story of 2019.
Editor: Jas Cheung@Graphic Arts Association of Hong Kong
Photograph: Mr.Tim Baechle and Located offices of Idealliance
Editor:What is the purpose of the establishment of Idealliance?
Baechle: On top of this work, Idealliance, at its core is in the business of serving. We are driven by serving others, no matter where they are in the world, which is why we have so many global offices and continue to establish global offices around the world. Wherever people seek to streamline efficiencies, increase profitability, create cultures of process control and seek education, training and certification, Idealliance wants to be there in support. We feel it is absolutely necessary to be globally present and most certainly physically present in order to be of the best service in the industry. There is nothing more important than meeting people face-to-face, working with them side-by-side and not only getting to know them, but allowing them to get to know us. We are driven by culture and character and how we serve, always making certain that any interaction that anyone has with Idealliance in the world is always a wonderful experience. Learn, Lead and Serve are three core principles that we carry with us in all the work we do internally and externally.We also have a foundation, called the Idealliance Foundation, which provides scholarships around the world for the indelibly important future generation of our industry seeking degrees in graphic arts and graphic communications.
These scholarships are typically focused on providing financial assistance to those in need, where without the assistance of Idealliance and certainly others as well, their education would not be possible. Life is about giving back, reaching out and lifting others up, wherever and whenever this is possible. We also look at giving from a holistic standpoint that Idealliance has much more to give than just financial support, but also certifications, trainings, education, curriculum, mentorship, and everything our organization has to offer. We put a lot into this work and find it to be the most important work we do. The future of our industry is so incredibly important and whatever we can do as an organization to lift others around the world is what drives us each day in the work that we do. There is no better place to find yourself than in the service to others.
Editor:You are an experienced expert devoting in brand management, brand alignment, brand equity and color management in your entire career. Can you please share why did you join Idealliance at the beginning?
Beachle: This is a great question. I have enjoyed a very unique career in the industry that has allowed me to work and live all over the world. I spent much of my career building companies and then selling them off. The first one was in software and the second one was in hardware. Both companies were built to help and transform our industry and the innovations that we brought to market are still in-use today and being sold all over the world. I was an accidental entrepreneur. I never set out to start a company, let alone two companies, but sometimes that is how life goes. The goal with any company is always to have an exit strategy in mind. I always say I lived my life in reverse because I did these things when I was very young and sold these companies when I was very young, and I also was traveling the world at a very young age.So, I essentially was retired in my mid-30’s. I worked as a consultant to many OEMs around the world because I found retirement or whatever that period of time was quite boring. My mind needs to be stimulated. I love to read, I love to learn, I love challenges and l love serving people. I attended college on a soccer scholarship and received a B.A and a M.A. in International Studies and International Communication Management, Linguistics where my focus was actually on theology. I was studying to be a Catholic priest, which is a life of service. I attended a private Catholic, NCAA Division 1 college because I wanted to go serve the world. I went on a lot of recruiting trips to universities, but when I stepped foot on the university that I decided on, I knew I was where I needed to be. It had a special feeling to it and was a culture of service.
How I ended up at Idealliance is kind of serendipitous. One day, I received a phone call from the then CEO asking me if I would like to come work at Idealliance. I was a G7 Expert, but I actually did not know anything else about the organization at all, not even the person who was calling me. But the call was compelling. It was a call to service. The first call lasted almost two hours and we had subsequent calls as well talking about what I would do at Idealliance or what I wanted to do. I wanted to grow Idealliance around the world. So, that is what we did. It then grew into developing certifications and educations, consulting, revision of all of our programs and everything in between. Before I knew it, I was traveling 200,000+ miles per year and loving every minute of it. From there, I started to tweak what Idealliance looked like from the inside, hiring new people, making a great deal of changes and streamlining the organization.
