Best practices: Those two words always send chills down my spine. It means I must write another report. I’m sure you’ve written those same reports — for your job, as part of your board of directors’ commitment or even as part of a volunteer committee. If you’re applying best practices, you’re basically studying and analyzing programs and protocols that work in someone else’s workplace that might work in your business or as part of an event.
But one big problem with adopting best practices is that we tend to keep them around forever, even when they may have run their course. Once something becomes one of our best practices, we can be rather blind to the fact that it may be faulty, ill-conceived and a waste of time. But we keep it around because it is one of our best practices.
So what should we do? Here are a couple of ideas. Monitor other companies in your field. What do they do well and how can you repurpose that? Ask for insiders’ ideas – that means those folks in your office, your members, your volunteers. Ask for the opinions of outsiders. Sometimes someone on the outside looking in has a greater vantage point. Above all, don’t fall for that old “That’s the way we’ve always done it around here.” That will get you going nowhere fast.
But here’s the latest idea making the rounds. Experts are telling us to study Worst Practices. Yep — it’s a thing. In this case, we need to analyze what didn’t work and try to figure out why. And the beauty of this is that you can look at what similar businesses or committees have done that didn’t work. We need to learn from their mistakes because we will never live long enough to make all those mistakes ourselves.
And other experts take it a step further. They say we should think about “next” practices — not best practices or worst practices. Best practices maintain the status quo. Worst practices show you what not to do. Next practices put you on a trajectory toward a prosperous future.
So Next Practices it is. Don’t be best…. don’t be worst. Be next! I feel better already, except I know I will still have to write that report.
Lynne Conlan is Executive Director of the SCC Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111.