The problem with claiming something as a “best” practice is that it suggests there will never be a better solution. But Greg Satell writes for Forbes that, when used sensibly, best practices provide a tremendous value to the business. Maybe we should just start calling them best-we-can-do-right-now practices?
Some Best-We-Can-Do-Right-Now Practices
Benchmarking is one of those practices where the value is easy to see. Knowing how you compare to the competition in terms of costs and processes is the only way to know whether you are with, behind, or ahead of the times. Satell warns that merely crunching numbers will not suffice though. You need to also absorb the context of the numbers and make allowance for anomalies. When numbers and processes start to all look the same across organizations is the opportune moment to leap ahead with that next innovation.
Organizational learning is another area where best practices stand to come into play. In most businesses, learning takes the form of informal gatherings, and trial and error is a big element. Having an internal best practices program however lets you share information without the trial and error, and Satell especially notes that middle management is likely to have very useful insights.
Since resources are never limitless, Satell acknowledges that there will always be at least one part of your organization that is, to use his phrasing, “crap,” but there is hope:
In this respect, the search for best practices can be immensely valuable. By employing them intelligently, you can increase your own performance in areas in which you are weak. So while it’s true that adopting best practices from elsewhere won’t lead you to excellence, sometimes it’s an extremely viable way to save you from being crap.
Tying back into my best-we-can-do-right-now theory, Satell upholds the value of “perpetual beta,” as seen in places like Gmail. The underlying idea is that you are doing the best you can right now, but you are always open-minded for the opportunity to make things even better down the line.
You can read Satell’s full article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2014/07/13/how-to-use-best-practices-to-spur-innovation-forward/