Column: World View: How to find the correct balance between standardization and differentiation.

Abstract:[Abstract from article]

For system and management standards such as the ISO 9000 series, even more than for product standards, a correct balance between standardization and differentiation is important for the benefit of the free market. The value added by having a standard - -a concept that implies stability -- in a fast moving area is questionable. Standards (international ones in particular) always limit companies' freedom. If it is true that quality has two dimensions--rigor in pursuing planned objectives and creativity in spotting new values--then the tools that are used should allow growth in both dimensions. Standards are fundamental for the first dimension; they are not the best choice for the …

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