Innovation and Standards

It could be perceived that innovation and standards are opposing ideas; in reality, the two ideas work together to prevent the extremes of stagnation and chaos: standards bring order to chaotic implementations of new ideas, additionally providing a baseline for new innovation to flourish. That innovation, in turn, feeds the creation of new and updated standards. 

One of the first computer scientists, Herbert Simon, in The Architecture of Complexity coined the heuristic that “complex systems will evolve much more rapidly if there are stable intermediate forms than if there are not.” Standards are those stable intermediate forms necessary for innovation and evolution.

For example, in 2014 the OGC - a standards developing organization (SDO) - adopted an ‘Innovation Statement’ for maintain current standards while simultaneously addressing the evolution in technology and markets. While ensuring harmonization in OGC standards, OGC must simultaneously respond to the Christensen’s Innovators Dilemma. The OGC identified several actions to implement its Innovation Statement:

To frame a discussion about innovation and standards, consider this view of open standards development as developed by Mark Reichardt, OGC President:

Several excerpts from The Innovators by Walter Isaacson provide a historical perspective on technology innovation on which SDOs can build:

If you have a question or comment on this blog, contact George Percivall, former OGC CTO and Chief Engineer. percivall at

Co-authors of this blog post include: Luis Bermudez, Scott Simmons and Terry Idol.

Originally posted  as an OGC Blog on 10 March 2017 at