Earlier this week, a news blurb caught my eye that had to do with an industry standard for the development of collision repair methods in the United Kingdom. An insurer-funded research entity called Thatcham will develop the standard that they claim will “ensure vehicle repair methods are comprehensive, easy to use, and widely available and accessible at vehicle launch.”
After reading the entire news item, I couldn’t help but think of my wife (a third grade schoolteacher in a public school system) and her plight in trying to implement the now infamous “No Child Left Behind” educational standard set forth upon America’s public school system some six or seven years ago. Certainly, “standards” are appropriate doctrines in certain circumstances, but I can tell you that, from a first-hand account via my wife’s profession, they can do more harm than good in other circumstances.
The “development” of any standard is, by virtue of when it takes place (i.e., at the beginning), the noble or more altruistic part of the process. It’s the implementation of “standards” that poses the greatest challenge to their acceptance and success. I’m generally supportive of the idea of “standards,” which I owe to my undying belief in process efficiency. One does not achieve efficient and beneficial results until disciplined and sometimes “standard” routines and practices are firmly in place throughout any given process. But, many times, I have witnessed “standards” do more harm than good, especially at the implementation phase. Sure, “standards” can be tweaked, rewritten, even overhauled as a result of difficulty in implementation or unsatisfactory results. And, after some adjustments, many “standards” can move forward with great success. But just as many “standards” can and do fail miserably, even after a multitude of adjustments and rewrites have been made. “No Child Left Behind” is more and more becoming one such
Developing “standard” teaching methods, “standard” curricula and “standard” measurement tools (i.e., tests) for millions of individual, professionally-trained teachers so they can help all of their students (some millions more) achieve a comprehensive understanding of that curricula and pass a series of “standard” tests has resulted in (from my perspective) a colossal educational failure. In an environment where it’s proven that each individual student learns, understands and progresses at a different pace educationally as well as socially, and each individual teacher works diligently with each unique student to enable them to adapt to the level of understanding they should be at, “standards” have no place and are failing miserably at this critical point of implementation.
Applying this lesson to the collision repair world should help to send a very loud and clear message: the success of any “standard” can only be measured at the point of implementation and, in many instances, “standards” may actually do more harm than good, regardless of how noble their intention. In creating a “standard” for the development of collision repair methods, are we tipping the scales of assumption too far, such that established efficiencies are lost or downgraded and proven, effective practices are compromised, resulting in many more mediocre repairs and fewer outstanding or above average repairs? If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times: “No one ‘hit’ is the same!” Alas, the same can be said for the education industry, where no teacher and no student are the same either.