Best Practices Plan: spreading a great idea

Good news is spreading quickly

News of the invention of the wheel must have gone in all directions as fast as horse or camel could run. Those who heard about its advantages over the nest and the sled immediately took over. And once it was adopted, it was adapted: made lighter, stronger and faster. Wheels were soon attached to axles and then to pivot axles.

The idea catches on

Then transportation lost its monopoly on the new technology, and wheels helped make pottery, lift buckets from wells, send ships, grind grain, keep track of time. Even now, the process of adopting and adjusting the wheel continues as new applications are ingeniously modified, improved and applied. The statement is certainly true: “Without the wheel, today’s civilization would be impossible.” [1]

No wheel, little progress

In the meantime, hundreds and perhaps thousands of years existed on islands in the South Pacific, America and other isolated places, cultures without any knowledge of the wheel. Their technology lagged because they still faced that first, high hurdle. Humans have always been better modifiers than inventors. Why reinvent the wheel when someone has already done the hard work?

Best practices needed

Just like civilization, your company is on a journey; yours is one of continuous quality improvement. It is “a journey with a clear beginning but no end, and all your employees are fellow travelers. The level of progress depends on how well you live according to your core values: such as your company’s family, commitment to quality, customer focus, technology, integrity and respect, and teamwork These values ​​overlap, merge and merge when it comes to sharing, evaluating and implementing best practices.

Definition is important

What are best practices? Unless we have a clear idea of ​​what they look like, we won’t recognize them when we see them. According to the American Productivity and Quality Center, best practices are “those practices that have been shown to deliver superior results; selected by a systematic process; and assessed as exemplary, good, or demonstrated successfully.” [2]

Of course, this definition still leaves a lot of room for disagreement about what is “best” and what is not. According to C. Ashton in Managing Best Practices, “best” is always contextual or situation specific. ” [3] A more advanced, multi-layered approach to defining best practice comes from Chevron: [4]

  • Good idea – unproven but intuitively logical; could have a positive impact on business performance; worth investigating.
  • Good practice – technology, methodology, procedure or process already implemented that has measurably improved the measurement results of an organization.
  • “Proven” best practice – good practice that is the best approach, based on analysis of process performance data.

For more than the past decade, companies across the country and around the world have developed, identified, implemented and adapted best practices as a means of achieving the excellence of efficiency and superior customer service that sets them apart from their competitors. Your company is undoubtedly on the same quest.

Best practice transfer process

A recent study identified six steps involved in best practice transfer: ” [5]

  1. Search
    This step involves finding the best in class solutions from a variety of sources, both internal and external to your business. Your company’s SOPs are a great resource (hopefully available on your intranet) available to and from employees across your sites and regions. Success stories in newsletters and prize presentations are another internal source. Good external search resources can include newsletters and magazines, business contacts, trade shows and workshops, new hires, “boomerang” employees. ” [6] and outsource contacts. ” [7] If you look for best practices, your search will certainly pay off. ” [8]
  2. To evaluate
    This is a crucial but essential step, although it is highly dependent on the specific situation and the people involved. On the one hand, there is a tendency to assume “as we’ve always done it, that’s the best”. On the other hand, the equally questionable assumption is “it must be better because it is new.” [9]
  3. Validate
    Measurements help to eliminate this kind of subjectivity. Does the department that is already active in practice have higher productivity, less downtime, faster customer response or fewer reworks than the same department in another location that has not taken over? The evidence must be convincing that the refund of the change will far exceed its cost. And once a practice has been validated as ‘best’, it should be published. This will encourage others to not only adopt it, but also to come up with best practices themselves.
  4. Implement
    Practice must be documented (usually in an SOP) and usually someone who is already practicing should be involved in training others. During the implementation step, team members should strive to adapt the practice to local needs and changing circumstances, and analyze the opportunities for improvement.

    A word of warning: While “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery,” copying someone else’s success doesn’t always work. As David Bracken, director of Mercer Delta Consulting put it, “I’ve always been skeptical about taking tools designed in one environment and using them in another organization … more often than not his ‘copying’ attempts doomed to fail.” [10]

    Not only can the copied practice suffer from “copy-of-a-copy” deterioration, but the people who are imposed on the practice very well lack the motivation of the group that first developed and implemented the practice.

  5. Revised
    Once a best practice is connected, it needs to be revised from time to time. All processes – even the best – become obsolete over time and what is now “the best” may not remain “the best” for long. As one study noted, “‘best’ is a moving target in today’s world.” [11]
  6. Routine
    Making a best practice a standard practice is what the transfer process is all about. Successful adoption means that a best practice is integrated into the culture of what it means to do business with your company. What once stood above the ceiling now becomes the floor on which we stand to reach even higher.

In addition to best practices

Identifying, evaluating, adopting or adapting, implementing, assessing and routinizing best practices can lead to significant improvements in the way you do business. This strategy can help you be more efficient, improve your profitability, eliminate errors and, most importantly, increase the level of your service to the external customer.

