Best Practice, Next Practice; A Conflict?

August 3, 2010

Personally? I don’t think so. But lets back up for one second.

There are arguments that if your business is relying on frameworks of Best Practices, that it is too late for you – you are a dead business walking.

The argument is a valid one too. By definition best practices are practices that others have already done, practices that someone else has already codified. So the argument is;  if you are only doing what everyone else has already done, by definition you are not making any leap to Next Practices, meaning improvement, innovation or ideas that change the game and bring competitive advantage and growth.

One Mistake?

I believe that there is one mistake in that argument. Because I believe that both best practices and next practices are required.

Ask your self some questions. In your business;

How do you generate revenue? What is your core competency? What is the expertise that people or businesses pay you for? And what are your strategic goals?

In my opinion these questions will drive where best practices are applicable, and where next practices should be looked at.

Next Practices

Innovation, improvements or these  Next Practices should be looked at in all facets of your business value proposition, or your core. As one example; if you are a manufacturing organization, innovation in your core could include new and improved materials, new techniques, novel approaches to supply chain management etc.

Successful next practice innovation in these areas could lead to new lines of business, lower material or manufacturing costs that allow entry into new markets – any one of a number of strategic options.

Best Practices

For our manufacturing organization mentioned above – tell me, what value is there in pursuing next practice innovation in their payroll process? That compilation of tasks that go from time sheet to paycheck?

I would argue; Not much.

This payroll process may be performed in house, through an outsourced partner, or combination of the two. But for this process, best practice to reduce cost and increase efficiency is the way to go.

If your organization is a payroll processing supplier? Then that is your core – for you, looking at next practice innovation makes sense.

A Real Example?

Look at Apple! (AAPL) the iPod, iPad & iPhone are cherished as innovative and beautiful products. But guess what? Apple does not manufacture them! Their core is the design and the idea, and the operating system, plus the network environment such as iTunes. Apple defines next practice in all of these areas.

But manufacturing?

Best practice for them is to outsource to manufacturing partners who can do the job.

So the next practice for these outsource partners is too keep up with new materials, techniques and processes that allow them to say; “sure we can do that!” when Apple comes calling with the next big idea.

The Takeaway

In your core revenue generating processes – standing still is no longer an option. Next practices that move the strategic bar are absolutely necessary.

But for reducing friction costs and improving efficiencies in those non core processes?

Can you think of a good reason to reinvent the wheel?

Why Reinvent The Wheel?

Photo Credit Lady AnnDerground via flickr


2 Responses to “Best Practice, Next Practice; A Conflict?”

  1. elliotross Says:

    I would have to agree regarding customers – as they are the ones that pay your bills.

    Regards, and thank you for your comment!


  2. I like your thoughts on Best Practices and Next Practices and that BOTH need to be applied. While I don’t think you should ever stop at best practices, there are situations, such as outsourcing payroll, where there is no need to reinvent the wheel. As far as serving customers, I do feel that Next Practices are necessary as a way to deliver a unique experience.

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