Yep, standards are designed to stifle creativity and turn everybody into mindless drones. They're the zombies of IT. Does the dollar cramp your style? Try bartering a goat for a coat next time you're at the mall, and see how far you get. How about the English language – that's a real straitjacket. Instead of just making random sounds, people want you to use words they recognize. Incredible.
In the case of information technology, what “style” is it standards might be cramping, exactly? Are we talking about the freedom of a developer to unnecessarily write code from scratch? The freedom of an integrator to demand users of other systems reprogram theirs to work with his new, cubist-style data format?
Creativity in the engineering disciplines needs to be directed to architectures, tools and techniques – not basic materials or fundamental forces. By all means, innovate to build me a more beautiful road bridge that lasts longer and costs less, but not one which sways in the wind. Software engineers: you're expected to use the building blocks provided, not chisel your own.
But no – the IT folks have been put in their box. It's the style of the business that might get cramped. We can't betray the uniqueness of our business by forcing it to conform to a standard which comes, frankly, from someplace else. Who do you think we are?
This is the nub of the matter. Some people in some organizations haven't noticed that what's unique about their business is a rare quality within the business. It's not the whole business. It's the secret sauce, or the rating model, or the logistics chain, or the brand, or the patent, or the boss, or the receptionist. You want to be locating and strengthening your real value-adds. Everything else, you can – and must – standardize.
Standards don't cramp your style. They underwrite your ability to have a style.