At a recent conference, I sat in on one of the sessions that focused on a company's experience with constructing a corporate meta data repository. At some point during the talk, one of the attendees asked, "Has your company defined any data standards?" The presenter, with a completely straight face, replied (and I am paraphrasing), "Yes, plenty, but nobody uses any of them." There were a few chuckles, but the comment resonated with me for a few reasons that I think are interesting to explore.

First of all, the fact that there were only a few chuckles surprised me. Data standards are defined to enforce conformance with expectations, but a standard is not really a standard if no one is complying with it, hence the laughter. An organization that has invested in the effort to define a data standard that everyone ignores has wasted its investment. My second surprise was the presenter's straight face when he replied, which implied that he didn't realize how incongruous his comment was.

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