Thursday, October 3, 2013


emerge as the most widely acceptable strategy, set through specifications. Standards are conceived to generate a controlled response. Standards relate to specifications for making, maintaining, using and disposing objects, and mechanics of creation, handling, operations and management. Standards as the most widely acceptable strategy, could emerge from empathy or as a strategic understanding between two or more persons. Standards' formation is a raison d’etre for (reason for being) member of clan or society. Governments gain political power and patronage by administering standards. Regional blocks and International communities achieve efficiency by preventing conflict and duplication of effort through standards. Standards, very effectively and economically raise the levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and commutability.


Standards are expected to achieve predictable results, by voluntary concurrence, obligation, or through enforcement. Standards are very powerful means to cause a change or even maintain status-quo. The nature of Application of Standards takes many different forms with varying levels of credibility. Acceptance of standards if voluntary ensues a social respect or some form of elite status. The enforcement also may occur with social boycott, penalty or punishment.

    ▪ Compulsory and Legal:             Such as laws, rules

    ▪ Obligatory and Quasi Legal:     Such as directives, policies

    ▪ Obnoxious or Evil:                   Such as decrees, mandates

    ▪ Necessities:                              Such as compulsions, obligations

    ▪ Traditional and Esteemed:        Such as customs, traditions, taboos

    ▪ Provisions:                               Such as, recommendations


Standards emerge at many different levels. At basic level these are very widely acceptable strategies. But at higher level, a person, an organization or a government department must strive for greater universal participation. Such an active role in the society occurs as a quest for quality for all aspects of being. The quest for quality is reflected through: desire to excel, readiness for improvisation, steadfastness to good practices, transparency in dealings,  persistence for consistency, wider application.

  • Personal standards: Standards at a very primary level are compiled by a Person, as a 'collection of bests', 'most favoured or representative items' or 'my suggestion'. Since these are carefully picked out items, represent a Quality Conscience of the Author, and so are personal standards. Personal Standards are valued for the author's mastery over the subject, rather, then the absolute quality of the included material. Personal standards combined with personal norms for enforcement are often tyrannical. Specifications that establish personal standards describe entities' physical characteristics, but rarely provide the ways and means (processes) of achieving or even testing it. Typical examples of personal standards are: Time saver standards for architecture and interior design, Furniture or item catalogues, Special issues of periodicals, etc. 
  •  Standards as a strategic understanding: Standards can be a strategic understanding, among the competitors or between the associates to manage a situation such as: reduce the rivalry, rationalise the methods of production, reduce the costs, enhance the image of the product, form a cartel to ward off the non-members etc. Such standards also emerge without any distinct effort, as 'followers of the same path', empathetically  sustain similar actions. A work-culture or faith comradery develops among the practitioners.
  • Standards of clan or cast: Members of clan or cast can have a tacit or formal understanding for acting in unison. Such understandings are of usually negative dictates and are very restrictive. These understandings or standards sustain the livelihood by protecting the exclusive or patent knowhow, and by regulating the competition among the members. The standards are more of the norms for behavioural and less of technological specifications. Clans and casts flourish by acting in consonance with the Rulers or Government. Which, inturn enhances their governance by politically acknowledging such practices. Over a period of time the divergent policies and directives of the clans get rationalised as the Code of Conduct. Such Codes relate to personal behaviour, formation and conduct of commercial activities, use of resources including the environment, safety measures, risks management, manufacturing, handling and disposing of the materials, and trade practices relating to weights, measures, economic transactions, employment, etc.
  • Virtual standards: Some major Consumers, Government departments like defence, because of vast scales of their operations, are prolific creators of specifications, and their needs become virtual standards. These agencies can afford to operate testing facilities for the purchases, and have enough supervision expertise for rationalizing the work procedures.
  • In India, Railways and Public works departments are some of the agencies that dominate the realm of commercial activities. Whatever is consumed by them become the commercially the most viable item. In USA the Government (mainly in defence establishments) allows specifications to be only performance oriented. These are Standards by Preference and Prevalence and are, a commercial reality.
  • National standards: Specifications have strong indigenous origin, because materials and human skills, both have strong local character and advantage. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in India, and National Standards agencies in many countries of the world, operate as a Standards Formulating, Licensing, and Enforcing-agency. Whereas some governments like USA, act only as a Facilitating agency, encouraging the trade organizations and technical associations to take the lead in not only developing standards, but for their enforcement.

  • Governments during the later part of 20th century found it easier to frame laws that are parallel to standards. In many small countries, standards for only very urgent and acute requirements are prepared, as integral part of the legislation. ‘Formulation of Standards' and Legislation is considered to be the same.
  • International standards: National standards are very indigenous, designed to serve the national interests. The national protectionist interests are served by restrictive or negative specifications. National standards cover only the exigent needs of the nation, so do not serve the interests of regional economic activities. When materials and human resources are transected across nations, a need for a wider application of specifications makes Nations come together to create a Charter of Regional or International Conduct. A world level Organization was needed to coordinate the standards’ activities of many Nations and Commercial Organizations. International Standards Organization (ISO -1947), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC -1906) in 1906 and the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA -1926-1942), are some such International agencies.
  • International Standards have no Legislative Support or Enforcement backing of a Government. International Standards work on Voluntary Corroboration. Such standards flourish on the realization that greater advantages are earned by following it, rather then not being part of it. Success of International Standards depends on the Rational Confirmation and Wider Acceptance.

  • Standards -from series Interior Design Practice and Office Management - II

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