Standards Too High

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Pablo Edronkin

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Standards doesn't just mean to distribute the same kind of equipment to every member of an organisation such as an expedition to Mount Trango or Nanga Parbat; it also means that every explorer or member of the expedition should know how to use the equipment, and that means conventionality.

Of course, it is a relative concept; we are talking about conventionality as is for those people who will participate of the expedition. No responsible expedition leader would take a novice mountaineer to such a mission, and even among seasoned climbers, for such a task they would have to become very familiar with any new sort of gear first.A standard for - say - a pilot or an astronaut regarding cockpit instruments should be familiar for both despite that they might see the same standard in a different way. However, what is standard for some may seem totally alien high-tech for others. Just put two pilots speaking about VOR and VORTAC differences in a wedding dinner. They may feel totally entertained, but for the rest of those present, the whole thing will sound and look bleak, boring and impossible to understand.Thus, the first rule of any process of assimilation of a new standard is to make sure that each individual adopting the standard fully understands it and is properly trained in its intricacies.

Moreover: The leader of the organisation adopting the standard must be assured that the adoption of the new standard doesn't go against old habits or if it does, that it doesn't create confusion.If you take - say - carabiners with a new locking system that operates differently than your previous one, practice a lot before going up to climb because a rock wall is not the place to finally realise that you haven't locked the carabiner that attaches your rappel eight to your seat harness because you operated it like the older one. Whenever this happens or when a new standard is adopted in a bureaucratic manner, forgetting that the end users may not understand the new equipment for whatever reason, we must speak of a standard too high both for the organisation as well as the individuals that form part of it. The difference lies in the fact that standards too elevated are always temporary for the corporation but may be temporary or final for its members at any given time. So, utmost care should be taken also to ensure that the new, pretended standards will be understandable.

Just think about the Royal Navy that had celebrated heroes like Captain Cook sailing across the Pacific in wooden ships and now has nuclear submarines. Both kinds of vessels acquired the status of standard for the same organisation, but the good Captain Cook would not be today in a position to command a nuclear submarine, no matter what.

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