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Rethinking the Practice of Best Practices

Don’t be fooled, best practices are a business within themselves.  Companies make money issuing these best practices, but how much money are you bringing in by using them?  Rachel Burstein suggests rethinking how well best practices are working for you in her article.  She notes that it is the discussion after the employment of best practices that will do your organization the most good:

Published best practices rarely facilitate real dialogue with trusted—and confidential—sources.  As the social scientist Eugene Bardach and others have argued, best practices are generally produced for broad audiences and do not do a good job of qualifying which communities should adopt which approaches.  Context matters if innovations are to spread effectively:  If I do not see a best practice as relevant to my unique constituency or if I cannot implement the approach with my organization’s resources, what is my incentive for adopting it?

Burstein goes on to say that one should remember that most new best practices are not entirely innovative or unheard of.  Instead, they rely on readily available existing information in the field.  In many cases, believing that you and you organization will surely succeed if you follow a set of best practices is simply unrealistic.

It is important to remember that failure is an important part of innovation.  Instead of completely relying on best practices to get by, allowing a possible failure now and again can give you real world experience as to what will and will not work for your organization.  Burstein wants us to remember that it is the sustained conversations, not the exchange of information that will benefit everyone the most.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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