So what is Best Practice and Good Practice? Is there a difference and do we really care?
Introduction to “Best Practice”
To help us out, let us look at some definitions:
- Definitions – Practice
To do or perform habitually or customarily; make a habit of practices courtesy in social situations.
To do or perform (something) repeatedly in order to acquire or polish a skill: practice a dance step.
To give lessons or repeated instructions to; drill: practised the students in handwriting.
To carry out in action; observe
- Definition – Good
Being positive or desirable in nature; not bad or poor: a good experience;
Having the qualities that are desirable or distinguishing in a particular thing
Serving the desired purpose or end;
Superior to the average
- Definition – Best
Surpassing all others in excellence, achievement, or quality; most excellent: the best performer
Most satisfactory, suitable, or useful; most desirable: the best solution
Most highly skilled
- Definitions – Best Practice
A technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to the desired result
A technique, method, process, activity, incentive, or reward that is believed to be more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. when applied to a particular condition or circumstance.
What is Best Practice?
Using the phrase “Best Practice” suggests that there is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other.
The idea is that with proper processes, checks, and testing, the desired outcome can be delivered with fewer problems and unforeseen complications.
In addition, they can also be defined as the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people.
The term is considered by some as a business buzzword used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that multiple organisations can use for management, policy, and especially software systems. Furthermore, this is often true within the public and NGO/ not-for-profit sectors.
What are the benefits of Best Practice?
A best practice strategy is one where the organisation strives to copy those deemed to be proficient in a given activity. This can help your organisation to:
- Respond more quickly to changes or innovations in your market space
- Become more competitive
- Increase sales and development in new markets
- Manage and reduce costs and become more efficient
- Improve the skills of your people
- Use appropriate technology more effectively
- Reduce waste and improve quality
Tools to improve Best Practice
There are several business tools that you can use to achieve management best practice, including:
- External benchmarking
- Quality and other external awards
- Strategic planning
- Performance management
Achieving Best Practice
We know that Best Practice means finding – and using – the best ways of working to achieve your organisations’ objectives. It involves keeping up to date with the ways that successful organisations operate and measuring your ways of working against those used by the market leaders.
Methods of Best Practice include:
- Benchmarking – learning from and through the experience of others
- Standards – Best practice through achievement of standards
But does this really stack up?
Does “BEST PRACTICE” actually exist?
In business, HR and consulting we through around the term “Best Practice” without considering the context or the goals required. What is “Best” in one situation is not “Best” in another.
And then there is “Good” practice – or more what is expected of people in a given situation. how can we measure the difference between “Good” and “Best” practice? if we cannot then do either actually exist?
What makes the situation even more confusing is when organisations say that something is “best practice” when all they are doing is confirming with the rules of the sector or profession – sorry folks but that is not Best Practice just “Practice!”.
Often what is quoted as “Best Practice” is in fact “current thinking”, which may or may not actually be “Best”.
Domains of Best Practice
Often the term “Best Practice” is used in Change management, Transformation, HR, HRD, Government/ Public sector, not-for-profit, Professions – accounting, consultancy, health-care etc.
The sooner we as professionals start saying what something is… rather than justifying why we do something in a particular way as “Best Practice” the sooner we can move away from meaningless jargon and say “This is the best way for us…”
“Best” implies that research has been carried out and a full investigation and analysis has taken place – if this is true let us start seeing references in all documents that claim to espouse “Current Thinking”, “Good” or “Best” practice