Michael W. McLaughlin of Deloitte Consulting has published an excellent article called "The Worst About Best Practices." Like me, Mike is frustrated by the prevalence of best practices and the thinking they promote. As he writes:
The problem with best practices is this: That approach lulls people into thinking that a best practice really exists that can be successfully transplanted.
I agree. TAIB readers will recall that I selected "the impending death of best practices" as one of the Top 5 issues facing associations in 2005. Great organizations do not create value for members, customers and stakeholders by copying the work of others. They understand that in today's marketplace, creativity and originality are the primary drivers of value. When association leaders try to replicate the experience of others because it seems expedient or efficient to do so, they surrender the opportunity to dazzle their members and give ground to for-profit and non-profit enterprises willing to embrace the challenge of innovation. In this sense, then, whether and how our organizations use "best practices" is truly a question of leadership judgment, and one that association executives and volunteers cannot afford to get wrong. To them, I offer the following advice: let's dump best practices and focus on building better practice in our organizations.
UPDATE: I have added a new poll on best practices. Please cast your vote.