When you get involved in developing and promoting data standards, you have many conversations around implementation. How can you help people use the standards? How can you ensure they start getting the business benefits of standards as quickly and thoroughly as possible? How can you spread the news?
Unless they have a short-term proprietary advantage in mind, most people accept the value of standards – intellectually. Embracing standards emotionally is a little tougher. What is there to love about a set of templates? Few of us love order for its own sake: and those who do may not have the best business instincts.
We need emotional engagement with standards if we're to achieve wide and rigorous implementation. Intellectual agreement and goodwill on their own don't make things happen. The key to emotional engagement with standards is not to focus on the inherent qualities of a standard, but on the better world that standards help to bring about.
It's my belief that no one should begin a career, or start a project, or take responsibility for a business area, that isn't founded on solid in-place standards. Foundation standards should be present and obvious in every field of endeavor. Absence of such standards must be seen as anomalous, wayward and unsupportable.
So, my approach to promoting full implementation of standards is to focus on the value of the goal, not the pleasures and hardships of the journey. Creating a standards-founded world – a world where everyone expects to work on a solid base of standards – isn't easy. Like most things that represent real progress, it's going to take time and effort.
It's not unlike having a clean water
supply, or a trustworthy currency. If your people can rely on water and money
that aren't going to poison or bankrupt them, they can do so much more with their
lives. Similarly, if the people in your organization don't have to spend hours
every day fetching dirty data from a distant well, they can get on with
building the business. If they can trade data among themselves, with partners
and with customers, knowing the data will always retain its value, then they
can build greater knowledge, have better conversations, and develop more
profitable relationships. Let's declare standards to be a right, not
a privilege. Can you imagine a world without them? Impossible.