Unicorns and Best Practices

Thursday, February 26, 2009 by Tripp Babbitt
The title of this blog implies a correlation . . . meaning they are myths.  However, I am open to anyone that has seen a unicorn, Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, Yeti, etc. because there is money to be made and maybe this is the reason the term "best practice" is used.  Let’s take a look at best practice.

To me it implies there is one best way to do something and the search is over to find a better way.  I don’t buy it, and Taiichi Ohno (Toyota Production System) didn’t buy it as he believed there was always a better way.  W. Edwards Deming wouldn’t have liked it because it lead to copying.

Most myths are harmless.  However, because organizations quit learning and stop thinking the "best practice" concept can be damaging.  This means that every system (organization) has what it needs to improve and other systems "best practices" probably are not the best for your system.  Your system does not have the details of the "best practice" or the same culture, customers, technology, people, processes, etc.  Many consultants and Information technology organizations will tell you they have the "best practice" for your problem.  This seems to be a big part of technology and organizational change management programs.  A systems thinking organization knows better and that there are no shortcuts to improvement.  Further, it often leads to bad results and it is certainly bad method.

A better way to improve service and achieve corporate cost reductions is to understand customer demand, value and flow for your system.  A download for Understanding Your Organization as a system is available at www.newsystemsthinking.com and it is free.  Myths like unicorns, monsters, godzilla and best practices are best kept out of organizations trying to create profit.

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