Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why "Best Practices" often aren't.

"Best Practices" often don't live up to expectations.  Yet we persist in the belief that they exist in some corporate domain, somewhere in the business universe.  And because big corporate names are often attached to these 'best practices', we associate their organizational persona with the success of the best practice they developed.  We want to be like them, because we secretly believe they found the silver bullet to success.

Best Practices are the outcome of the quality movement and other corporate searches for the "Holy Grail" of business.   Yet, they don't always work out as planned.  Here's why:

Why "Best Practices" often aren't.
  1. Every organization is different.  (Am I stating the obvious?  Please forgive me.)  This includes the leadership, markets, employees, customers, products, services, policies, strategic direction and organizational performance at the time of the 'best practice'. 
  2. The complexity of organizational structure makes the implementation of a 'best practice' nearly impossible to achieve.
  3. A 'best practice' generally arose from some organizational suffering requiring rethinking, retooling, and reappraisal.  That suffering induced effort, often strenuous effort, to resolve a major issue.  Without that requisite suffering, organizational bystanders may study a 'best practice' but they will not likely be as engaged in applying the practice in their circumstance.
  4. The 'best practice' we read in a polished marketing brochure may be radically different from where it started. In other words, we may not be getting the whole story.

So what are these 'best practices' good for?

  1. The value of a 'best practice' is the awareness of a different way to do things.
  2. They create an avenue for discussion that comes from outside the corporation, and are often less threatening to those who are failing to lead.
  3. In every perceived 'best practice' there is an element of truth which can be applied in one's circumstance.  There is always something to learn and apply - the will to do so, however, is still the limiting factor.
An alternative!

  1. Sometimes, your 'best practices' are within your own walls.  People within your company are doing amazing things that can change your company!  [A prophet is not without honor except in his own land ...].
  2. The exemplar teams within your company would benefit from the recognition you could provide by acknowledging their achievements.  (And just think of what that would do for Employee Engagement!).
  3. Sometimes, just good old fashioned hard work and brainstorming can produce remarkable results within your company.  Who knows?  Maybe your organization will come up with the next 'best practice'?
At Pro/Axios, we offer plainspoken language to guide those who do the work.

Pro/Axios Website

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