Around this time, the current CEO called me and asked me to take over and lead the organization, which surprised me because I never came to Idealliance to become the CEO. I have been the CEO of a number of organizations and I was really happy in the role I was in, but the timing was such that the request was made to me to step into the CEO role so I humbly took on a new role. I like to refer to it as reluctant leadership. I do not believe in hierarchy, but in teamwork. Everyone within an organization, especially an organization such as Idealliance is as important as the next individual. Titles do not matter. We work very hard to work as one and lead together where everyone has incredibly autonomy, input and decision making. When everyone in the organization feels great about being part of Idealliance and feels part about doing something bigger than just themselves that makes quite a happy internal culture because the most important thing to me is culture and I care deeply about every individual within Idealliance.
Editor: Can you illustrate to the readers the past achievements of Idealliance?
Baechle:The Idealliance PPC is made up of everyone that represents the global supply chain in printing and packaging. From this group and within Idealliance, we have brought the world: G7®, GRACoL®, SWOP®, BrandQ®, ISO/PAS 15339, IT8/7.4, IT8/7.5 characterization targets, the world’s 1st ECG target-datasets and profile, ISO/TS 10128, ISO 20654, ISO 19303-1, 12647 (2-9) huge contributor to revisions and also writing many of them, ISO 20616-1, ISO 20616-2 and so many other ISO standards and specifications. We also have so much more that is being released in 2019/2020, much of which will move to ISO standards and specifications.
The Idealliance PPC is made up of everyone that represents the global supply chain in printing and packaging. From this group and within Idealliance, we have brought the world: G7®, GRACoL®, SWOP®, BrandQ®, ISO/PAS 15339, IT8/7.4, IT8/7.5 characterization targets, the world’s 1st ECG target-datasets and profile, ISO/TS 10128, ISO 20654, ISO 19303-1, 12647 (2-9) huge contributor to revisions and also writing many of them, ISO 20616-1, ISO 20616-2 and so many other ISO standards and specifications. We also have so much more that is being released in 2019/2020, much of which will move to ISO standards and specifications.
I am deeply grateful for everyone that gives their time to not only Idealliance, but to furthering our great industry. Our work is about creating unbelievable efficiencies and incredibly profitability. The implementation of G7 is far, far more than simply a methodology. The result is immeasurable waste reduction, unbelievable profitability increases and savings that studies has shown has been in the hundreds of thousands of US Dollars well into the millions of US Dollars per year across individual companies. If we were not increasing efficiency and profitability, then there would be no reason for us to exist. Everyone is entitled to make money and Idealliance and the world of Idealliance is focused on making this achievable day after day in every aspect of the supply chain. Our focus is on driving incredible efficiencies through our work and especially driving profitability for those we serve.
Currently, Idealliance has offices in the United States with our HQ in Alexandria, Virginia, which is just outside of Washington D.C. Our global offices are located in: Australasia, Greater Bay Area China, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Pakistan, Southeast Asia & Korea, South Asia, Taiwan-China, Africa and MENA (Middle East North Africa). We will be continuing to add offices around the world in 2020 and beyond. Idealliance has been around since 1966, but we consider ourselves a start-up because, honestly, we are just getting started in fulfilling the needs of the world. It is limitless.
Editor: Do you think the good colour management knowledge is essential to determine the printing quality? Why?
Baechle: We think that having an excellent understanding of fundamental colour management knowledge, standards and specifications is certainly part of determining quality and most certainly part of measuring quality. It is difficult to understand what people know because you cannot see inside their heads so your rely on understanding through communication, where everyone speaks the same colour language, such as why we created BrandQ®, which G7® is firmly part of us as well. If everyone is speaking the “same language” from design through production then there can be not only incredible consistency and repeatability, but incredible fluidity, massively reduced costs, massively reduced waste, and so many savings because you have eliminated the ambiguity. If you are focused on one specification across your supply chain, fluidly, then things will be much more seamless. Things go haywire when there is so much disconnect and lack of knowledge across the supply chain and this exists all over the world.
