What’s our standard?

I’m not really obsessed with standards, honestly – it’s just that I find them such a valuable tool when trying to pull almost any kind of system together. A while ago I came up with a framework for creating and using standards, and I’m amazed at how well it has stood the test of time. And the surprising thing is that it’s not just restricted to computing systems, it seems to work for virtually anything you might want to create a standard for.

However it is you want to create and present standards, I find they serve three basic purposes:

  • Define
  • Convey
  • Agree

The common purpose of standards is to get down on a peice of paper what you consider the definition to be. This could be a value, a limit, a logical evaluation, any kind of statement that enables you to say “yes that meets the standard!” or “nope, sorry, not good enough”

Of course the motive for wanting to write it down in the first place is that you want to let others know what your definition is. You know what meets the standard and what doesn’t, but how do you convey this to other people – how do you let them know what is acceptable and what is not?

And of course the thing that actually makes it a standard is the fact that everybody agrees that’s what it is. Ok, maybe the first time you try to define it, there’l be someone who is not quite happy that you have covered everything, so you can qualify your definition further, coming up with a more detailed and precise definition that everybody is happy about. And once you have that acknowledgement or sign-off, then you know you have a standard that is valuable to anyone who might be interested.

Three simple steps, that seem almost too simple, but they work well for any kind of standard you might care to define (and convey to people, and get agreement on, of course) 😉


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