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I need to find or invent a word that suggests a system might be "adapted or improved to conform to a higher standard". A verb, noun, adjective or even adverb would be acceptable, but so far I haven't found quite what I'm looking for.

Context Examples:

"We are upgrading the current system for greater Enterprise [conformity to a higher standard]."

"I believe we need to change our approach. We need to [adapt to conform to a higher standard]."

"It will take some time to write an article that's more [improved to conform to a higher standard] than I've written before."

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3  
It's not obvious to me why "upgrade" itself won't do for most contexts, in that this can be used without necessarily elaborating on the "higher standard" to which adherence is being proposed. Also I don't think written articles are in the same class as (computer?) systems, in that they're not really produced in the context of rapidly evolving standards. Probably just polished or similar would do for such material. –  FumbleFingers May 11 '11 at 15:36

10 Answers 10

up vote 3 down vote accepted

My immediate thought was kaizen. It isn't strictly English, and it isn't strictly a verb, but it is known widely in some circles.

We need to kaizen our Enterprise compatibility.

We need to kaizen our approach.

I need to take time to kaizen my writing skills to make this article better.

This isn't strictly English, but you said you were open to inventing a word.

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Can you add what it means? –  MrHen Jan 28 '12 at 3:27
    
@MrHen sure, added a link to Wikipedia. –  Fraser Orr Feb 5 '12 at 15:16
    
Please don't use kaizen as a verb when "improve" with a well-chosen adverb will do. –  chrisdillon Apr 1 '12 at 3:15

I think the word you're looking for is

Evolve

It means almost exactly that.

Evolve: Develop esp. from a simple to a more complex form.

But you could also use

Robust: n(of a process or system, esp. an economic one) Able to withstand or overcome adverse conditions

We use it to describe computer applications all the time.

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Ah, but evolve virtually by definition doesn't imply upgrading to a higher standard, because "Evolution is blind", as they say. And robust explicitly names the particular attribute one seeks to improve - which wouldn't do for an article, for instance. –  FumbleFingers May 11 '11 at 15:42
    
I agree with Fumble. Evolve has the sense of change, but not of improvement. –  Concrete Gannet Mar 28 '12 at 6:13
    
Darwin's 'Evolution' has nothing to do with the usage of the word 'evolve'. Based on the definition 'Develop esp...', and the definition of develop, 'Grow or cause to grow and become more mature, advanced, or elaborate',it sounds to me like 'evolve' definitely means to 'improve'. Evolution being blind is a non-issue. –  MikeVaughan May 3 '12 at 8:21

I don't really think you need anything other than either improve or conform in most cases, because greater conformity will nearly always be an improvement at any rate. In general I think more context would help if you want to cut out some more words; in your examples, we don't know a great deal about the situations described.

"We are upgrading the current system for greater Enterprise conformity

This is probably what you mean; how can greater conformity not necessarily be an improvement in itself?."

"I believe we need to change our approach. We need to conform to a higher standard / raise our standards."

The above would probably work all right: why one word?

"It will take some time to write an article to a higher standard than [what] I've written before."

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I like "higher standard," but I disagree that "conform" has a positive connotation. More the opposite; it is a word that makes me think of bureaucracies or peer pressure. –  Larry OBrien May 11 '11 at 17:45
    
@LarryOBrien: Okay, I suppose the positive aspect of this conformity lies in the fact that all of these example sentences actually strive for greater conformity, not so much in the word itself. –  Cerberus May 11 '11 at 18:01

A few options (assuming a little mix and matching):

  • strict
  • compliance
  • adherence
  • accuracy

We are upgrading the current system for greater Enterprise compliance.

I believe we need to change our approach. We need stricter compliance.

It will take some time to write an article that's more compliant than I've written before.

This is especially useful when joined with standards:

We are upgrading the current system for greater Enterprise standards compliance.

I believe we need to change our approach. We need stricter standards compliance.

It will take some time to write an article that's more standards compliant than I've written before.

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Compliance is the closest I could come up with, too. It doesn't necessarily suggest an improvement, and unfortunately it tends to imply that the goal is to align with some predetermined set of rules, which is not really what I'm going for.. but I haven't been able to come up with anything better myself. –  Brian Lacy May 12 '11 at 14:46

It's a pretty open field. I would go with ameliorated.

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To me that has the overtone of a remedy to make a bad situation somewhat better. –  Concrete Gannet Mar 28 '12 at 6:15

Could it be overhaul ?

A few more tries below:

"We are upgrading the current system for greater Enterprise modernity."

"I believe we need to change our approach. We need to level up / modernise / overhaul / renovate our approach."

"It will take some time to write an article that's more state of the art than what I've written before."

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I would suggest optimize, optimization, optimal, optimality, proficient, proficiency.

If you really want to talk about meeting some norm, "conform" or "converge" perhaps.

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The nearest word that comes to mind is surpass and its various conjugations.

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Improve, optimize or refine should be adequate to most occasions, glorify if you need extra sarcasm...

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Perhaps the most universal fit is edify.

  • We are upgrading the current system for greater Enterprise edification.
  • I believe we need to change our approach. We need to edify it.
  • It will take some time to write an article that's more edified than I've written before.

This may not be a typical way of using it, but certainly works. Other good choices are: refine, transcend, sophisticate, enrich, reform, enhance, excel, idealize, revise, advance, acquiesce, or even simply improve.

It is mostly a matter of finding the one with proper connotation ("idealization, reluctance, room for further improvement", &c.) and the proper form for each use.

You may be really looking for multiple/different words (by these examples) or perhaps a phrase.

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Edify only means improve when it's applied to someone's education. –  Andrew Leach May 15 '13 at 11:02

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