Standardization: Tactic or Strategy?



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Strategy > Best Practices > Standardization: Tactic or Strategy?

Standardization: Tactic or Strategy?
Goetjaer, Student (MBA), Netherlands, Member
Question, is standardization a strategy or a tactic and why?

Standardization is a Tool Within Strategy
R.D. van Rees, Project Manager, Netherlands, Member
Dear Goetjaer,
I can keep it real simple. A strategy is a tool you use to achieve a goal or multiple goals. Standardization is a tool within a strategy. Standardization is used to make monitoring of a process more easy and is often used by multinational enterprises because of their size.

Standardization: Tactic and Strategy
zarkaoui Rachid, ICT Consultant, France, Member
Standardization should be defined as consolidation of the best practices in a field. There is no standardization without capitalization of know-how. At the operational level, employees enrich the experience of the company or what we call the learning system.
- Standardization is a tactic: the organization learns when doing the business. It means errors are committed during its life. An error should not be repeated twice. Every mistake is a cost for the organization. In other words, it is a mean to reduce costs.
- Standardization is a strategy: standardization responds to a strategy of independency from employees. In this case, employees are the important resource of the company. A key employee can put pressure on the company when he has a rare skill. To be independent, the organization orders its employees to share the knowledge and even to feed the know-how system.

When to Avoid Standardisation
Harp Minhas
Standardisation within a business is surely to be avoided where it is not essential as it inhibits creativity and free thinking and encourges people to think in the "we have always done it this way" mentality rather than the "can we do it better and more efficiently" mentality?

Standardisation can be Dangerous
Max Pindo, Manager, France, Member
Standardisation is also a danger for managers who may wrongly believe (by extrapolation) that the company is ready to manage any possible event brought by real life.
Forcing people to use a not appropriate (but standard) process to a brand new issue is definitely easier but also a major methodological mistake that will lead to a disaster.

Standardisation Impedes Innovation
Harp Minhas
True and in these days of constant changes in the workplace, applying existing standards and procedures to new ideas and concepts inhibits the possibilities.
Managers also need to fully assess the potential of new ideas, products and concepts that are presented to them, but how do we do this within the existing frameworks and structures we all work in?

Deciding what is Really New
Max Pindo, Manager, France, Member
The point in "reactive mode" is: deciding what looks like a new reality: how can we tell if something is really new and if it needs an innovative approach to cope with?
I think this requires managers to be open-minded and use quite a lot of lateral thinking.
In "proactive mode" we can probably tell if what we propose (to the market for instance) is really new and if it can be standardized.

Standardization is a Recurring Strategy
Srikumar Varma, India, Member
Standardization is consolidation of the best practices in a field. The process of standardization is carried out after the least variable best process is selected. It should be used as a situational tool for a limited period of time, otherwise it would impede innovation, especially in the fast changing economical and business scenerio.
This means that standardization of a process should be allowed to change with the changes brought forth by the external factors on the business. Either the change should be allowed to implement the 'best fit' standardization process or should be taken to the next level through innovation and creativity.

Standardization is Suicidal
Zimin Andrew Alexander, преподаватель, консультант, Russian Federation, Member
Standardization = suicide, so it can't be strategy...

Innnovation based on Standardization
Ibrahima Diallo
Standardization should not be viewed as the antonym of innovation, or else you lose sight of its value and significance in the reduction of variability in our processes... The true cause of waste and inefficiency.
Of course we must innovate, but let's innovate from a standard that is acceptable to be the best practice and not from an unstandard, unacceptable, variable practice.
How do we know which practice is best, effective, and efficient, if we do not standardize?
So let's standardize first and innovate continuously from that point, a reference point, or a standard.

Pashupati Nath verma, Professor, India, Member
Depends on the objective of the standardization, long term or short term, strategic or tactical.

Standardization in Developing Countries
Mahmoud Khashab, CEO, Libya, Member
Standardization in developing countries is a strategy, because they are not real industrial nations yet. If these countries are looking forward to play global, part of their strategies would be standardization.
This is different in an industrial situation where standardization is a tool in a strategy.

Standardization is a Strategic Tactic
John Henry, Manager, United States, Member
Using old answers for new problems may not resolve the issues at hand (in the best way). But standardization has more uses. Establishing a standard toolset of solutions and established processes for established practices is a key strategic milestone. I would say key because then the innovation can be used to identify new situations and develop new processes to meet the new needs. Instead of killing innovation, we can focus innovation in the areas where it is most desperately needed, the new unknowns.
Experience is valuable, standardization of business process, and business toolsets becomes strategic because it relies on experience. Knowing that things may need to change, but also realizing that it is possible to reuse instead of reinvent, having a standard toolset of business processes allows many of the day to day operations to be managed efficiently.
Use creativity and innovation for new situations, markets and products, and let standards have a place so we innovate innovatively.

Standardisation is a Tactic and Strategy
Chaonamwene, Student (MBA), Malawi, Member
@Zarkaoui Rachid : I agree.
Standardisation is a process and standards are conceived as a body of codified information that enables the effective dissemination of technology through the economy. They are a form of embodied technical knowledge accessible to all types of business that enables more effective product and process development. They are regarded as a source of wisdom to the business and to the nation as a whole. Therefore I support it's a tactic and strategy.

Standardization Can Encourage Control of Processes
Ade, Supply chain Analyst, United Kingdom, Member
Standardisation can be used at different levels of strategic development to achieve organisational goals.
As some have commented, an organisation that has no control over its processes runs the risk of inconsistency with its employees.
On the other hand, a firm that is too rigid runs the risk of losing innovative employees.
A balance must be reached depending on the maturity stage and goals of the organisation. This also transcends to developing countries and developed countries.

Innovation and Standardization Priority Issues
NANG Theophile, Student (University), Cameroon, Member
Hi @Ibrahima Diallo, Standardization as starting point of innovative procedures is good in mind, but not always easy when it comes to implement. There are many cases were people are blocking innovation by claiming conformity to set standards. In other words, priority in some companies, generally in some multinational companies, is given to standards as a call to conformity. I suggest that the same room should be given to innovation.

Standardisation in Services Industries
Belay Gezahegn, Director, Ethiopia, Member
Standardisation confines employees to think in a certain way and prohibits to think differently. This might be true in manufacturing industries.
However, in banking industry or other service industries, standardisation might be a good strategy to enhance service delivery and customer service.
For instance corporate level standards for customer satisfaction may encourage employees to work towards this set of standards. Standardisation also encourages use of state of the art technology and introduction of new processes into service providing organisations.
So I think we need to see separately the challenges and opportunities of standardisation with respect to the type of industries we are referring to, i.e. whether it is in the manufacturing or services sector.


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