Next practice not best practice

‘Best Practice’ is one of those buzzwords that gets chucked around corporations with impunity. I get where it’s come from and I get why many like to rely on it – I mean, once you have found a way to do something successfully, why would you not want to replicate that experience over and over again?

Here’s why. The speed of change in human behaviour brought about by the speed of change in technology means that by the time something becomes enshrined as best practice, it is already likely to have been superseded. That’s because for the first time since the written word arrived, we are no longer masters of the message or the medium.

dinosleep2Best practice should no longer be seen as a blueprint for describing the standard way of doing things in an organisation. It’s too safe. It’s too comfortable. And it’s too predictable. I see evidence all over the place, especially in advertising, marketing and PR. If you’re going to cite best practice as your primary justification for doing things in a certain way, you may as well stick a sign above your desk while you’re at it saying “Quiet please, dinosaur sleeping”.

We need to think differently; with agility, fluidity, creativity and a bit more bravery. Best practise has served us well for decades, nay centuries – because we have been able to control the messages and the medium. We are losing this power with every day that passes. Carrier pigeons, telegrams, snail mail, faxes, email – same difference really – all had similar limitations when it came to reach, speed and spread. Social Media has democratised communication like never before and it’s turned us all into authors and broadcasters.

It’s time to forget about best practise. The pace of change is such that predicting ‘next practice’ is what will bring the bacon home.

2 thoughts on “Next practice not best practice

  1. Well done sir on another great blog.
    ‘best practice’ reminds me of stories such as that of Montague Burton who as you know was a major driver in the sale of ready-made suits. Walking down the street you will see few people with exactly the same build, yet a number of them will buy the same size suit. The difference between people wearing an off the rail suit and those who wear bespoke suit, is that for one of those it will be the perfect fit and look great, for the other at best an okay fit. This logic applies to ‘best practice’, applying it will fit ‘okay’ and may have some benefits, but ‘bespoke’ options i.e. by having a thorough understanding of the organisation will have a much greater and effective impact.

  2. Interesting Gideon, I must confess my take on this was through the single company lens and was more about the inertia and complacency that accompanies an over-reliance on best practice. Between organisations it’s always nice to see what others do to see if there is anything that can be ‘borrowed’, and of course you are absolutely right – it would be very silly to copy best practice from another company without first testing it against your own culture, values, habits and behaviours.

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