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Busted (Best) Practices

January 2, 2012

The corporate world is enamored with fads. You will find a slew of terms, acronyms, all of them announcing the flavour of the year or (even worse..) the quarter. BPR. KM. BHAGs. ISO. TQM. The list is endless.

One of the most dangerous ones though is the dreaded term called “Best Practice

A lot of consulting companies have made tons of money selling “Best Practices”. These are the exceptional things that successful companies do. These are usually what consulting companies ascribe the success to. Thereby creating the dream that if YOUR organization were to “mimic/ape/copy” these Best Practices, you too would experience similar success. This is a very seductive draw, since there is ample evidence how the other company benefited from said Best Practice. Leading you to believe that you can too!

This is a load of (pardon the French) BULL. What’s Best for others, is BUST for you.

There are over 17 books written about various Best Practices at Toyota, a similar number on Dell and many

Totally Busted

Image via Wikipedia

many more on GE. Yet, how is it that no other company has even come close to any of them?

And that’s the key. That is the question you have to ask yourself, before you dive mindlessly into mimicking someone else’s Best Practice. What your consultants don’t tell you, is that GEs Best Practice, is Best only in GEs context. In your context it might not work.

Just like a chemical reaction, a Best Practice doesn’t just require the ingredients. It requires them at the right temperature, pressure, humidity, right order and right quantity. Any of the above being wrong, will result in a BUST i.e. no reaction.

Pardon the French but Mimicking is best left to Monkeys.

Do I hear you ask “So what do I do then?”

Be informed by a Best Practice, don’t be influenced by it. By which I mean, don’t go copying it blindly, but learn from it, and then examine how something similar would need to be tailored to suit your context. Modify as required. Make a few changes. Maybe even do something completely different although in a similar vein. GE’s Best Practice can never be your Best Practice. Never.

Build your own. For deeper insight, look within. If you’re a successful organization, you already have Best Practices that are propelling you. Figure out which are those Best Practices. Once you have identified a few, put them all down together and use a process of analysis/synthesis to define which paradigm the practices operate from. That’s your context.

This is a SVG version of wikipedia File:Apple_...

Image via Wikipedia

Now tailor other practices around similar paradigms. And you’ll be on your way to consciously building your own Best Practices. Which would be more “appropriate” to your context. Let’s move towards Apt Practices.

The next time a consultant calls to present yet another Best (Busted) Practice, do listen. Don’t copy. Be original. Duplicates never command the same value.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2012 6:36 pm

    I totally agree with you Joy. One needs to look within and more so in a multi-unit scenario, many a times, practices being followed successfully by one unit is not followed by another unit.

    Many consultants offer solutions basis whatever is available off the shelf and not what is needed by the organization.



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