Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

This post is authored by Jim Keaveney, president of ISA 2016.

We just finished our Fall Leaders Meeting (FLM) and it was so invigorating spending time with our dedicated volunteer leadership teams.  There was record attendance, many new faces, and an outstanding Honors & Awards Gala event.  The Leaders Meeting Planning Committee developed a strong program that offered many opportunities to hone our ISA and work-related leadership skills.

I picked the song, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” to kick off our opening session.  I have never been so sure that we are on the right path to fulfill our mission and to create a new, “One ISA.”

We have fine-tuned our strategic planning process, which partners Executive Board Goal Champions with our staff leads to help develop the proper metrics and messaging.  We also developed an evaluation tool to help us pinpoint which initiatives are no longer providing the desired value so that we can better invest in the future. Strategic Planning is also working with staff to develop information dashboards to help our volunteer leaders improve their performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

Make no doubt, there will be some bumps and wrong turns along this path, but we are creating a continuous improvement culture that sets a framework for sustainable growth and relevance.

The FLM was also a time to recognize volunteer and industry leaders.  It was humbling to meet the honorees who have done so much for our industry and profession.  It is you who contribute so much of your own time and talent to develop high-value ISA content, including standards and best practices.  It is you who develop our training and certification programs and it is you who help create first-class symposia events.  As an automation professional and consumer of many of the “products” ISA offers, I will always be grateful. Thank you for all you do for ISA and our great profession.

I’m going to continue my call for producing the next generation of ISA leaders. The Society needs you. We just completed our election cycle and are fortunate to have a great slate of leaders and contributors for 2017. But we need to build on this progress and do even better.  Many of the positions were uncontested and one had no candidates at all.

Moreover, there were only three candidates outside of North America and there were no women.  Granted, we do have a fairly senior group and that brings welcome experience and expertise.  The quality of our incoming officers reflects that.  However, the longer-term challenge of leadership development remains a significant one. Our Board needs to stay focused on positioning the Society for future success and relevance. If we want to become more global and reach out to younger and more diverse automation professionals, we have to find a way to attract these groups to the discussion table and to our association as a whole.

Verna Myers, principal of Verna Myers Consulting, offers some great insight.  She uses the phase, “how to go from well-meaning to well doing.”  Think about that one for a few moments.  We often say that we create an inclusive environment, but is that really enough?  Verna notes that diversity often connotes quantity, but inclusion is about quality.  Stated another way, she states that diversity is being asked to the party while inclusion is being asked to dance.

It’s not about quotas, being politically correct, or a sole focus on race and gender.  It’s about creating good business processes that actively engage all professionals of diverse and productive perspectives.  This can be uncomfortable, but almost always yields better decisions and results. Groupthink is easier and enticing, but it will ultimately hold us back as an association.

I would also like to remind each of you that we have set up an e-mail address – facestowatch@isa.org – to receive suggestions on potential ISA leaders.  Please contact me at President@isa.org to offer your suggestions, or to join the team. Better yet – let me know if you want to dance.

About the Author

Jim KeaveneyJim Keaveney is northeast regional manager and key account director at Emerson Process Management. He brings a strong track record in automation technologies sales and marketing and business planning to his role as Society president. Jim has been an active ISA member for more than 30 years and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Society treasurer, finance committee chair and District 2 vice president. He has received numerous ISA honors, including the Distinguished Society, District 2 Golden Eagle and Lehigh Valley Section Dannenberg Service awards. He also received a Certificate in Instrumentation from the Philadelphia Section of ISA. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

The Leadership Challenge: Priming the Pump

The Leadership Challenge: Priming the Pump

This post is authored by Jim Keaveney, president of ISA 2016.

Last month I talked about the challenge of filling our volunteer leadership pipeline.  This is a multi-faceted challenge that includes the search, identification, and mentoring of potential new leaders.  Once we get volunteers to come forward, we need to figure out ways to help them become successful in their leadership roles.  This includes training on their specific ISA role and on general leadership as well as on succession planning.

