“Best Practice” has got to be one of the top-ten worst phrases used in our industry. Maybe even top-three. Besides being the buzzword-bingo center square freebie, the very phrase itself is intrinsically misleading. If anything, these words serve to stop any further discussion, innovation, or thought.
Imagine if Apple followed best practices for mp3 players with the iPod. What if Walmart strove for best practices in supply chain management? Facebook with electronic communication?
It seems everyone tosses around this phrase when they really mean to say “I’ve seen good success with…”, or “In my experience…”. Proposing a solution in one of these ways invites open discussion, provides the freedom to explore new ideas, and creates opportunities to innovate.
In contrast, the statement that something is a “Best Practice” implies it cannot be improved upon and represents the only right way of accomplishing a goal. Such a notion is completely absurd and only stifles creative thought and innovation.
The next time someone labels their preferred way of doing something a “Best Practice”, give yourself a moment and realize that this person has very likely stopped thinking critically and is currently on auto-pilot. Remember one simple truth:
Excellence means doing something everyone else is not.