5 Issues with “Best Practices”


Everyone knows about “best practices” when it comes to the business world. Everyone knows about them because they have been, more or less, unchanged for years even as the way we do business is changing almost monthly. While there is certainly a lot of truth and knowledge to be gained from these practices, they’re not as useful as everyone claims them to be. Below are 5 major issues with the practice of following best practices.

  • They rarely ever work: The sad truth is that even though best practices are seen as the best, they never work as much as we’d like them to. This isn’t to say that they never work, just that they’re most effective when dealing with specific issues, people, and systems. Make sure you’re not applying these best practices blindly across the board or you’ll find that they might not fit the problem you’re dealing with and very well may not work.
  • It’s for followers, not leaders: One of the major issues with best practices is that it isn’t for leaders and people who become them. Best practices are handed down from previous leaders and generations and cut down on creativity and ingenuity. If you’re having an issue that needs solving, look to use the newly created technologies and knowledge that are available to you instead drawing from a playbook that may have been written when the internet was still in its infancy. Also know that different generations require different approaches for maximum efficiency and millennials are more complicated than most.
  • They cut down on innovation: If you had a book that gave you answers to all of your problems, why on earth would you spend the time, resources, and energy looking for new solutions when you have pre-existing ones? One of the issues with best practices is that people use them without even bothering to improve on them or try new, better solutions that may come from their own team.
  • Change is internal and cultural: Many best practices are applied in companies that they were not created in. For change to be effective, it needs to come from within the company and probably has to change the company culture a bit. People can get resentful if they feel the heavy and foreign hand of another company.
  • They don’t come with a manual: Just because you have found some practices that would definitely help your company doesn’t mean you’ve won. Many best practices don’t actually come with advice in regards to how to implement them effectively and efficiently. You might be aiming for the right target but you end up taking the wrong path, you very well may cause more harm than good.

While these are 5 issues with best practices, that’s not to say that they’re bad. There is definitely knowledge to be gleaned from the experiences and solutions afforded by best practices and the people who came up with them. Just remember to take them all with a grain of salt and make sure you try to fit them to your company and situation instead of the other way around.

If you’d like to read and learn more, you can do so here.