I love a good rant, and today, we have a great innovation rant from our friend Woody Bendle. What’s got Woody ranting today? Best Practices. Note to self . . . don’t mention Best Practices around Woody. Here’s why:
An Innovation Rant about Best Practices by Woody Bendle
I don’t want to get off on an innovation rant here, but I was in an office the other day waiting for an appointment, picked up an industry trade publication, and started flipping through it. This was an industry trade publication COMPLETELY different from anything I would normally look at, but something caught my attention. Then I just got fired up. There was a piece talking about benchmarking and industry best practices. There it was . . . BEST PRACTICES!
I HATE the expression “Best Practices!”
Well, maybe I really don’t hate the expression, but rather what this phrase represents (or doesn’t) for innovation in many businesses today.
No, on second thought, I really do hate it!
How many times in your career have you heard, “What we need to do is some category benchmarking and our goal is to adopt industry best practices.” Blah-blah-blah… snore-ing!
Ultimately, what “best practices” really means is this: “Let’s try to be more like the guys who are currently kicking our butts, and maybe they won’t be kicking our butts anymore!”
That’s pretty inspiring huh?!
The problem with adopting someone else’s “best practices” is by the time you’ve adopted their practices and processes, you’re still behind! You can bet they’ve already developed a whole new set of best practices, and you’re going to have to catch up all over again! That’s why they’ve been the best!
And another thing!
Best is SINGULAR. Best is without peer! Best is best. You can’t have two bests! I checked the dictionary; Merriam-Webster will back me up on this one.
If you’re just trying to employ the current industry best practices from your own market, what you are maybe doing is adopting potentially better practices than the ones you’ve been using. That sort of sounds like process improvement to me! Can you say Six-Sigma? Which is fine! I’m a huge fan of Lean and Continuous improvement! But, this isn’t adopting industry best practices! Remember? There’s only one best! (see above)
I guess the thing that bothers me most about adopting or employing “best practices” is that it just feels really lazy. I mean come on! You’ve got to be better than that! Right?! Don’t your employees deserve better? Don’t your shareholders deserve better? And you can’t tell me that your customers don’t deserve better!
How about we CREATE our OWN Best Practices?! Our own unparalleled best practices! Practices that are soooo BEST that we’re the ones kicking butt!
Don’t jump the shark! Leapfrog your competition! Jump so far beyond your category’s current production possibilities frontier that you land in another galaxy!
Let’s do something no one has ever done before!
Let’s create practices and processes that no one has ever thought of before!
Let’s use our minds!
Let’s use our imaginations!
Let’s use our ingenuity!
Let’s get on with innovation and kick some butt! - Woody Bendle
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