Forget Best Practice, Think Always Of Learning Next Practice

Often you hear the request made: “Can you give us a best practice snapshot; we would like to get a sense of where we are”.

The trouble with best practice is you are looking at someone else’s practices and these are highly individual, made up of different groups of methodologies, processes, rules, theories, values, and concepts. These together have provided that specific company a level of success that others – mostly competitors – begin to notice.

There is no such thing as what they have it, you need to copy and have the same.

We all get caught up in best practices, you can’t simply pick up and plug and play, as one organization’s initiative is never the same set of conditions or positioning that others can simply copy.

We desire the “one-size fits all” as a comfort blanket, it makes our innovation lives easier. Many consultants love this request, as they do not need to apply the real skills of discernment, subject matter expertise, and the difficult challenge of peeling away a client’s practice to understand how they can rebuild them to become unique, into a leading practice that cannot be copied.

Here does lie a true competitive component and so many organizations seek to apply someone else’s practice so they can end up as “same” practice.

Moving from “Best Practice” to “Next Practice”

We are all presently learning a new practice. We need to find our individual ways, not copy someones else as this renders us as laggards or imitators, and who wants to have that label?  The past best practices are now a very poor playbook for the future digital connected world. We need to ditch much of the endeavors that make up a legacy of past practice, and think forward, to which the term next practice becomes the learning spot.

No one can maintain the past, much of our systems are rooted in the 20th century, in markets that were predictable and where supply and demand were simply managed to seek out the status quo.

We are facing such an unprecedented change and technology is re-writing the rule book in everything we are going to do. Many have argued it is a foundational shift and today we are struggling to articulate or codify the shifts. We seem to be moving from the world of complicated into the complex. It is hitting us in multiple ways, in scale, in speed, and across the whole organization. Technology and digital are changing business dimensions significantly.

We are moving from “pre-connectivity” to “post-connectivity

Let’s look at what is occurring in the digital transformations we are all undertaking. Shown below are two wonderful paradigm shifts we need to take to grasp digital transformation.

The first contribution is from a short article I came across in my research written for information-age by Carl Bate, managing partner, digital strategy, and transformation, Atos

This emerging shift in leadership techniques, from best to next practice, from pre-connectivity to post-connectivity, is shown here.

Best practices ‘pre-connectivity’ Next practices ‘post-connectivity’
Business Processes 1. Value Systems
‘Known’ data 2. Weak signals, probe, sense, and respond
Primary perspective on the parts 3. Primary perspective on the whole
Theory X management 4. Theory Y management
The organizational model 5. Network analysis and social capital
Enterprise Architecture 6. Behaviour Based Systems
Stability & predictability 7. Agility, adaptability & innovation
Change Management 8. Adoption Engineering
As-Is and To-Be grand designs 9. Next state, evolving, “adaptive change”
Discipline specialization 10. Cross-discipline collaboration
IT systems 11. Information and socio-technical systems
Business/IT divide mgt & translation 12. Multi-discipline common language
Business & technology specification 13. Agile product development
Users of technology 14. Participants in information systems
Bespoke and corporate technology 15. Service and consumerized technology
Fail-Safe 16. Safe-Fail
Internally focused first 17. Externally focused first
Web model as a bolt-on to the existing 18. Living on the Web

The practices of ‘best’ on the left-hand side are the very practices that have fostered industrialization and led to global connectivity.

The irony is that these practices do not naturally foster external and connected views, which are essential to working in the connected world that the best practices have helped create.

The second contribution to the shift we need in our practices.

The second contribution to thinking next practice comes from a really promising book by David L Rogers called “the Digital Transformation Playbook”, recently published in April 2016, and he is offering a superb list of changes to consider as we move from the Analog to the Digital Era.

The author offers a view on how digital forces are reshaping five key domains of strategy—customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. These five domains describe the landscape of digital transformation for business today.

Many of the fundamental assumptions are outdated and he is suggesting we move from the Analog to Digital era, with his chapters in the book to work through these. This I think is such “next practice” thinking to get us in the digital era mindset.

To achieve this shift you need to build your own understanding and practice your values, beliefs, and pursuit for YOUR business model

not best practice but next practice.png

David Rogers sums up the change we are all facing from digital transformation to reflect on changing practices

We live in what is commonly referred to as a digital age. An overlapping ecosystem of digital technologies —each one building on those before, and catalyzing those to come—is transforming not only our personal and communal lives but the dynamics of business for organizations of every size and in every industry.

Digital technologies are transforming not just one aspect of business management, but virtually every aspect. They are rewriting the rules of customers, competition, data, innovation, and value. Responding to this change requires not just a piecemeal approach, but a total integrated effort—a process of holistic digital transformation within the firm.”

The key is to look forward and recognize past best practices are just not relevant today. We need to look forward and seek out those “next practices” that are emerging. These are our own and they are the “right” practices for you as each of us offers something unique, otherwise what chance will we ever have?


** This post was adapted and was first published as a larger piece on the Hype Innovation Blog site

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