Don’t Get Mesmerized by Best Practices, They’re Perilous
I am not a fan of benchmarking.
The practice of picking “best in class” and trying to copy what they do (a “best practice”) in hopes that whatever benefits they realize will fall to you is a risky business.
Here are a few questions I have for those who choose to “follow the leader”.
Who decides who is best in class? So-called (and often self proclaimed) experts in a particular organizational function typically are the source opinion of who is “best” and thus should be copied. Sales experts proclaim who is best at CRM and advocate their processes and methodologies to all sales teams. Or they pick a best practise and encourage its adoption by everyone. Dead end: you don’t know if a best practice is best al all.
Why would you presume that your culture and climate will foster successful adoption of a practise used by another? Do you really think any two organizations are the same? If you do, think again. Dead end: applying a boiler plate solution from one to another is risky (and insane).
How does copying foster a culture of creativity and innovation? Let’s copy the other guy and label the activity as innovation. Dead end: copying requires ZERO imagination and original thought; anyone can do it.
What strategic value does fast following create for an organization? At best, the copycat might realize some incremental operational improvements, but that’s it. Dead end: copying does NOTHING to take an organization to a higher level of competitive performance; strategic value = ZERO.
How does adopting a best practice establish a competitive advantage for the copycat? It doesn’t. If other members of the herd are actually successful in adopting the same perilous practice, everyone will have the same capabilities. No one will stand out. Dead end: stop fooling yourself that “sameness adoption” makes you special. It doesn’t and you’re not.
Organization’s need to start asking “How can we be different?” not “What’s the best practice and how can we copy it?”.
Start looking at a perilous practice as something to BE DIFFERENT from.
Look at the copy solution as starting point on the journey to separate yourself from the common crowd.
Build your culture around the question “How can we use this perilous practise to create something remarkable and unique that works for our special circumstances?”
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.
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