The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) is deploying a holistic system to monitor the world's ocean; however, a major challenge is many regions are chronically under-sampled. One such region is the Southern Ocean, which is remote and a harsh region to sample. The importance of improving holistic sampling in this region is clear, given its disproportionate significance to Earth and the fact that the area is exhibiting rapid change. As the Southern Ocean is beyond the capability of any single nation, the international Southern Ocean research community recognized a need for improved international coordination, strategic planning, and eventual implementation of a Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS). The focus of SOOS is on (1) designing a sustainable system that provides data for determining the status and change of the Southern Ocean, (2) standardizing measurements across national efforts, (3) providing a forum for opportunities to guide future investments, (4) developing a portal for open transparent access to data, and (5) supporting grassroots discussion to identify/design expeditions and technology development. This manuscript highlights current SOOS strategies to meet those needs. Critical lessons emphasize the need for providing value to users who are contributing content/strategy as volunteers and sustain a dedicated office to coordinate those efforts while providing documented value to those contributing time and expertise.