My architect students call it the "universal design solution." That's a strategy in which you design a product so that it will work for every situation so that way you can mass-produce it cheaply and efficiently.
Of course, there are all kinds of problems inherent with the universal design solution. In the book Cradle to Cradle, the authors use detergent as an example of a product designed without a particular landscape in mind. Water quality varies from place to place, but a mass-produced detergent will be designed for the most difficult situation, like washing grease in hard water. A product designed for universal use needs to work in the worst case scenario. That means even someone in a community with soft water, who is just washing watermelon juice off a plate, will be using a high-strength detergent, dumping into the waste stream (and eventually, the local water supply) chemicals that were completely unnecessary in the first place.
More difficult, but perhaps smarter and better for the environment, is designing products that take into account the landscape and the local culture.
What I was thinking about, when I was discussing this with some of my students, was not about soap or office buildings or any of the other bland, mass-produced products in our culture. I was thinking about the parenting advice I used to get when my kids were little. Often the advice was given to me by people who hadn't even met my kids. They'd say thing like, "Well, it's important to make sure kids do X," or "Of course, it isn't good to do Y." They'd make these sweeping statements about how to raise kids, even if they didn't know much about me or my particular kids.
I always question these generalizations about what "good" parenting is, even when it's something accepted as conventional wisdom. So much depends on getting to know your child. The kind of parenting that worked with my quiet, analytical Boy in Black may not have been the best approach for an outgoing, impulsive kid. The kind of laidback approach I used when my daughter was in elementary school, letting her take days off from school whenever she felt she needed to, worked for a smart, self-motivated over-achiever, but perhaps wouldn't have been the best strategy if she were a child who needed encouragement to do well in school.
Even now, when I have teenagers, I often get parenting advice from well-meaning people who tell me, in all seriousness: "Well, teenagers should do X, " or "it's good for teenagers to do Y." Mostly, I just shrug and ignore these sweeping generalizations.
Because the universal design solution doesn't work so well with parenting.