We as people assume the biggest companies in the world and the biggest brands in the world “must” have this knowledge because they are “X” brand, but when you really work with these brands you find out some do have knowledge and many do not. This is true for service providers as well. You find some say they run a process control culture top to bottom and have unbelievable repeatability, but when audited you find they don’t. This all circles back to two things, ego and education. One thing needs to be parked, which is ego and one thing needs to never stop, which is education. In life, no matter what industry you are in, people like to identify themselves as “experts” or as subject matter experts. Identity in this world, especially today’s world is incredibly important, which is also unfortunate.
People are hustling for their worthiness and coveting information. I would describe myself as an expert of nothing, but a curious and continuous learner. My curiosity leads me. I am a voracious reader, listener and I love to study people and the psychology of people, including the psychology of myself, because if I work on being the best version of myself every day, embracing, knowing and working on my short-comings, then I can be the best version of myself for those that are in my life. It is continuous work, never losing sight and never stopping working on my shortcomings. The very best experiences that I have ever had in my life, which I would not trade for the world, are all the times I have fallen and all that I have learned from failing. Failing has taught me so much. It also has never stopped me from keeping on going and continuing to “climb the mountain”.
I have lost much and many in my life, but I have through all these hard times and sad times.Life can trip you up, it can make you fall to your knees and it can also bring you straight down flat on your face, but if you can pick yourself up, wipe off the dust and keep on moving, then you can propel yourself from what might seem unsurmountable straight back up the “mountain of life”. I personally feel that you need a “North Star” in order to never lose your way, for when you do, you can always look up, find your “beacon” and keep on moving.
Editor: How do you evaluate the works and values of Idealliance Greater Bay Area China in 2019? Do you think Graphic Arts Association of Hong Kong realize the cooperation partnership as you expected?
Baechle:I think this question is better suited for Idealliance Greater Bay Area China. How do they evaluate the works, values and support of Idealliance? I treasure the relationship with Idealliance Greater Bay Area China and the Graphic Arts Association of Hong Kong. I wish we would have begun this relationship many, many years ago. It is hard to express in writing just how grateful I am to everyone at Idealliance Greater Bay Area China. They are simply phenomenal in every single way. The quality of character of everyone at Idealliance Greater Bay Area China is simply phenomenal. It is a perfect alignment with Idealliance HQ and I strongly believe that the similarities is why we thrive together. The work they have done in the region is exceeding our expectations and I know it will only continue to grow. Dicky Choy is a great leader, a man of outstanding character and someone that not only deeply loves and cares about this great industry, but he deeply loves and cares for everyone in it. It shows in his tireless support for the industry. I have no idea when he actually sleeps because I think he is busy every night of the week at an event. On top of that, he like everyone else at Idealliance around the world, cheers people on, supports Idealliance globally and is incredible ambassador not only for Idealliance, but our industry as a whole. I treasure Dicky, his staffs and our relationship.
Baechle: BrandQ®, has grown tremendously around the world. It started as a certification program and grew into a global ISO auditing program. We went from doing open, public trainings to private trainings around the world with the biggest brands and companies in the world. BrandQ is growing every single month around the world and like any program, in order to communicate something globally, it spreads, some regions of the world are implementing BrandQ every day and training is consistent. We have more scheduled in 2020 for India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, China and the United States. We are excited about the certification because it truly encompasses the entire supply chain and really brings in the brands and creatives.
Editor: In your opinion, how will the printing industry change in the coming future?
Baechle: This is truly a question that evolves daily. Since we travel and I travel over 300,000+ miles per year all over the world, I can speak to what I see evolving, which is amazing. I think in the industry we get stuck on words. I just came from an ISO meeting and some people were talking about digital printing as “new technology”. I stopped the conversation and asked why do people speak of it this as new? This is not new technology. If you think it is new, you are far behind and if we are here to create the standards of the industry in ISO and talk about digital as “new” technology, then we cannot be of service by creating the global standards of the industry, which should always be exceedingly far ahead of the industry. This is established technology that is the fastest growing technology segment of our industry. Digital printing, inkjet (high speed production) presses, are evolving at a rate that is staggering. Not just with quality, but speed, size, output size offerings (roll and sheeted), material capabilities, but most importantly, the colour gamut of these machines are larger than any technology in the world. We are seeing people adopt inkjet technology over EP (electrophotographic) and other technology in third world countries day after day. That speaks volumes for where we are today in printing and packaging.
