By Mike Myatt
Believe it or not, there is a downside to anything labeled best practices. Even though I will from time-to-time slip and refer to something as best practices, I am attempting to extricate that phrase from my vocabulary. I have actually come to cringe every time I hear someone use the phrase in an authoritarian manner as a justification for the position they happen to be evangelizing. One of the most common reasons for pursuing best practices in a given area is to avoid having to “reinvent the wheel.” Think about it like this – if nobody ever reinvented the wheel, we’d still be riding around on wooden rims. One of the most difficult areas for executives to wrap their mind around is how to unlearn legacy based thinking. Maintenance doesn’t lead you forward – creation does. In today’s column I’ll ask you to consider my arguments for disregarding the myth of best practices.
Let me begin with a bold statement that I’m sure will unleash the wrath of many: “There is no such thing as best practices.” The reality is best practices are nothing more than disparate groups of methodologies, processes, rules, concepts and theories that have had success in certain areas, and because of those successes, have been deemed as universal truths able to be applied anywhere and everywhere. Just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true. Moreover, just because “Company A” had success with a certain initiative doesn’t mean that “Company B” can plug-and-play the same process and expect the same outcome. There is always room for new thinking and innovation, or at least there should be.