Why Business Best Practices Aren't Really Best After All.

Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a best practice for whatever you are working on at the moment?

There are conferences set aside to talk about these best practices. Lecturers, experts, gurus, and prognosticators all speak about the one best way you should be doing what you're doing. Whatever you're doing.

From sales to finance and operations to human resources, there's a best practice and you're "wrong" if you are not doing it that way. That's the implications -- the accusation, in many cases.

There is a best way to practice; anything else is "bad".

But that's short sighted. In many cases just plain wrong.

Just because a strategy worked for someone else doesn't mean that it will work for you -- even if you are in the same industry, working in the same town, calling on the same clients.

No matter how similar your situation seems to be to the best practice scenario, time and personality and the changing emotions and concerns of the other person involved distort business practice comparisons. But that's not the only thing wrong with this discussion.

The wording of "best practices" is by itself a misnomer.

There is no one best way to do anything. Time and money and circumstances have proven to expand what we think of as "best" -- in every scenario of life. And any discussion about the one way you need to do something automatically leads to underwhelming results -- and unnecessary disaster.

The best practice for lighting your home used to be a well-placed fireplace. Then that best practice was made extinct by the common candle. That too was made irrelevant by gas lighting and then the electric light bulb. Now LED's and solar mirrors are better ways to efficiently light your home.

Best wasn't really best after all.

Time and invention and perspective force us to radically change our minds.

That happens in every part of business.  And year after year we keep coming back to the frightful conclusion that we are wrong in our pursuit of what other people think is "best".

Perhaps the better discussion is what are "good" practices? What are smart things to do that drive good results?

Why limit your options to a handful of choices that someone else is shoving down your throat?

Business can be broken down into a few simple philosophies.

  1. Do more good things than you do bad things.
  2. Don't follow the leader, the crowd, or the drummer.
  3. Believe that there's a better way to do what you're doing now.

Forget about "best practices".

Chances are, they are really aren't "best" anyways.