The Concept of Best Practice
When we talk about the ‘best practice approach’ what do we really mean? What we are referring to is a combination of processes, systems, methods, tools, skills and so on. It is the application of this combination and just as importantly its use by the individuals within the organisation, which has been found to increase the chances of success for the corporation.
How do we know that the chances of success will increase? Where does this combination come from?
The operative word is ‘practice’. The best practice approach is usually distilled by identifying those companies that demonstrate better performance over the medium term in specific areas and then seeking to identify the commonalities across these companies.
A common misconception is that best practice can only arise from companies that look very similar to your own company. The reality is that the best practice approach for a given situation may have been originated by companies that look very different from your own, operating in very different markets, yet sharing a number of common elements.
So what we are most interested in is not necessarily companies that look identical but companies that are facing similar issues. By considering these companies and comparing their successes and failures we can start to formulate an initial draft for a generic best practice approach. In other words what is it that connects the companies that are the top performers in their markets and similarly what connects those companies that attain less impressive results.
What we find of course is that companies will respond to similar situations in a variety of ways, from doing nothing to adopting radical initiatives. Inevitably some approaches tend to be more successful than others. What we are interested in doing is identifying those approaches that are more likely to lead to success for most companies.
1. If Best Practice is to have any meaning is cannot be a vague intangible concept
2. If you do not know how to measure it then you probably do not have it
3. Implementing the Best Practice process does not guarantee success – however it can be shown to increase the chance of success
4. Best Practice is not vested in one company.
5. Success today does not guarantee success tomorrow
6. Talking about Best Practice is not the same as doing it just as thinking you have a Best Practice approach in place is very different from knowing you do
7. Similarly, having a Best Practice mode is very different from using a Best Practice model
8. The Best Practice model is not fixed but will change as circumstances change and as new learning is gained
9. If everyone is doing it then it is no longer Best Practice – it is common practice! It is not Best Practice to make products that work that you can deliver on time.
10. The Best Practice Model cannot be introduced without adapting it to your circumstances. Your company has a history and a current approach. It is not effective to try to replace them. The ideal (or Best Practice) approach to implement the Model is to graft on the Best Practice elements to the existing system.