I remember being told as a child that swimming immediately after I eat would cause stomach cramps. I believe that it was a stated rule that 1 hour after you eat, you could safely return to the water without fear of cramps (regardless of how much you ate, it was always 1 hour). As a 6 year old, I don’t think I had any idea what a cramp was, but I was sure that I didn’t want one. I think it was a visual in my mind that I would end up in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of me and that I would be lying there looking deep into my mom’s eyes wondering why I had lived life to the ragged edge by swimming shortly after eating and not allowing for the proper digestive magic to take place. So I have taken from this that it is a “best practice” to relax and let your food digest prior to doing a cannon ball off of the diving board. Is that a good definition of a “best practice”?
According to Wikipedia – A Best practice is the belief that there is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. The idea is that with proper processes, checks, and testing, a desired outcome can be delivered with fewer problems and unforeseen complications. Best practices can also be defined as the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people.
So how do you know that what you are looking at is really considered to be a "best practice"? Because someone on a blog said so? Because of the marketing scripts that encompass the idea? Because you read it about in a magazine which automatically makes it valid? Because your buddy is doing it at his company and told you it was a "best practice"?
I bring this up because of a recent conversation I was having with a colleague, he said that he was working with a client that stated they ran their organization based off of based practices and they had been burned on more than one occasion by adopting certain “best practices” when in actuality they had adopted unproven methods that were presented to them as “best practices”. This is what happens when you act on something that is packaged as a “best practice” but when you peel back the layers, you find that its validity is in question.
With the speed at which information is circulated and the impact of online social media creating discussions around “best practices”, you tend to hear everyone’s opinion of how they are doing something as being communicated as a “best practice”. I caution you to tread lightly here. Some so-called “best practices” would be better packaged as “this is what we are doing at this moment, and we are having a little bit of luck with it.”
Are you challenging your organization in their ability to implement validated and verified “best practices”? I’m not talking about the latest and greatest buzz, but proven methods that align with the strategic direction of our organization. In the context of your customers, are you utilizing proven methods of engagement to understand the experience that they are having with you? Are you able to accurately diagnose where the value lies in this wealth of information? Are you taking proven action steps? Are you aligning your “best practices” with your overall business objectives?
I challenge you to analyze your customer experience program and really understand the areas that are working and the areas that need work. Then look into validated, proven methods that can address those issues. You are now free to get back in the pool.