However, one is provided. Peter Skarzynski and Peter Williamson of Strategos warn that all this application of best practice can lead to what they call “strategic convergence”, a phenomenon where every competitor within an industry is moving its practices and procedures ever closer to those of its rivals. Their survey of more than 500 CEOs shows that such convergence is taking place in many industries. The ultimate result would be the elimination of virtually everything that distinguishes one competitor from another. [12]

Their solution? Innovation! The company committed to innovation will always be able to distinguish itself from the competition. They offer ten rules on how to innovate successfully in their article ‘Innovation as Revolution’. [13]

Another important caveat is that sharing best practice is not the only tool you have to achieve excellence. Your people are even more important. You should continue to hire people with a great attitude and then provide them with the training they need to be experts at work. Then you need to recruit them again so they stay with the company. This hiring process means that your company will become the “employer of choice” with great managers, a great work environment and great benefits. [14] The best people – your employees – will drive your best practices and advance you in your quality journey. Your company’s quest for best practices Your business must be proactive in seeking best practices. The main points of the program include:

  • Internal search – Investigating best practices should start with what is already being done internally, with an emphasis on improving perceived weaknesses.
  • Sharing of information – Best practice news should be spread across your company through department manager meetings and senior manager meetings, the publication of SOPs on your intranet, employee newsletter and email announcements, employee meetings and as many other methods as you can think of.
  • Business and management support – The identification and transfer of best practices should be supported by your board of directors and senior managers by promoting the development of SOPs across the company, encouraging alignments and proactively supporting all quality initiatives. Business support also needs to be strong to make improvements by identifying and implementing best practices.

An ongoing search

Your search for best practice should be continuous as you strive to strengthen the weak, make the good even better, and connect the best. You should also look for ways to adapt best-in-class practices to new situations and circumstances. The general direction of your improvement process is away from isolation to interconnection, away from static to dynamic and away from top-down management to empowering all employees. You must make measurable progress in all three of these aspects; engaging the cooperation of all employees will accelerate this progress.

Copyright © 2005 Steve Singleton, all rights reserved.


  1. World Book, s.v. ‘Wheel.’
  2. Yasar F. Jarrar and Mohamed Zairi, “Transfer of best practices for future competitiveness: a study of best practices”, Total quality management 11, 4-6 (July 2000): S734ff.
  3. Ashton, Manage best practices (London: Business Intelligence, 1998), quoted in Jarrar and Zairi.
  4. As quoted in Jarrar and Zairi.
  5. “Identifying and Transferring Internal Best Practices,” published by the American Productivity and Quality Center in 1997. This white paper is summarized in Jarrar and Zairi.
  6. A “boomerang” employee is someone who leaves to work for another company and then returns. The returning employee can prove to be a valuable resource for their previous company’s best practices because they could compare the practices they learned at the other company from the perspective of those they knew at your company. Karen Lee, “Tales of boomerang workers on the rise”, Employee Benefit News 14, 6 (May 2000): 63; Tiffany Kjos, “Boomerang workers on the rise in a tight market”, Within Tucson Business 9, 52 (March 20, 2000): 14.
  7. For outsourcing as a source of best practices, see Peter Bendor-Samuel, “Leverage Best Practices”, Executive Excellence 18, 2 (February 2000): 17. For a case study of an excellent external search for best practices, see Michelle M. Rodier, “A quest for best practices”, IIE solutions 32, 2 (February 2000): 36.
  8. Some organizations formalize this search process by requiring managers to make a timely decision for each best practice offered: to investigate it; adopt or adapt it and say when; or to reject it and explain why. They then monitor which departments are most active in applying best practices and which are opposed to change. Thomas A. Stewart, “Knowledge worth $ 1.25 billion”, Fortune 142, 13 (November 27, 2000): 302.
  9. According to Ed Yager, a consultant and trainer on best practice implementation, we should evaluate the validity of so-called best practices according to three categories: 1) the known acquaintance – what we know we know or think we know; 2) the known unknowns – our awareness of what we don’t know, but wish we did; and 3) the unknown strangers – of which we are not aware, but which we could really use if we knew. “Adopted best practice”, Enterprise / Salt Lake City 30, 28 (January 15, 2001): 11. Those who are best against best practice tend to absolute category 1, because they think their knowledge is broad and deep; minimize category 2, assuming that what they don’t know is unimportant or irrelevant; and even deny the possibility of category 3 existence.
  10. David Bracken, “Linkage Inc.’s Best Practices in Leadership Development Handbook [Book Review], ” Personal psychology 53, 4 (Winter 2000): 1026.
  11. Jarrar and Zairi.
  12. As Daniel Jennings quoted, “Benchmarking best practices may not be the best practice for your business”, EBN 1254 (March 19, 2001): 47.
  13. Their ten rules are: 1) seeking innovation at the business model level; 2) Listen to new voices; 3) Work back from the future; 4) Diverge and then come together; 5) Use multiple lenses to generate new learning opportunities and opportunities; 6) Create a portfolio of options for the future; 7) Evaluate new opportunities using different criteria; 8) Embed innovation through practice; 9) Give a passion for creating the future; and 10) break the rules. Peter Skarzynski and Dr. Peter Williamson, “Innovation as a revolution”, Economic Bulletin (April 2000).
  14. Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg, “Best Practices”, Business credit 102, 3 (March 2000): 52.

Source by Steve Singleton