The term best practice is not only a myth but limits our thinking. Sometimes a best practice can distract us from the real issue. Most of the time, the best practice is something we have heard before.
Hey, Look at them! They are really good. Let’s ask them what they are doing right. Let’s use their best practices so we can get better. Let’s put those ideas on paper/email/policies. Let’s make it mandatory that everyone use a certain number of these best practices. Let’s just copy them.
We can claim that best practices will help us when we are struggling. Sometimes a best practice can be great. Sometimes a best practice can become a new part of our culture.
Often, that best practice works somewhere else. It works in that market/segment/area/culture/customer base so we assume it works anywhere. Them doing something their way has no guarantee that it will work in our place. Do we really want to be like them?
If we could just throw all best practices in an arena, we would have an all-star team, right? Most all-star teams don’t follow the best practices of the other team. They find ways to be better than the other team. Usually they are just themselves. Usually they just have everyone on the team playing to win the game.
What if Google used AOL’s best practices?
What if Netflix used Blockbuster’s best practices?
What if Apple followed Blackberry?
What if Tesla followed Saturn?
If we are struggling, what we don’t need is another thing to read/implement/manage/report. The best practice solution is often more sand in an already loose foundation. Yes, some of us can argue that we found a gem in the sand. We can even name a few. It’s likely harder to name the 100 that aren’t useful (because we didn’t do them). Some of us can even argue 3 good ones out of 100 are worth it. Maybe that is true but let’s not mistake that as a fix-all for our trouble. 3% will lose most games.
Best practices are best implemented when the basics are going well. Best practices are best used with the best players. Best practices are best with a unified voice. “A” practice + “C” player = “C” performance.
If we are saying that this is a best practice, there is nothing better.
It’s usually not the best.
It won’t help us win the game.
Have the courage to define us in our own context. Have the courage to lead by culture. Have the courage to return to the basics that made us successful to start. Have the courage to be us. Have the courage to block out the noise of the best practice game. That crowd is really loud.
Do you have a best practice story? Please share it in the comments.