Technology is growing at an exponential rate, and it’s important for industries to adapt their standards accordingly in order for companies and organizations to work with one another efficiently.
If processes and standards are not established, companies will hold different expectations and evaluate business on a different scale, essentially speaking different languages. These points of disconnection create a lack of continuity that not only impacts the business owners, but also their clients or customers.
Whether you aim to create or improve standards within your industry, there are a few crucial steps to keep in mind.
PICK A TEAM AND ASPIRE FOR COOPETITION
Gather a group of your professional peers and key players in your industry to work with. These people should be thought leaders and advocates for change who share a common goal of unity, for the sake of collective progression and profitability.
One person or company cannot change industry standards alone. The purpose of a standard is to be recognized across a wide spectrum of players. Picking the right team can ensure the best results and the best chance of spreading awareness.
DISCUSS EXISTING NEEDS
After building your team, missing pieces or problems must be identified clearly before standards can be created or improved. Successful collaboration is fueled by excellent communication and attention to nuances within the existing industry standards. Improvement often requires zooming in and analyzing current practices and procedures on a granular level in order to identify weak spots.
If, instead, you are aiming to create standards that don’t yet exist, it’s important to assess the industry’s needs. Does it need a communication or reporting strategy? Does it need a common hub for data to be collected and stored? Does it need a process for transactions or interaction? Depending on what your industry needs to operate in the increasingly interconnected world, you must focus on different technology or protocols to best address those needs.
CREATE A SOLUTION
Once needs are identified, it’s time to begin working on a solution. It’s often helpful to work backwards, or throw out ideas that may or may not be plausible. Begin with the big picture and break down the process from there. By doing this, your team can begin thinking through realistic, innovative solutions that accomplish the same big-picture goals. Some of these ideal solutions may simply require a few more years of development to reach optimal efficiency. However, that’s not to say that you can’t begin working toward them now.
Following your plan, start a test phase within your team. Does this solution address the problem? Is it reasonable? Could it be better? What is still missing? Test and try until your solution is applicable to a wider audience. If others in your field can’t implement the strategy, you haven’t yet established an industry standard. This phase takes time and re-evaluation, but is critical to achieve your goal.
SPREAD THE WORD
The final step in the process is to share your new standards with others in the industry, as well as partnering industries or individuals who will be affected. This step is where new or improved practices are nourished and incorporated, and while it may be tempting to let your new standards fly off and establish themselves, it takes very intentional work to integrate new ideas into the business world.
Developing standards is critical to the progress of any industry, and without willing professionals to initiate the change and lead the charge, industries become stagnant, and eventually, disconnected. Companies thrive when they operate on the same scale, timeline and playing field as others in their industry. Industry standards and protocols provide level ground, tilled and cultivated for growth.
This article originally appeared on the Greater Memphis Chamber blog.