Best Practices

A Best Practice is defined as a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means and is used as a benchmark. In addition, a “best” practice can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered.

Yes, there are many ways to perform any task, but there can only be one “Best Practice”. Do not allow yourself to believe that you are currently doing everything in your business the very best way.

Develop Realistic Expectations
You should maintain realistic expectations when seeking a “best practice” in your analysis because the practice may not be solving the problem at all, and it may instead produce unfavorable results. Because a practice seems to be tailored to a specific problem and also based on solid research, it does not necessarily mean it is creating good results. However, the research can produce thought-provoking concepts on what can and can not work when put into practice.

Analyze Best Practices
In an analysis, a Best Practice is a clear and concrete behavior that solves a problem or achieves a goal. The Best Practices take “advantage” of an idle opportunity at a low cost and little risk. These are opportunities for creative policy improvements such as “cost-based pricing” or “input substitution” that have the possibility to generate value at a very low cost. Breaking loose from conventions and challenging assumptions can also be way to take advantage of an opportunity.

Observe the Practice
The primary mechanism in a Best Practice is the ability or the means of achieving a goal in a cost-effective manner. The secondary mechanisms include implementing features, supportive features, and optional features. It can be very complicated to separate between the functions in getting the mechanism to work and the features that support those functions.

It is recommended that when adapting smart practices from others, identify the core essence of the practice while allowing flexibility for how it is implemented so it remains sensitive to your conditions. Robust Best Practices are adaptable to various conditions, have many operational features, and can employ similar but diverse ways to achieve their goals.

Generic Vulnerabilities
In addition to the reasons why a Best Practice might succeed, you should also describe potential vulnerabilities that could lead a Best Practice to fail – these weaknesses are “generic vulnerabilities”. Two types of vulnerabilities are worth particular attention:

1) poor general management capacity, which makes it more difficult to effectively implement a smart practice, and

2) weaknesses inherent to the practice itself. You should develop safeguards in order to minimize the risk of generic vulnerabilities.

Make it Work for You
The final step in identifying an appropriate Best Practice for a problem is to ensure that while it works for others, it should work within your organization. Risks to implementing the selected Best Practice need to be anticipated in order to maximize the likelihood of success. If utilizing a pilot Best Practice the success needs to be discounted in order to account for the better than average favorable conditions that pilot programs usually operate under. These conditions include increased enthusiasm, advantageous workplace, and economic conditions, and less resistance due to the lack of permanency in pilot programs. Finally, when considering implementing a Best Practice on a wide scale one must be aware of the ‘weakest link’ scenario and getting complete buy-in from everyone involved. Without buy-in, you may experience a decline in the practice over time.

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