Baechle: Look at how far we have come just in speed in the last year alone with inkjet. Now, in a matter of years or probably even less, inkjet speed with match the speed of conventional and analog printing. This is game changing because the big differentiator is variable imaging and data. That cannot be done on conventional and analog. Anyone in this industry knows the essentialness of variability. We train all the OEMs in the world in this segment and I cannot wait to see where we are in 5 years. Amazing technology and an amazing technology race going on in the world. There are also certain regions of the world where you find more digital than any other technology. That to some people would be hard to comprehend, but this is very true.
Editor: Please share with us the future plans of Idealliance in 2020.
Baechle: Our plans, my plans for 2020 are really focused on strategic global growth and development of programs, standards and certifications. I will be spending a great deal of time traveling the world in high growth regions and with all of our global offices, which is essential in my opinion to always maintain a very close relationship with Idealliance around the world. I will be in India, Asia, the ASEAN region, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
I am really looking forward to 2020, because we have a lot of tradeshows coming up around the world that we have been asked to attend, a lot speaking engagements, a lot of important consulting engagements, a ton of certification trainings and lots of people to meet around the world. It will be a very exciting year. Although, I do miss home with all the travel and I do get tired from time to time, but what keeps me moving is who we serve, why we serve, who I serve along side with and all those I am so deeply grateful for around the world. Idealliance is not about one person it is about all of us coming together for a common purpose and to watch that in action is wonderful. It truly fills my heart.
致力讓色彩世界標準化 專訪Idealliance首席執行長—Mr.Tim Baechle
