I've been reading this post on UI Trends about questioning the use of UI standards with the organization. http://uitrends.com/2010/04/13/are-user-interface-standards-any-good/
Personally I do believe that UI standards are needed within a company but they need to leave room for creativity and change.
What's your feeling?
I think there are levels of UI standards you can refer to. For example, a "digital" style guide, something with the basics branding rules like typographic information, how to use the logo, colors, and other related brand rules that apply to the digital world.
The other areas are interaction workflows or frameworks (Robert Hoekman Jr has written some good stuff about this) and then a another level is design patterns.
I think it is follish to say the stiffle creativity. Though I have heard that arguement, but never from anyone I know. Think of them more as guidelines, some things should not have to be reinvented, especially within an organization. Think logins, data tables, banner areas, footers, tabs, etc... There should be some basic interaction and possibly visual design rules the are consistent through out an organization.
I agreed with what John said.
Depending on your organization, you may need separate UI guidelines for specific segments of products you have. With that said, don't constraint your organization or your UI department with just style guides, guidelines, and patterns. You always need to update and change as new techniques and technologies arises.
The most important thing is to keep the UI standards always updated. I've worked in organizations where they "say" they have complete UI standards but are outdated from months/years ago.
Here's some good quotation.
"If there is a well thought-out design standard, it should be followed. In practice, great design comes from great designers. That is empirically the case. If a great designer did a first-rate standard, that model should be followed. Great design is not democratic; it comes from great designers. If the standard is lousy, then develop another standard."
- Edward Tufte