The Fallacy of "Best Practice"


Most of us want to do better and a popular place to turn is "best practices." What are others doing well that contributes to their success?  

Sure, it's easier to see what others have defined rather than create on our own.  But at the same time, when we start comparing organizations it does come with challenges.

It assumes copying a piece of another organization into your organization will yield similar results.  In reality every organization is comprised of a unique set of individuals who will respond and carry out a similar principle in different ways.  And get different results. Never forget to link change initiatives to solving the problems your best people see in the business.

In the course of benchmarking, or seeking out best practices, you'll discover successful companies who do things better and successful companies who do things worse.  Your change seekers will always spotlight the former and the nay-sayers will always spotlight the latter.  In other words, a best practice can't be the only reason for a change.  Alone it does not create urgency for change.

If we don’t get better every day, we’re on a path to obsolescence. Your star execs will never say things like “best in class” or “industry norm.”  The only benchmark that matters — the only one to beat — is what we look like today.  -- Dave Girouard