Standards vs. Guidelines and Does it Matter?

You are likelier to engage more colleagues and develop a culture of collaboration if you understand the difference between a standard and a guideline.

Kristina Podnar
March 9, 2017

Those of us working in digital often have an opinion on how something should be done, especially if we have observed a repetitive activity and recognize an effective and efficient way to get it done. So should you write standards or guidelines, and does it really matter? If you have the standards authority, i.e., it is part of your official job function or you have been formally recognized in the organization as having that responsibility, then you should determine what aspects of digital would most benefit from consistent execution and document them as standards. This is your job and responsibility, as outlined by the organization and you should deliver against that request. However, if you are a subject matter expert with deep expertise in an area of digital and have a strong opinion, but you have not been given formal authority to create standards, then recognize that and instead of attempting to force authority over colleagues where it doesn’t exist, document your knowledge as best practices and offer them up as guidelines. You are likelier to engage more colleagues and develop a culture of sharing, versus implying a requirement that doesn’t truly exist and having your knowledge undermined when your authority is questioned.

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