Section I Description of The Best-Tool



Sharing Best Practices across industries and functions is an accepted approach to continuous improvement. The Benchmarking trend of the 1990s has evolved with the help of competitive analysis, performance excellence awards, and other corporate recognition programs into an ongoing documentation of what works. Bob Camp introduced benchmarking against a Best Practice based on his work at Xerox in the 1980s. Case studies abound documenting Best Practice functions and processes. Some case studies use the words “Best Practice” without evidence that the process, results, or methods are, indeed, superior. What is missing is a comprehensive model for assessing and writing a Best Practice that provides sufficient information to use as an effective benchmark. This book provides that comprehensive model.

Not every process performs as well as desired. Perhaps the process is not designed or measured properly. Perhaps the process is not documented in a way that ensures consistency of results. Having a good example can be a source of inspiration. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if someone else has already identified potential improvements. The challenge is to find a Best Practice that provides enough material to conduct a useful gap analysis for subsequent improvement.

Best Practices are tools for designing processes more effectively. They guide us to better and even excellent results. There is a pitfall, however: you must learn from the Best-in-Class, not from the average. Implementing Best Practices minimizes mistakes while often achieving remarkable improvements. Developing a Best Practice within your own organization is one step on the journey toward excellence.

Today’s consumers expect products and services to be of high quality, reliable, and user-friendly. This is the result of years of continuous improvement and innovation by producers. Although many organizations strive for excellent results, there is still room for improvement. Unfortunately, leaders don’t always have methods and tools to measure or assess that degree of excellence. If a leader could use a tool to discover how good his approaches and methods are, and how excellent his achieved results are, he could plan further improvements. The goal is to achieve excellent results. The tool described in this book guides leaders to achieve that excellence.

No one is born knowing the best method to achieve great results. Outstanding achievements are the result of a long learning process, great perseverance, hard work, and inspiration. Each of us has learned much in our lives and will still learn more. But it is an illusion to think we can know everything that is already known, much less individually know all that is yet to be discovered. Working together in highly motivated teams increases our capacity for knowledge, but even this option has its limits.

To speed up the process, we can also learn from others, namely those who have already achieved significant progress. Learning from Best Practices (also known as Best-in-Class, excellent methods, and excellent results) allows us to shorten the learning cycle drastically to achieve excellent results.

In reality, the better these Best Practice approaches are structured and documented, the more robust and reproducible the methods, and the better the outcomes achieved. Well organized and documented Best Practice examples can be a true source of inspiration for others wishing to improve their operations.

Why a Book on the Subject of “Best Practice”?

■ The BEST-tool is a new and unknown approach. It is not a software solution, although it employs Microsoft Excel. We offer our readers, managers, and anyone who wants to realize systematic progress in their key functional processes, a tool that allows them to plan improvement actions. Using the BEST-tool in the short term achieves breakthrough improvements. Consistent use of the BEST-tool achieves excellent results.

■ Quantifiable data: the user of the BEST-tool receives a Likert-scale quantification of how close his process is to a Best Practice or World Class performance.

■ Proof of need: when you search for “Example Best Practice” in Google, you get more than 2.7 billion hits. If you analyze a small number (100), you’ll discover that only a very few are really Best Practices. Why is this so? No writer of a Best Practice had a tool until now to assess whether their Best Practice really is one. With the BEST-tool they can make an accurate assessment for the first time.

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