Standard (2)

I wrote this morning about the concept of standardisation – how this helps people navigate their environment; learn how to travel on one underground system and you can be sure that you will be fairly consistent globally with the ways the trains run, the lines intersect and so on.

That is cool.

It is a step-up to uniformity; Babel-fish meets systems and process.

There is however a downside to this which you most likely see around teenagers; the drive for sameness risks creating carbon copies of the young, imagine Midwich Cuckoo gone mainstream where the peer-pressure is so great that everyone stands in line, no one straggles, gets ahead or falls behind.

It is fine that people aren’t left stranded, that the pack doesn’t run off and abandon the weakest, yet, what if there are those who see things differently, who want to strike-out, if they are constrained?

Standardisation has a crisis when it encounters individuality and this, I suspect is the most likely consequence of imposition of a norm. Where people evolve organically to walk in step that is OK – when you have to hobble some and hurry-along others to create orderliness, that isn’t.

I don’t have an answer to this, beyond the reality which demonstrates such a high level of variation that it is more akin to laying a carpet over the furniture than taking time to clear the room, lay the flooring then return the table and chairs to their original place.

I described it earlier as papering over the cracks, indeed, this doesn’t stop the house from falling apart, it doesn’t suggest strong foundations.

And it is the organic aspect that you can’t forget.

You can command an army to march in step but take away the sergeant-major and people soon fall out of line. Hospital wards, teams, work environments aren’t the military.

How do we achieve this?

The mechanism is co-creation.

It is through dialogue.

Involvement – and its bedfellow communication.

Impose rule and people rebel.

Communicate, explain, discuss, give and take and you find collaboration.

Teamwork, the only way to achieve meaningful human development at scale is the product of collaboration.

Little stick men and women running around with spears.

And following the collaboration, is a degree of flexibility.

‘I want to go left, I really believe if we walk left we will find the waterhole.’

You can impose rule; ‘No, we are going right, go left if you want but face our anger, beware our wrath!’

You can cede order, ‘Do what you want, I don’t care.’

Or, you can talk, listen, consider, ‘What makes you think that left is good? Haven’t we always gone right? Let’s talk about this.’

You don’t have to fall out over diversity of thought, you can remain in the same tribe, clan or class with variation, so long as there is a common understanding about the purpose of your effort.

We seek water, water keeps us alive, without water we are raisins.

That kind of thing.

‘Does going left help us achieve our commonly understood goal?’ If yes, let’s give it a try, no, then why?

Is this liberal social democracy?

I don’t know.

I don’t want to mix my improvement and sociological metaphors.

Suffice it to say, randomness works if you haven’t evolved beyond a certain level, after that, SatNav is best.


Please let me know what you think!

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