Because they seem plausible.

We want to assure our customers that we will work to a standard; we will pick up their call in three rings or reply to letters in five days. But is that what customers want?

Because managers can ‘manage’ with standards.

The management role is to police deviation from standards. Is that the way to improve performance?

Introducing and monitoring service standards is no more than paying attention to output. Attention to output brings its inevitable consequences. Waste is institutionalised, people distort the system when they ‘have to’. There is no improvement.

Standards are anathema to improvement.