best practice is badIf someone knocks at your door and offers you ‘best practice’ you should say no. Best practice is at best a distillation of ‘what has been’ and has worked. It is based in the past and unless the system you are operating in is purely mechanical (e.g. you make nuts and bolts in bulk) then it is not guaranteed to work.

Apart from being fixed on the past, best practice usually consists of ready made methods or processes for you to copy. A consultant or well meaning colleague may thump a large book in front of you and say ‘just follow this and you will be alright’ but the chances are you will not.

Firstly the method or process has been lifted out of one context and dropped into another (probably different) context. The contextual information makes a huge difference. It could contain information on economic factors, industry sector, seasonal factors and many more. Secondly there is one huge factor that can never be identical, people. People are the biggest asset an organisation can have but they also provide the most variables. If you have been given advice like this, please do not blindly follow it, treat it as a reference work.

So what can we do? Sharing is not the problem, you just have to know what to share! Instead of throwing processes and methods at each other we should be sharing experiences (telling stories) and learning from them as well as sharing the tools for the trade (hammers, paint brushes, facilitation techniques, communications tools etc). Find like minded colleagues or business partners, share tools and experiences and use the knowledge gleaned to learn and create pathways into the future. We should be more interested in the journey than the destination.

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