If you think leading a team can be a challenge at work, just imagine being charged with leading a volunteer team. It brings to mind the EDS video about trying to herd cats.  The reality is that no one on volunteer teams really “works” for volunteer leaders; it’s all about indirect influence.

isa-leadership-challenge-priming-the-pump

Make no mistake, though. ISA is not alone.  Every volunteer association is faced with this same challenge.  Time is a precious commodity and we all get pulled in many different ways.  There is a perception that volunteer work requires a long-term commitment. It is up to us to find ways to change what we are asking volunteers to do and better promote the benefits of becoming a leader.  Clearly, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to attract potential leaders.  We need to design more appealing, manageable, and flexible commitment options, including those with shared leadership and responsibility roles.

We also need to provide the right technology and tools to make the commitment easier.  Today’s volunteers want immediate access to information and resources.  They also expect information in various formats.  Our younger members, for example, tend to be more entrepreneurial, more skeptical of bureaucratic structures, and more comfortable working alone or in virtual teams.  Each generation has differing expectations and we need to be more receptive and responsive to them.  This is no easy task for an association like ours, particularly in light of limited financial and support resources.  But, regardless, we absolutely need to offer innovative forms of engagement and new ways of connecting and contributing.

The good news is that the ISA Executive Board has recognized and accepted the challenge.  We have two task forces researching the critical issues involved and charged with providing recommendations.  Below is a brief update on their status. I’d appreciate any suggestions or feedback you may have.

The first task force — the Nominations & Recruitment Task Force (NRTF) chaired by former ISA President, Peggie Koon, Ph.D. — is focused on the following immediate deliverables:

  • New candidate and committee job descriptions
  • A Coaching and leadership Practices Survey (to gauge feedback among peers, staff, and others to whom leaders report)
  • A Leader “ISA Value Proposition” Survey (to gauge feedback from leaders)
  • Collaborating with the existing Officer Search Committee to support congruent initiatives

The ISA Executive Board, at the upcoming Fall Leaders Meeting, will consider approving:

  • A name change of the Officers Search Committee (OSC) to the Leadership Search & Oversight Committee (LSOC)
  • The NRTF’s final report, recommendations, funding and resources
  • The creation of a Leader Information Repository & Portal (developed by IT staff)
  • A subset of NRTF to continue to work with staff to implement the approved recommendations

The NRTF is also working with the existing OSC to ensure that any recommendations are supported and that they complement their efforts.  The NRTF is also soliciting feedback on their work from the Nominating Committee.

The second task force — the Leadership Training Task Force (LTTF) chaired by ISA’s Professional Development Department Vice-President, Jim Garrison—is working with various functional segments of our association to develop training modules relating to ISA-specific volunteer leader roles.  The LTTF is also evaluating general leadership skills training.

It will be important to decide how much training should we develop in house and how much training that’s currently available in the marketplace should be customized to our specific needs.

There is little doubt that online training is the wave of the future. ISA has already made available valuable leader training modules on the Leader Training section of our website. While new seminars are currently in development and will be added once complete, you can now take the following modules:

In closing, I would like to highlight some of the great leadership training sessions that we’ll be offering at our Fall Leaders Meeting in Newport Beach, California from 24-26 September. The insights and information received at these sessions are sure to help you in both your ISA and daytime job roles.

  • “Team Performance and Indirect Influence – Influencing Others to Achieve Results” – Bill Bowden (Emerson)
  • “Ask Me to Dance – A Perspective from a Woman in the Automation Industry” – Colleen M. Layman, E. (HDR and FY16 Society of Women Engineers President)
  • “New Kids on the I/O Block” – Danaca Jordan (Eastman Chemical and 2016 ISA Executive Board Member)
  • “How Divisions Can Help Your Career” – Graham Nasby (Industries and Sciences VP-Elect)
  • “Using LinkedIn to its Fullest Advantage” – Shari Worthington (Telesian and ISA Publications Department VP) and Nicole Jensen (Samson Controls and ISA Professional Development Department VP-Elect)
  • “Your ISA Career Path” – Jim Garrison (aeSolutions and ISA Professional Development Department VP) and Nicole Jensen (Samson Controls and ISA Professional Development Department VP-Elect)

I also want to remind each of you that we have set up an e-mail address — facestowatch@isa.org — to receive potential leader suggestions.  We need your help to make ISA the first and one stop for all automation professionals! Please contact me at President@isa.org  to offer your suggestions or to join the team.

