What Are the Advantages of the Application of the BEST-Method and BEST-Tool for the Reader?

■ You have a handy tool to assess your Good Practice and your Best Practice.

■ You’ll know when you have reached the level of Best Practice and how others can study your process as a real Benchmark.

■ Applying the BEST-tool contributes a further step in your journey to excellence.

■ You get confirmation that you have indeed reached the highest possible degree of maturity for your Best Practice.

■ You’ll discover opportunities for improvement in your approach (enabler).

■ The application of the BEST-tool reveals how your process results could be improved.

■ You gain a higher level of collaborator involvement by discussing the description and assessment of your Best Practice.

■ You give the collaborators a reason to be proud of what they have achieved.

■ When you compare your own Best Practice with that of another organization, you’ll receive confirmation of the strengths already inherent in your own process. You will also see the differences and what you can learn from them.

■ You’ll verify how well process approaches and results are deployed throughout the organization.

■ You’ll better understand the segmentation of process results.

■ You’ll discover the involvement and commitment of the other organization’s leaders in the Best Practice you are benchmarking.

■ The Best Practice can be used as training material within your organization.

■ Actively use the Best Practice as a way of introducing a new collaborator within the organization.

■ Use the Best Practice and BEST-tool in your own organization as a way to make improvements in other departments and services.

■ In a multinational company, the Best Practice can be used as an internal benchmark. It allows colleagues from other plants and divisions to learn from each other.

■ The BEST-tool provides a data-based platform from which you can set ambitious improvement goals.

■ The BEST-method allows you to check the effectiveness and efficiency of your key process.

■ The BEST-tool supports the establishment of ambitious goals by providing an innovative vision of the future.

But There Is More …

■ As far as we know, there is no other book specifically addressing the assessment of a Best Practices.

■ There has not in the past been a method or a tool to assess a Best Practice.

Additional Applications of the BEST-Tool

In many companies and organizations, managers want to know and measure how good their enablers, results, and processes are, without doing lengthy and difficult research for a good benchmarking company or organization. By applying the BEST-tools, they not only know whether they have a Best Practice, but will discover to what extent it is a Best Practice and where they need to make action plans for improvement.

Are you not yet convinced? The authors asked a PhD candidate in research science to interrogate the Internet for examples of Best Practice methods. Her search was extensive, although the results were dismal. There were a lot of hits for Best Practice, but very few survived scrutiny.

The Book Focuses on Two Potential Audiences for Three Major Purposes

■ Members of the management team who could conduct an assessment of a Best Practice within the organization (this is the first and most important objective of the book). This approach allows management to measure and assess the degree of excellence of a so-called Best Practice, either in the reader’s organization or when searching for an external benchmarking example.

■ The Quality department or Organizational Development department who can use the BEST-tool and methodology to discover the gaps for their Best Practice. This leads the user to opportunities for additional improvement.

■ The Quality department or Organizational Development department who can use the BEST-method as a guideline for writing the description of a Best Practice.

Benchmarking, Best Practices, and Excellent Results

It is not necessary to look at an identical operating environment and/or the same products and services. Much can be learned through examples from completely different sectors. Functional benchmarking is a very effective technique. Functional benchmarking compares processes to other organizations with similar processes in the same function, but outside the industry. For example, a process for responding to customer complaints is found in almost every organization; so, choose an organization that has an excellent process for complaint handling and learn from it.

Make no mistake: benchmarking Best Practices is not about industrial espionage, but to examine the methods and results of others that allow businesses to make similar and rapid progress. These others can include departments or entities (plants, sites, service centers, entrepreneurships, etc.) within larger organizations, or companies and organizations that are known for one or more Best Practice characteristics.

Granted, there are limits to the amount of information one company is willing to share with another. Confidentiality and competitive advantage must be respected. That is the boundary of industrial espionage. Most US performance excellence programs at the state level encourage companies to share Best Practices as part of the learning and improvement journey for all participants. These state-level awards feed into the US Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Awards process. One of the authors is past President and CEO of a Community of Excellence that brought senior executives around Charleston, South Carolina, together once a month to share business and process improvement techniques. The use of such networks of executives and board members allows a whole community or industry to gain access to valuable Best Practices.

The quality specialists in the Community of Excellence delighted in sharing general process flows for administrative functions. The team was bogged down when it got to documenting measurements and results. There was no consistent format to gather and report data. Executives became concerned that competitive data might be shared while attempting to provide enough information for the benchmarking activity. Had the BEST-tool been available at the time, the criteria within the tool would have assured senior management that consistent boundaries would keep sensitive data out of the reports.

Best Practices are tools for designing processes more effectively. They guide us to achieve better, hopefully even excellent results. However, there is a pitfall; you must learn from the Best-in-Class, not from the average. There can be multiple Best Practices for performing a process. The better these Best Practice approaches are structured and described, the more robust and reproducible the methods, which achieve better outcomes. It is incumbent upon the organization to adjust a Best Practice to its culture and management style. The BEST-tool guides this customization through a series of criteria to help design the right fit for the organization and its culture.

There are three important aspects of achieving excellent results:

  • 1) We need to apply excellent approaches (enablers),
  • 2) We want to achieve excellent results, and
  • 3) We assure ourselves of a well-managed process.

The BEST-tool described in this book assesses these aspects. The tool applies to a process in every type of organization: private or public, large or small, service or manufacturing. The BEST-method is a universal approach to identifying the characteristics of a process that delivers excellent and sustainable results.

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