Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Demystifying Best Practices

What makes one business more successful than the other? Surely, the more successful business is doing something better than the a less successful one.
This question has probably entered the minds over every business owner at one time or another. A good manager would probably have thought of this at least once.
At some point, someone notices that the more successful businesses are doing roughly the same thing. It's a simple enough correlation to make: good practices result in successful business. It's not far from the adage, "you do good, you get rewarded". Thus, best practices was born.
Books are written about best practices in specific industries. In seminars, consultants drone on endlessly about them. Today companies throw around the buzzword "best practice" around until they feel meaningless. But is Best Practices really meaningless? Undoubtedly, they do work for the companies that became successful. But will they work for you?
Before proceeding, let's get a bit of perspective. First of all the concept of best practices is not new. It's not even a few decades new. It has been around for a while but in various forms. The most common form for Best Practices is a form of benchmark. When something that produces a result is measured, the measurements that is recorded when the best results are produced is called a benchmark. Think of Best Practices as the best benchmark of benchmarks.
Benchmarks comes from scientific management. This is when the scientific process is applied to ways of working in the search of productivity and efficiency. Benchmarks were recorded performances of a certain process that created the best results of a particular output. Other similar processes that produced the same output are judged on how close it was to the benchmark. Then, the benchmarks of different processes producing the same output were compared. The result is a winner, the best process. Quite often, each of these processes have their own peculiarities. So they were generalized into Best Practices. Best Practices within the same industry were put together to act as a template, a so-called template for success.
But is following these templates enough to make a business successful? Of course, not. These Best Practices occur with certain organisations under certain conditions. Organisation refers to the workers and how they are organized around the Best Practice. Their understanding of the process and what they do to carry them out is crucial to the Best Practice. They take part in main process or the supporting processes. Supporting processes is part of the conditions in which the Best Practice occur. Other conditions include availability of resources, tools or capital and the flexibility of the Best Practice in meeting changes to these conditions.
Each Best Practice have their unique organizational requirements and conditions. Understanding what makes the Best Practice successful and putting them in place are required in making the Best Practices work successfully.
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