About the Author

Jim KeaveneyJim Keaveney is northeast regional manager and key account director at Emerson Process Management. He brings a strong track record in automation technologies sales and marketing and business planning to his role as Society president. Jim has been an active ISA member for more than 30 years and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Society treasurer, finance committee chair and District 2 vice president. He has received numerous ISA honors, including the Distinguished Society, District 2 Golden Eagle and Lehigh Valley Section Dannenberg Service awards. He also received a Certificate in Instrumentation from the Philadelphia Section of ISA. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
Connect with Jim:
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

The Decision to Volunteer: The Why, How, and a Personal Call to Action

The Decision to Volunteer: The Why, How, and a Personal Call to Action

This post is authored by Jim Keaveney, president of ISA 2016.

In their book, The Decision to Volunteer: Why People Give Their Time and How You Can Engage Them, Beth Gazley and Monica Dignam used research on associations to better understand why members volunteer for professional societies such as ISA.  Their research indicated that volunteers contribute their time for both altruistic (other-serving) and instrumental (self-serving) reasons.  Common reasons included: a desire for greater personal responsibility, a desire to make a difference, a need for affiliation, a desire to meet new people, a desire to learn new skills, and a desire for a new challenge.

volunteer-create-ISA-leaders

There’s also a natural tendency to volunteer in areas most familiar to us, whether it’s within our professional arena, our community, or our church. Think back about a time when you “put up your hand” to help out and I’ll bet that it was because of at least one of the reasons cited in the research above.  The reasons for my ISA volunteerism have changed a bit over time.  It started because of the need for affiliation and the associated benefits of networking.

As time progressed, it also became about developing new leadership skills and tackling the challenges of indirect influence.  In my volunteer efforts today, I’m motivated to make a real, positive difference for both ISA and our profession.  Through the years, I have seen and actively made the connection between my volunteerism and my career development. I also made sure that my management recognized the connection and its value to me as a professional.

Become involved

Now think about how you became a volunteer. Perhaps you proactively offered your time and talent. Or maybe you were asked by a friend or colleague to contribute.  I became involved in ISA through the latter.  I can still vividly recall when two of our section officers asked me to accept the position as newsletter editor.  As I was fresh in my career, I was quite honored and viewed the invitation as a great opportunity.  Things just seemed to take off from there. I also remember when two former district vice presidents approached me to consider serving as District 2 vice president and when the Society Investment Committee Chair asked me become a member.  Little did I know that saying “yes” would eventually lead to many other Society positions and eventually being asked to run for ISA president.

Hopefully, you’ll recall that one of ISA’s priorities for this year is building our leadership pipeline — identifying, recruiting, mentoring, and training future ISA leaders.  However, when we take the direct route and ask members to volunteer, we need to do so thoughtfully.  This starts with matching the right skill sets to available roles and ensuring that prospective volunteers fully understand the positions and their expectations.  For volunteer experiences to be meaningful and rewarding, they need to be people-driven rather than position-driven. The Putting-a-Butt-in-a-Chair (BIC) route might fill a vacancy, but it’s not in the best interest of the volunteer or the organization. We also should focus more on addressing shorter-term project needs so members can explore and get a feel for different opportunities and not feel they’re locked in to “lifetime” commitments.

It’s also important to recognize that the level of volunteer involvement often varies to where people are in their careers and personal lives. A “no thanks” could mean “not ever,” or it could mean “just not right now.” The type of involvement can differ among members, too. We’ve learned that younger members see less value in traditional networking and training venues but place a greater value in altruistic endeavors ventures. ISA needs to create an environment that makes it easier and more compelling to join teams focused on making real contributions.