Baechle：非常感謝你的提問，這是一個有趣的問題。我一直在從事非常獨特的工作，這種模式造就我可以在世界各地工作和生活。我花了很多時間建立初創公司，然後將其出售。當中第一間是軟件公司，第二間是硬件公司。兩家公司的建立其實都在某程度上幫助和改變我們的行業，尤其我們推向市場的創新技術至今仍在使用，並推銷往世界各地。我會認為我是一個偶然的企業家。 我從未打算成立一家公司，更不用說兩家公司了，但是有時候生活就是你無法預料的。 我總是過著跟別人相反的生活—我年紀很小的時候就在買賣公司，而且還很小的時候就開始環遊世界。因此，我基本上在30多歲時退休了。我其後曾擔任全球許多OEM的顧問，但其實退休的生活蠻無聊的。我是那種思想需要被不斷激發的人—我歡閱讀、學習、挑戰及為人們服務。 我早年因為一項足球獎學金而入讀了大學，並順利取得語言學國際研究和國際傳播管理的學士及碩士學位，但我的研究重點實際上是神學。我當時希望成為一名天主教牧師，這其實也是一種服務生活的訓練，我就讀的也是私立天主教大學，因為我知道自己想為世界服務。
Beachle：Idealliance對我們過去的工作感到非常自豪。我們也為與我們在世界各地合作，而使我們的工作成為可能的所有人感到特別感激。 我們所做的很多事情都是通過Idealliance印刷屬性及色彩委員會(Print Properties & Colorimetric Council)完成的，該工作組是一個全球性的工作委員會，由世界領先的色彩科學家、物理學家、數學家、化學家、 色彩管理專家、OEM、創新者、品牌、創意人才、顧問和服務提供商共同加入而成。Idealliance PPC由代表全球印刷和包裝供應鏈的所有人組成，我們創建了不少色彩標準：G7®、GRACoL®、SWOP®、BrandQ®、ISO / PAS 15339、IT8 / 7.4、IT8 / 7.5、世界上第一個ECG目標數據集和配置文件、 ISO / TS 10128、ISO 20654、ISO 19303-1、12647（2-9）、ISO 20616-1，ISO 20616-2和許多其他ISO標準和規範。 我們還將在本年度發布更多內容，其中許多將轉向ISO標準和規範。
我非常感謝每個為Idealliance及行業付出過心力的人，我們的工作創造了令人難以置信的效率和企業利潤。 G7的實施遠不單是簡單的方法論，它的成果是無可估量的廢物減少及利潤增加。曾有研究顯示，各個公司每年節省的費用高達數十萬、甚至數百萬美元。每個人都有增加利潤的權利，Idealliance致力於在供應鏈的各個方面日復一日地實現這一目標—通過我們的工作來提高效率，尤其是為我們所服務的人們提高他們的盈利能力。目前，Idealliance的總部設在美國華盛頓州亞歷山大市。我們的全球辦事處已拓展至：大洋洲、中國大灣區、墨西哥、拉丁美洲、歐洲、巴基斯坦、東南亞及韓國、南亞、中國台灣、非洲和中東北非。 我們將在2020年及以後繼續在全球範圍內增加辦事處。 Idealliance雖於早始於1966年，但我們認為自己是一家初創企業。我們才剛剛開始滿足世界對於色彩的需求。它的價值是無限的。
這一切都回溯於兩件事—自我和教育。 他們必須停放一件事—自我；他們永遠不能停下來的另一件事—學習。 生活中，無論身處哪個行業，人們都喜歡將自己標認為「專家」。尤其是當今世界，身份認同或者非常重要，但我認為這也是不幸的。人們正在為自我價值和不斷湧現的信息而奔忙。我會形容自己是一位無所作為的專家，並且是一個好奇心不斷的學習者。好奇心一直引導我做任何的決定。 我是一個貪婪的讀者、傾聽者，我喜歡研究人們和人們的心理，包括我自己的心理。如果我每天都努力成為自己最好的自己，而且擁抱、了解和解決自己的缺點， 那麼我可以成為生命中最美好的自己。失敗教會了我很多東西，而這也從未阻止我繼續前進並繼續向目標前進。我一生中也曾失去了很多，但在所有這些艱難時刻和悲傷時刻中，我從未停止過繼續前進。 生活可以使你絆倒，但是如果你可以站起來，擦去灰塵，然後繼續前進，那麼你可以使自己擺脫困境，那些似乎無法克服的事物也直接引領你至嶺峰。 我個人認為，你需要似是北極星的方向才能永不迷路，你始終可以抬頭查找，找到人生的燈塔並繼續前進。
Baechle：我認為這個問題更適合你們回答，你們其實如何評價Idealliance的價值和技術支援。我珍惜與Idealliance大灣區辦事處和香港印藝學會的關係，我甚至希望我們在很多年前已經開始了這種合作關係。我很難單單以文字表達我對你們每個人的感謝。 你們每個人的工作魄力都讓我讚嘆，這些都與Idealliance HQ的理念完美契合，我堅信相似之處就是我們能夠共同奮鬥的原因。你們在該地區所做的工作超出了我們的期望，而這些成果將會持續成長。蔡榮照先生(Dicky Choy)擁有非凡的領導才能及熱誠，他不僅深愛並關心印藝行業，而且深深地愛護並關心其中的每個人，這些都顯示了他對行業的不懈支持。我甚至不知道他何時真正入睡，至少我認為他每個晚上都為不同活動奔波。最重要的是，他像世界各地的Idealliance所有人一樣，一直為印刷同業打氣，同時為Idealliance提供支持，他是印刷行業不可多得的驅動者。我珍視蔡先生、他的員工和我們的合作關係。
Baechle：BrandQ®計劃已在全球範圍內發展迅猛，它最初是認證計劃，後來發展為全球ISO審核計劃。我們從進行公共培訓，發展至與世界上最大的品牌和公司進行私人培訓。BrandQ®的服務在世界各地每個月都在增長，也在全球範圍內不斷傳播，世界某些地區每天都在實施BrandQ®，並且我們提供的培訓都是全球性一致的。 我們計劃在2020年為印度、東南亞、中東、中國和美國提供更多可靠的服務。 我們對BrandQ®認證感到興奮，因為它確實涵蓋了整個供應鏈，並真正惠及了品牌的發展和不同的創意人才。