A Scenario for Turning a Best Practice into a Not-So-Great Practice
An organization I’ve heard of wisely seeks best-practice models in order to improve performance in many areas of the business. Representatives of the organization attend conferences, do site visits, or depend on consultants to acquaint them with promising best practices. The members of the organization frequently encounter practices that are significantly different from what they’re used to–which is the purpose of seeking best practices in the first place. I take it for granted that there’s no real improvement without real change.
In assessing practices that might be taken home for use in the original organization, its members “test-fit” the ideas according to “what we think will work best around here.” This is natural; we all do it.
Imagine–as a thought experiment–a group of organizational representatives assessing a list of several potential best practices. I have observed a tendency to import the practices that can most feasibly be implemented, within the original organization’s culture and context. However, the practices that are the easiest fit by definition will create the least change. And it’s not the “least change” that will make a big difference.
It may be that the practices that are the greatest stretch–potentially the hardest to implement “around here”–that would make the difference and help reach the goals set by the exercise in the first place. Yet these, for this organization, are the least likely to be imitated, while the practices that are imported make little difference in the long run.
You tell me: is this typical or just an unfortunate special case?