Volunteer initiatives

To address these realities and meet these challenges, we have created two teams (task forces) that have the important role of reviewing and hopefully making a positive impact on our leadership pipeline.  One task force, chaired by former ISA President Peggie Koon, is focused on our recruitment and nomination process.  The other task force, chaired by Professional Development Chair Jim Garrison, is identifying improvement opportunities for training new leaders, both in terms of their ISA-specific roles as well as general leadership skills. Both teams are meeting regularly and I’ll be reporting back on their progress next month.

Meanwhile, we need your help to identify new potential leaders. You could well be one or you may have someone to recommend. It would then be up to us to align interests and skills sets to ISA positions. This might also involve some targeted training or mentoring. We need to “walk the talk” by being willing to invest in high-potential volunteers and help ensure that their employers and families see the benefit of their time commitments.

Your CTA

So here is my personal call to action for you. We have set up an e-mail address — facestowatch@isa.org — for receiving potential leader suggestions. I’m encouraging you to carefully consider making a recommendation or raising your own hand.  Together, we can help build a brighter future for ISA — not just in the months ahead but in the generations to come.  If we are able to make progress, we are assured of making the world a better place.

Please contact me at President@isa.org  to offer your suggestions or if you want to learn more about joining Team ISA.

About the Author

Jim KeaveneyJim Keaveney is northeast regional manager and key account director at Emerson Process Management. He brings a strong track record in automation technologies sales and marketing and business planning to his role as Society president. Jim has been an active ISA member for more than 30 years and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Society treasurer, finance committee chair and District 2 vice president. He has received numerous ISA honors, including the Distinguished Society, District 2 Golden Eagle and Lehigh Valley Section Dannenberg Service awards. He also received a Certificate in Instrumentation from the Philadelphia Section of ISA. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
Connect with Jim:
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

How Can ISA Best Meet My Needs?

How Can ISA Best Meet My Needs?

This post is authored by Jim Keaveney, president of ISA 2016.

How can ISA help me?  This is a question we hear from automation professionals, members, and volunteer leaders.  As a section leader, it is a question that I have also asked in the hope of helping me better perform my volunteer role.  There is no simple one-line answer, but let me provide a few common examples in the context of some of our strategic goals.

For most of us, ISA’s core value lies in its content (Strategic Goal #1). Providing high-quality technical content to members and customers is fundamental to ISA’s mission. This content needs to be available when we want it and how we want it.  It is why most of join ISA and why we stay engaged.

benefits-isa-membership

To a great extent, we derive our content from our standards. Did you know that ISA’s has more than 150 automation standards and technical reports — developed by more than 4,000 industry subject matter experts throughout the world?  ISA members can view most of our standards at no cost.

Another benefit related to standards is training. This is the “P” part of Standards & Practices (S&P).  ISA’s expert-led training, best-practice forums, and certification and certificate programs optimize the real-world application of our standards and improve industry-wide safety, efficiency, and profitability. ISA training can be accessed online or in traditional classroom settings at one of the Society’s 10 training locations in North America and through our European office located in the Netherlands. With more than 115 courses offered through the rest of this year alone, you should discuss with your manager the benefits of enrolling in one of these courses or consider making the investment yourself.

Among automation companies and manufacturers, a primary concern is workforce development — accessing the next generation of young workers with the competencies and know-how to drive future growth and competitiveness. ISA members need to make our employers and managers more aware of how ISA can supplement their automation training programs. ISA can discuss options for needs assessment, customized training and ongoing knowledge verification and testing.  It would a plus if you could help initiate or pave the way for these type of opportunities within your companies. This way, you can “help us help you” and your employer.

From a section leader perspective, ISA’s high-value technical content can enhance local programs in several important ways. One is through section-sponsored training.  With 29 single-day course offerings, ISA can help promote and provide member-requested training for local section members.  Courses require collaboration between the sections and ISA staff so sections need to appoint a coordinator.  In addition to delivering great training, sections are rewarded through ISA’s revenue-sharing incentive program.

To enhance the value of section meetings, presentations and roundtable discussions based on ISA standards, training capabilities, and certification and certificate programs are great places to start.

