Any point in any situation can be looked at from two different perspectives- one, rules, and two, standards. What is a rule? What is a standard? And, what is the difference?
Rule is any stringent condition on an aspect, while a standard is a highly loose-ended subjective treatment of the matter. Standards are fuzzier than rules. For example, to understand what these terms are and what their difference is, in a much easier way, consider that you need to sell something, and you have to set a price. To regulate the price at which you sell, and the price at which the customer buys, there can be two ways according to the above approaches.
1. Sell it for Rs. 100. This is what a rule is. There is no power to work around in a rule, and it is very rigid. Such a concrete rule is not feasible in every situation.
2. Sell it at a reasonable price. This is a standard. In contrast to the rule above, the standard describes the price to be reasonable, and that clearly has a reasonably infinite interpretations to it. A standard also cannot be feasible in every situation.
However, rules and standards in themselves might be polar opposites, but in real life, what we see in the world is a rule-standard continuum, with an optimum middle. Consider this: if instead of selling it for a rigid Rs. 100, or letting every boundary loose by terming it reasonable, what if you hit the middle ground and set the price as "market price of the day". This has both shades of rigidity and fluidity to it, thus making it more friendly for both the sellers and the customers.
The above was just an example to understand the rule-standard continuum. This spectra of balancing rigidity and fluidity is extremely useful and important for all that we do in life, especially where administration is required. In my opinion, many issues arise due to a lack of balance of these interests on the rule-standard continuum, when one or the other party tries to tip the scale to its advantage.
Maybe, seeking this balance is what we should all look at!