Updated: Oct 29, 2022
Best practice, as an expression, is a bit of an umbrella term, and any practice can be deemed ‘best’ if it suits a process, policy, or procedure yet is not, in and of itself, a best practice! Rules are often best practices in action, and for many of us, they have become a way of life.
DEFINITION: Best practices are a set of guidelines, ethics, or ideas that represent the most efficient or prudent course of action in any given business situation. Best practices are, in essence, commercial, or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or the most effective way of doing something.
By way of example: we have all come to accept a series of actions that were hitherto unknown to us just a few years ago! Put on your mask; wash your hands; pull out the hand sanitizer, and liberally apply! These 4 steps became a Best Practice extraordinarily quickly, with many of us continuing to just ‘do’ it without thinking.
This new Best Practice didn’t even exist two years ago yet is now deemed to be the right thing to do. Hand and mask compliance is a Best Practice. But who deemed it so? We did. We each listened, learned, observed, and began adopting actions that became a part of our rituals. We, the people, began accepting these actions as behaviors that serve us.
"In essence, a Best Practice isn’t just a construct or list of steps but a series of decisions that are adopted and inculcated into people who, in turn, bless the steps into becoming the best way of handling a situation."
Best practices can then be considered, perhaps, as mass adoption actions. Infiltrated commentary that we all follow along with and just do as a part of conducting business.
But is it a Best Practice? To truly know if a best practice in any given situation, it must be tested; it must be analyzed; it must be deconstructed, and reviewed for improvements or changes. Just because something is deemed to be a Best Practice doesn’t make it so!
There is a rather boring yet powerful word in the English language – Sensible! The notion of sensible is founded on practicality, logic, down-to-earth approaches to life and function, and, in short, the ideal description for best practices.
"When a best practice works, it is because it is sensible. It is not necessarily glamorous, elegant, or frilly but ordinary, predictable, and rational."
Often best practices arise out of trial and error. When we exercise a process or function enough times, we trim the fat, remove the extraneous and leave intact the practical steps that take an action from beginning to end.
While the phrase Best Practices provides a degree of elevated thoughtful design to any function, most, have simply evolved ‘sensibly.’ So, how do you decide if a best practice is indeed ‘Best’? …By sensibly deconstructing the practice, checking the sequence, defining the steps, and reviewing the outcomes.
In short, apply your own kaizen. It is so easy for those with knowledge and power to define a practice, create a sequence, publish a paper or even command a population, but to be truly ‘Best,’ it must be adopted. Adoption is where the rubber hits the road!
If you want to have Best Practices in your business, think about sharing the steps, explaining the logic, and then watch to see how many of your team ‘adopt’ the practice.
A true best practice is one that is used, shared, and owned!
How is BEST measured? Actions into practice. After all, it is only a Best Practice if everyone follows it!
Dina O'Reilly is 4xi's Strategic Partnership & Growth lead, she is also our Project Management Office lead, and Ghostwriter in Residence, providing BLOGS+ services to clients. To learn more, contact Dina at email@example.com
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