How we obtain and share information may have changed from when many of us first joined ISA but sections remain convenient, accessible avenues for providing unique value through networking, training, and exchange of best practices.  Our Geographic Assembly also has initiated a Speakers Bureau for section and division leaders.  This resource is a work in process, but please share your speaker and topic references to your fellow leaders so they can consider opportunities for their meetings.  This is a way for you to “help each other.”

From a division perspective, ISA currently supports 17 divisions and three Technical Interest Groups (TIGs). Seven divisions conduct annual symposiums, which furnish leading, market-specific content and outstanding networking opportunities.  I was fortunate to attend this year’s Food & Pharmaceutical Industries Division (FPID) and Power Industries Division (POWID) meetings and both were world-class events, showcasing ISA at its very best.  Their success was possible due to the many contributions of end users, division and local leaders, ISA staff, and our automation supplier sponsors.  You and your manager should consider supporting the ISA technical symposium that best targets the needs and expectations of your customers and partners. Get involved in developing a conference program, workshop or activity; better yet, consider presenting a paper at one of these events.

Finding the information you need on any website is not always an intuitive process. But if you spend some time on the ISA website, you’re sure to find something of interest. If you are a volunteer leader, I would encourage you to explore the ISA Members and Leaders link under the Resources tab.  You’ll especially want to check out the options under the Operating Documents link. There is a lot of great information about specific volunteer leader role descriptions and expectations.

ISA’s Data goal (Strategic Goal #2) is all about ISA becoming a more market- and data-driven association.  This means that we are developing and delivering content that industry wants and values.  For section leaders, we can provide some granularity into your local membership, such as identifying members’ specific division activities and memberships.  Did you know that your ISA dues provides for two free memberships in our technical divisions — one within the Automation and Technology Department and one within the Industries & Sciences Department?  Thanks to our division symposia, there is quite a bit of divisional content that can help with programming and attracting greater member and volunteer participation. We certainly need to explore ways to better leverage our division and section content and activities.

Our Coolest Delivery goal (Strategic Goal #3) focuses on our ability to deliver great content via multiple platforms in an engaging, easy-to-use, and interactive way.  Some of these resources, such as a tool for self-assessment of automation skills, are still being developed. But many more are either available now or will be available shortly. We recently developed interactive gaming simulations that are used in several of our courses and a Loop Signal & PV calculation app that is in the final stages of testing.  And let’s not forget our InTech Plus app available on Apple iOS and Android platforms.  It’s interactive, intuitive, fresh, and fun. From the latest technology news and ‘how-to’ videos featuring ISA subject matter experts to Q&As, quizzes and calculators, this mobile app delivers added value to automation professionals on the go.  We have only had about 3,000 downloads so far, which means that there are many of you that are missing out on this great new tool.  Why the wait??

Another area to check out on the ISA website is the Videos link under the Technical Topics tab.  These videos are grouped by ISA Leadership, Basic and Advanced Technical, Conference and Events, ISA Training and Certification, and How-to and Career videos.  We are also is the process of updating our Leadership Development training so please be sure to check back and let me know what you think.  We might not be “way cool” just yet, but we are diligently working on it.

So, what are we missing in terms of benefits, tools or collateral to help you get the full value out of your ISA membership or to be more successful or gain greater enjoyment out of your volunteer leadership role? Also, why did you join ISA and what keeps you coming back?  Please contact me at President@isa.org

About the Author

Jim KeaveneyJim Keaveney is northeast regional manager and key account director at Emerson Process Management. He brings a strong track record in automation technologies sales and marketing and business planning to his role as Society president. Jim has been an active ISA member for more than 30 years and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Society treasurer, finance committee chair and District 2 vice president. He has received numerous ISA honors, including the Distinguished Society, District 2 Golden Eagle and Lehigh Valley Section Dannenberg Service awards. He also received a Certificate in Instrumentation from the Philadelphia Section of ISA. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
Connect with Jim:
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

Why Do Automation Professionals Join ISA?

