Product development guiding principle: Cross-pollination over imposed standards
Guiding principle in effective product development culture.
There are many ways to say it: de facto over de jure standards, natural over imposed consistency, cross-pollination over imposed standards. They are all describing the same way to answer the question: how should standard ways of doing something be spread more broadly?
So why might a standard be valuable enough to bother trying to spread?
Standards are useful to simplify learning and address variation of performance
Standards are useful to avoid everyone having to learn a new way of doing things every time they interact with a new team.
Standards are useful to address variation of performance, that is, if there’s a better way of doing something, a standard can be used to spread it across teams.
The problem with imposed standards is context
There are problems with imposing a centralised standard.
There’s a cost to having to learn different approaches every time you switch context BUT it’s also unlikely that one approach is optimal for every context AND we want to allow for experimentation to discover even better approaches.
Cross-pollination encourages de facto standardisation while allowing for flexibility
Ensure everyone is aware of defaults but also has the autonomy to choose an alternate approach as appropriate.
Make defaults easy to do (aka Golden Path) but leave the option open to choose an alternate approach as appropriate. This allows for context-specific adjustments AND experimentation to find even better approaches.
Cross-boundary protocols generally warrants stronger guidance, even imposition
Communication and interaction protocols across boundaries are where standardisation is important even if it requires more imposition.