No such thing as best practices

best practices

I enjoy a nicely grilled steak.  There’s something about a well-seasoned, juicy, char-marked piece of meat that activates all five senses (sorry vegetarians, although I also like grilled veggies).

There are some basic rules about grilling meat.  It should be a certain temperature to ensure safety, but after that, it’s personal taste.  I’m good with a medium-rare to medium steak. Someone else prefers it rare, and another prefers medium-well. Well done?  Why are you eating steak? Chew on your shoe.

But that’s the point.

What’s best for me will not be best for you.

It’s the same for companies.

I attended a conference about a month or so ago, and a speaker said:

“There are no such things as best practices. There are only good practices for your company”.

I’m not sure I agree 100%, but I understand her point. Even the greatest practice has to be customized or has to fit for your specific company. Just because one company has a tremendous “best practice” that you want to copy or adopt doesn’t mean that it will work exactly the same way for your company. You have to decide:

  1. Does this best practice meet our requirements?
  2. Will it achieve our goals? Only you will know based upon how your processes work.
  3. How shall we measure this process?

Most importantly, you recognize that something needs to improve.

Striving towards a benchmark is not necessarily bad or good. I like to think about benchmarks, frameworks, and best practices in terms of guardrails.  First, you build the road, and then you install the guardrails to keep you in between the lines.

If getting closer to a benchmark helps you achieve your goals, then consider implementing that measure.  As you learn and improve through metrics, use the guardrails to help you determine any changes or swerves you need to make.

So whether you use a gas grill, a charcoal grill, your broiler, or a frying pan, your steak will be how you like it, based on your own requirements and best practice. I ask only one thing – please no ketchup.

Photo courtesy of Michael Cote under Creative Commons licensing.

Discussion (comment below):

  1. Gas or charcoal?
  2. Steak sauce?
  3. Do you have a best practice you use in your company that you can share?
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