Making the Best Better?

File under: And?

Dale Emery has developed and ironclad test of best practices. To whit:

For something to be a best practice, it has to be practiced, and it has to be best.

Well, of course! I’m not sure the answer is so simple. What makes a best practice a best practice? Considering a handful of definitions, the following elements seem to be relatively consistent:

  • activity or procedure that has produced outstanding results
  • could be adapted to improve effectiveness, efficiency
  • has a positive impact on customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, or financial results
  • involve top-level commitment, strategic planning, process adaptations, and measurement
  • recognized as “best” by other peer organizations
  • a by-product of a successful end-result
  • competitive benchmarking

A couple of intriguing insights here. One, best practices need to be reverse engineered — i.e., given that success needs to be an end result, best practices can only be identified after a project or process is completed. So implementing best practices is easier said than done. What might be best for one organization may be unrealistic for yours. Two, best practices can be adapted. Any team or leader trying to implement a best practice as is is missing the point.

Tweak best practices. Make them your own. Make them better.