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The phrase “best practice” comes up all the time and is often used to justify a change. Occasionally, it is used to repackage old items to sell at a higher price. However, the meaning of ‘best practice’ is far too ethereal to be considered as a viable reason for action and certainly should not be used to drive change or disrupt common practice.

Before entertaining ‘best practice’ test some of the alternatives;

Question everything

Establishments that adjust and thrive often question current methods instead of just accepting them. Such internal clashes are positive as it lets them test their expectations and recognize their weaknesses. It becomes more difficult when if we see the competitions business model, it is tempting to simply copy and paste, without finding out why it worked for them.

If a client or a coworker supports the notion of best practice, ask them how they believe it will work for the business. If they bring a valid answer that does not follow the “it worked for them,” line, then test the idea against your success criteria? And if it does, incorporate the effective ideas and trash the rest.

Test with your customers

Ideas don’t magically appear when you’re stuck inside the boardroom. Go out and talk to your customers to understand what motivates them. Try to talk about all the problems they’re facing while they use your products, and show them your own solution. Watch them as they use it, and see them first hand working effectively or struggling. Ask them for advice.

Embrace risk

It is true that innovation is hard and it doesn’t come without its risks. But, taking risks may not sit well with you. Someone’s job may just depend on a particular decision, or your competitors might outsmart you if any failure should occur.

Many companies consider the benefits and risk, so when the risks overshadow the benefits, they look for an option that is less risky. Instead of seeing a risk as a downside, you can turn it around and see it as a great opportunity. If the risk provides a good return, seriously consider it.

Work with people outside your job role

Running workshops periodically will draw out ideas you never thought of. Emerging with the next great idea is challenging, but working together will ease the process, and you can generate some amazing and unique solutions.

Before bandying around the words “Best Practice” consider the alternative approaches above.