Standards Enable Collaboration

I gave a talk for STC France this morning in Paris. It was early but folks turned out and there was coffee and croissant and some good discussion. I was talking about The Digital Deca. The Digital Deca are ten management truths that I am putting forward for consideration—ten things that organizations need to be aware of in order to remain viable in a web-enabled world.

While all of the points are important, my favorite Digital Deca truth is number five: “Standards Enable Collaboration.”

When we work with organizations and start talking about standards, frequently internal business units and divisions seize up. All organizational sub-entities believe that they have a unique value proposition and so, therefore, believe that they should not be forced to follow web standards that emanate from a centralized corporate web team. This is almost a universal sentiment. I’ve done nothing for the last 15 years but stand in the middle of corporate web teams and analyze their dynamics. Everyone thinks they are the exception—the ones that don’t need to follow the rules.  But I have yet to see an organization whose web presence would not improve drastically with the definition, implementation, and enforcement of corporate web standards.

The reality is that most organizations can no longer afford not to have web standards. You’ll never be able to get your web presence from the mess it is today to the well-oiled, task-centered, commerce, operational, information dissemination machine you require without the expression and use of standards. And that type of web presence requires serious organizational collaboration around information structure and organization—and, well, standards enable collaboration--by normalizing what needs to be normalized in order share data, information and technologies across business silos.

So, I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts to consider:

Thought One - The World Wide Web is one big collaboration. The reason the Web works in the first place is because of standards. It’s easy to forget as a new generation enters the web profession.Those in business who were relatively earlier adopters of the Web remember the pre-WYSIWYG tool years.  We had to make frequent visits to the World Wide Web Consortium site to figure out how to properly structure an HTML document so it would render in the browser.  For those who work in the online profession, standards are our roots.

Thought Two - Don’t confuse freedom of expression with freedom from standards. Any part of an organization may have a unique online message or goal (what the words say, what the pictures look like, the tasks to be completed), but how that unique expression gets integrated with the rest of the web presence ought to happen within a standards-based framework so that online organizational synergies can be created and new business opportunities found online.

Also, for your consideration, here are all 10 truths:

  1. Your Web presence is the digital manifestation of your organization
  2. In a digitally transforming business environment, bold leadership is vital
  3. Decision-making must be based upon expertise, not power
  4. The business framework must be inclusive
  5. Standards enable collaboration
  6. The Web is an asset
  7. The organization owns its Web presence
  8. Management should embrace impermanence
  9. Know your customer but own your mission
  10. Measure twice, execute once

And the full presentation on the Digital Deca...

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Hi Lisa,

Nice to have met you this morning at the STC conference. That was really a good presentation and I appreciated your sense of getting straight to the right points.

I am now following you on twitter and hope to meet you again!


Great post. "Everyone thinks they are the exception." So true! A wild west mish mash does not result in a cohesive presence. It takes standards & discipline.

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