Be Wary of Best Practices

Greetings Leaders!

I was teaching a project management class last night and the topic of “Best Practices” came up. Some of the students wanted to know if I could use some of these during class. They were surprised when I told them no. I don’t believe in Best Practices.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in good practices and think we can all benefit from each others experiences. However, best practices are somewhat of an illusion. Best practices are developed based on a specific set of circumstances. The “best” practice worked in a certain place at a certain time. It involved a specific organization with specific clients or customers in a specific situation. The best practice developed around a certain organizational culture based upon a certain management team. It also included specific leaders and team members. I think you get the idea. What constituted a “best” practice was very dependent upon a ton of variables.

My advice to you as a leader is to create your own “best practice” by looking at what others did. However, don’t try to implement a best practice in its entirety based on the experiences of someone else. Odds are you won’t get the same results. In fact, you could get disastrous results if your organization or situation is dramatically different from where the best practice was developed.

Also… be wary of consultants who sell you on the notion that they can implement a best practice at your organization, without doing an comprehensive analysis first. You more than likely won’t get the results you were expecting.

What are your experiences with best practices?

All the best!
All the time!

A good article on Best Practices from Paul Duignan, PhD.

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2 thoughts on “Be Wary of Best Practices”

  1. I like your comments regarding the Best Practices concept. From my perspective, everything that is done in project management has to be fit to the environment. Organizational practices, time based circumstances, particulars of the implementatin and the various agendas of the stakeholders. As my wise Dad told me, “Kathy, just remember that everything in life is about tuff and terrain.” He was a retired Air Force Col. and World War II hero. Thanks for the article.

    1. Hi Kathy!

      It’s good to reconnect after a few years. Glen told me you called the other day. Project is just about done. The last thing is to get that bill over to CUBS. Thanks for taking time to stop by and sharing. You’re lucky to have a dad who shared his wisdom with you.

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