Friday Feeling: The Value of Best Practices

What’s the value of best practices? Some people live and breathe them; other people roundly criticize them. What’s the story?

Best practices are competence in a box. They help us to quickly get up to speed on documented, reviewed, and approved ways of doing things. When you’re first starting out in anything, this is a godsend, to become good at your job quickly. For organizations where everyone isn’t performing optimally, best practices are a necessity.

Over time, as you move from beginner to practitioner to advanced practitioner, best practices can potentially stifle innovation. By definition, you are not trying anything new if it’s already written down in a best practice. That’s when it’s time to explore, experiment, and innovate – and then codify your learnings into new, updated best practices.

Learn how lessons from the martial arts apply to corporate best practices in the video.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s Friday feeling some thoughts about best practices what’s the value of best practices some people live and breathe them other people roundly criticized him a crap all

over them say that the worst thing for a company’s what’s the story

best practices

if you think about best practices or competence in a box right they are they are co defied ways proven methods for accomplishing a result or for

doing a process in a repeatable verifiable way they help us get up to speed quickly on documented reviewed approved ways of doing things

and if you think about just how how wild west a lot of stuff is inside of companies

that’s not a bad thing especially if you’re new I was at a client recently as a new person at the table and they’re saying they’re just getting up to speed and and that’s someone who really needs that those best practices here’s the book of how to do your job how to get good at your job quickly follow the recipe and and you’ll be able to bake the cake as it were if you have an organization where everyone isn’t performing optimally where everything was in firing on all cylinders again best practices

are

a necessity to get everybody sometimes on the literal same page. This is how we do the thing

in the martial arts when you’re first starting out. You know you learn how to punch and you learn how to to block and avoid and get out

of all sorts of grabs and stuff.

There’s defined written down practice ways of things that most of the time work for most of the people and those would be the best practices in the martial arts we would call them kata, pre arranged forms and there to help you learn the muscle memory help you learn the basic good habits you’re supposed to have. And the best practices are no different in the business. They are the business version of a kata you learn the basic good habits that you’re supposed to have.

Now here’s where

we can look to the martial arts for understanding where best practices are not helpful

as you move from beginner to practitioner to advanced practitioner and then eventually depending on whether you want to not even become a teacher

best practices can stifle innovation, because at a certain point in the martial arts, you the product is the Japanese term is a shoe hottie. You learn the form, you master the form you very area before we make variations, you learn all the variations and the possibilities of that form. And eventually leave the form behind you’ve, you’ve learned it so well that it’s become a part of you is unconscious. And you don’t need to think you know, left hand right hand left block, right punch, you just do it because you’ve done it so much. It’s like, it’s like walking right

in the beginning of your watch a baby though, kind of very tentative, and like you have to

literally remind them left foot now, right foot, left foot, yep. And, and, you know, try and keep your head up, don’t fall over. By the time you’re, you know, five years old or 10 years old, 15 years old. Walking is an unconscious thing, you just do it, you follow the best practices of walking for one foot in front of the other

in companies. Best practices are essential

for people who are new in their

job, or for getting people to adhere to a specific way

of doing things. This is the way we do it.

But

if innovation is important to your company, if new products, new services, new ideas, new ways of doing things are important your company and there’s that it should be part of your company’s DNA, then best practices eventually become inhibitory.

By definition, if you’re not trying anything new short is you’re already It’s already in the manual, right? If it’s already written down, you are not going to create something new, you’re repeating what’s already been done. And that’s inhibitory, to be able to explore, to experiment to innovate. And then codify your learnings into new and updated best practices.

How do you know when you’re there, you’re there when everyone can do the basics.

So again, to the martial arts, you can’t teach someone

who’s a white belt, the most advanced spear fighting technique that’s just going to go badly for everybody,

you absolutely can teach somebody that once they put in their 20 years, and they’ve gotten all the basics down, and they can do the basics. And it’s, it’s, it’s automatic, it’s, it’s baked into their their brains, and they’ve learned the variations of the basics and they can do all those, then it’s time for them to to leave those basics behind not to stop doing them but because they don’t need to focus on you know, left hand right hand in accompany

you look for the person who has gotten good at their job, they’re producing output, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, and they start talking about things like where can I get some more training? Where can I get some more professional development? Where can I get what can I learn a new thing, can I go to a conference and stuff you see if you have that curiosity, combined with the competence that’s when you say, Okay, this person needs variations of best practices, or this person may even be able to start leaving best practices behind in the sense of, Okay, now you’re going to start innovating now, you’re going to start creating new stuff, net new things,

it’s difficult, it is difficult, because if your skills as a manager

or an executive are to optimize and tune what is already there, which, by the way, is an extremely important skill,

then managing innovation is very different. Because you by definition, are managing things that are not fully baked, that are not

clean that are not codified in machine learning, and, and everything that’s happening in advanced marketing technology. Today, every day is a new day, every day, there’s something new every day, there’s something different and it can be very challenging to manage that, like, Oh, hey, look at this thing that was using yesterday no longer works the same way. It’s completely different. It’s like when you open your phone, and you know, all your apps update. And like,

I don’t even know how to use the camera on my phone. I knew that’s really different.

And so

the goal is for us, as managers, as leaders, as executives to

have a center of innovation, have best practices and use the center of innovation, to test best practices, to refine them to optimize them, or maybe even to throw old ones away that no longer generate the results we want, and build new ones. Test, experiment, innovate, explore, and then write down what we’ve learned and turn those into the new best practices.

Best practices like anything are

not applicable to everyone all the time. But they do work for most people most of the time, and so

let’s avoid criticizing them until we make sure that we ourselves and our companies have mastered the basics.

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