In the Information Age, people’s minds need to be challenged. “Best Practices” can often run counter to that.

By Matt Classen

Matt Classen, Founder/CEO of Arrow Northwest, Brand Identity Consultant

Very few businesses are adventurous enough today to step outside of “best practices” and explore innovation. Very few businesses are bold enough to feed their curiosity and see how things can be done in a new way outside convention and status quo. Everyone prefers to stay inside the safety of best practices than risk the uncertainty of thinking outside the box. Best practices are addictively adhered to, not necessarily because they guarantee the best of results, but because they, at the very least, will bring some results – however meager.

best practices

Barry Dahl shared on Flickr

The sense of courteousness to stay within the rules soon deteriorates into conservatism, where people are afraid to try something new. Everybody is keeping to the book, traditions are rigidly sustained, ignorantly, and soon the mind gets intellectually damp because of the monotony of best practices. The same routine, the same way every time. People get reluctant to ventilate organizations by letting a fresh breeze of ideas come in. At the end of the day, best practices become dungeons where businesses are imprisoned from progressing unrestrained – with change. This way workers become human robots, mechanically following a set of programs and codes of which they have no idea existed in the first place. So docile is their discipleship, all they do is follow the rules, and never hike outside the confines of the constitution.

However, it is not every time that you should cling that best practice textbook to the chest and obediently follow rules rules rules. Sometimes people need to be bold enough to ask “why these best practices?”  You need to be impolite to challenge the routine and ask why you do what you do. While it is cool to always drink back your ideas and allow common practice to prevail, once in a while you need to adventurously flay the rules and try out a curious new method. Innovation and failure are close siblings, so don’t be scared if you don’t get it right by trying out a new way. At least you tried and at least you have learned.

Be bold to stand out and ask why

It helps to trace the ancestry of such best practices. In some cases, we find out that a number of these are obsolete as the necessitating conditions that birthed them no longer exist, hence the need for some practices to be disposed of. Some of these best practices have been evicted from time and fashion and they can no longer guarantee results in a fast-paced modern world like ours.

best practices
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Apryl Hall

We have to understand, too, that best practices are “mortal”. They die too. Best practices depend on context, and if the conditions that formed the creation of those practices are gone, then those practices are as well dead. Applying them religiously in modern situations thus equals taking a bow and arrow to World War 3: extravagantly outdated! So we see the transience of best practices. The normal way to do something can never be the best way forever.

So go on. Take the time to evaluate de facto positions, working methods or life habits. Some work well, others, as you know, may not. The trick is to be brave, be resolute, and go for something else every now and again just to keep life interesting. It may not work out the way you had hoped, but at least you tried, learned and are ready to make another go!