Don’t we all agree that less is more? Einstein certainly thought so when he attempted to develop a “unified theory” that could explain the world of physics. Tolkien embraced the concept when he came up with the idea of “one ring to rule them all.” And performers like Beyoncé, Madonna, and Cher obviously subscribe to the maxim by requiring us to remember only one name instead of two. Even in the data center business there are those who would like to see a reduction in the number of standards we use to compare, contrast, benchmark, and certify our facilities and their performance. In fact, I recently read about an organization that is attempting to develop a single standard to enable companies to assess the performance of all of their IT infrastructure. This is an ambitious goal, but like I always say, “If you’re going to dream, dream big.” I wish these folks well in their efforts and, having seen many proposed standards come and go over the years, I’d like to offer them the benefit of my experience by providing them with my five rules for the development of a successful standard.
Rule #1: Keep it simple. The ultimate purpose for the development of any standard is for it to be popularly adopted and used as a common point of reference. What this means in actuality is: if you want your standard to succeed, it needs to be understandable to even those who define the term “lowest common denominator.” I think that’s a major reason behind the success of the Tier standard. Although the actual requirements are quite detailed and specific, even the layman appreciates UI’s packaging them in a “Good, Better, Best…” type of format. I’ve read that the average newspaper is written at a sixth grade level, so the lesson is clear: aim lower. As my trusty marketing guy regularly proves, marketing people are always good subjects for any type of “ease of understanding” testing so lean on them to see if you’ve hit a denominator truly low enough.