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Best Practices

The term ‘best practice’ is commonly used to describe a standout process that is the best known way to do something. ‘Best practice’ is really a misnomer. There is no such thing as a ‘best’ practice—only a ‘best known practice’.

The term itself goes contrary to the whole premise of continuous improvement—that things can always be made better. Don’t let yourself get complacent because you come up with a ‘best practice’.

At one point, the best practices of milking a cow involved a stool and a bucket. I recently saw a TV show that showed cows going into automated, self-sterilizing milking booths (on their own!) when they were ready to be milked. Processes will always get better.

Despite the fundamental problem with the term, it is in common use. I encourage you, however, to mentally add the word ‘known’ whenever you hear it.

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When people speak of best practices, they are really talking about benchmarking and avoiding the reinvention of the wheel. It is generally easier to find an existing outstanding process than it is to figure out how to do things from scratch.

Just one word of warning. Don’t blindly copy a ‘best practice’. Always shoot to build on it and make a better practice. 

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