Why Do Automation Professionals Join ISA?

This post is authored by Jim Keaveney, president of ISA 2016.

Now that we have discussed our five strategic goals (Content, Data, Coolest Delivery, Cybersecurity, and Advocacy) and our additional focus areas for 2016 (Alignment, Leadership , Globalization and Voice of the Customer), our front line volunteer leaders and collective members are all thinking the same thing:  What’s in it for me (WIFM)?  Depending on the answer, you might just keep listening, start dancing, or change the channel.

I will admit that there is no magic bullet or slogan that will do the trick. There is no perfect or universal answer.  I can only share my own story and hopefully it will resonate with you so that you stay highly engaged with ISA.  There are three things that prompted me to join, become actively involved, and, yes, to do a dance every now and then: training, networking, and mentoring. Let’s take a closer look at these.

Training

Like most of you, my formal education did not include much in the way of automation or process controls.  I also come from the supplier side of our profession so my automation education has come about through factory training, start-up experiences, field support, and by working with clients.

My local ISA section provided additional training through some great technical topic instruction and classes.  Classes primarily covered the basic measurements (pressure, flow, temperature, level), communications, and unit operations (chemical plant operations, distillation).  Along the way, I invested in my own ISA library of about 50 books on various topics. These publications have helped me to better understand process controls and become a better, more informed resource to both my clients and my employer.

As a section, district and now Society officer, ISA also has provided me with some excellent leadership training, both formal as well as “on the job.” Holding leadership positions in a volunteer organization has taught me much about indirect influence, team dynamics, meeting facilitation, and motivation. The experiences, insights, and skills I have gained have made me a better peer and supervisor—both within ISA as well as in my career.  Along the way, I have tried to make sure my company understands the value of my Society involvement and leadership training so that it would continue to support and encourage my ISA engagement. Without question, ISA training has made a very positive impact on my career.

Networking

All the classes, meetings, and conferences I’ve attended have provided me with the opportunity to cultivate a strong and extensive personal and professional network. When faced with a particularly challenging technical or business issue, I’ve been able to draw upon my network of ISA Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and friends who share their wisdom and provide valuable guidance. ISA also has provided me with the opportunity to meet some of the authors of the important books I’ve read. Some of these interactions have occurred online as well as face to face.

I’m not sure you can put a price on having a strong network of friends and colleagues. For me, these connections have been invaluable. Networking through my ISA membership is another arrow in my professional quiver that has, I believe, made me a better automation professional and manager. My ability to tap into my ISA network is something my management has also recognized.

Mentoring

Networking has also helped to provide an entry point to mentorship. I have been blessed that several senior ISA leaders graciously serve as personal mentors.  The dictionary defines a mentor as “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.”   Through feedback and self-assessment, we all can point to areas that need improvement—which is important whether we seek career advancement or just want to become better at what we do. There is rarely a week that goes by that I do not have some contact with one of my mentors and I have ISA to thank for this gift.

There is no doubt that the more you put into a volunteer organization, the more you’ll benefit. It will, however, require that you be both persistent and proactive.  For me, ISA training, networking, and mentoring have more than answered my own WIFM question.  I’m not going to change that channel.

Next month, I plan to drill down into how the Society’s strategic planning process and goals can help our section leaders and members.  Meanwhile, I’d be curious why you tuned in and what got you hooked on ISA and what we can do to make your membership experience more rewarding.  Please contact me at President@isa.org. I’m eager to hear from you.

About the Author

Jim KeaveneyJim Keaveney is northeast regional manager and key account director at Emerson Process Management. He brings a strong track record in automation technologies sales and marketing and business planning to his role as Society president. Jim has been an active ISA member for more than 30 years and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Society treasurer, finance committee chair and District 2 vice president. He has received numerous ISA honors, including the Distinguished Society, District 2 Golden Eagle and Lehigh Valley Section Dannenberg Service awards. He also received a Certificate in Instrumentation from the Philadelphia Section of ISA. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
Connect with Jim:
48x48-linkedin Twitter48x48-email

 

A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

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