What is a Best Practice?
John Spacey, updated on March 19, 2021
A best practice is a process or technique that is generally accepted to be the best known solution to a common business problem. In many cases, best practices allow an innovative new technique to spread across an industry. However, they are widely criticized for being a hallmark of business complacency. Common criticisms of best practices include:
1. BuzzwordBest practice is often used as a buzzword to defend an approach without explaining its value. Saying that an approach is a "best practice" is relatively meaningless and is overused as a decision making justification.
2. Standards AvoidanceA best practice is essentially a weak standard. Anyone can come up with a best practice but a standard implies a formal acceptance of an approach by a standards body. Standards have typically undergone greater scrutiny but are often more difficult to implement than a best practice. For example, standards may be associated with expensive and time consuming certification processes. Best practices are often used as a lightweight approach to loosely embrace a standard. This approach may be viewed in a negative light by those who advocate strict adherence to a particular standard.
3. Resistance To ChangeBest practices represent past approaches that aren't necessarily optimal approaches. They are commonly used as an argument to resist change and innovation.
How To Use Best PracticesBest practices have value as a business reference as they represent the way that things are generally done across an industry. They can be used as a benchmark with which to compare new approaches.
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