Facts and Figures
When a Best Practice starts with the detailed description of the objectives and then the results, the reader becomes curious about how these results were achieved. None of the case studies (see Chapter 6, Quick Scan) discussed in this text use this sequenced approach. Consequently, the reader either assumes what the results were or becomes distracted by task-level activities that may not have had any influence on process results. This is the antithesis of one of the requirements of a Best Practice: to be factual and evidence based.
It is strange that nearly all the Best Practices we have seen lack corresponding results. We can only say that the described methods (enablers) are effective and lead to excellent results when the results are also documented. Otherwise we are only dealing with intentions. The lesson learned here is that when you look for a Best Practice, ask first about the objectives of the Best Practice and the results achieved. If these two subjects are weak, you can stop looking at that specific Best Practice (outside your organization) or plan corrective actions (if you are analyzing a Best Practice inside your own organization).
We cannot stress enough that definitions of words and concepts (see Chapter 1) are important in order to avoid misunderstandings. When you
Lyke-Ho-Gland, Holly and Morgan, Lochlyn, Putting Process Frameworks into Action, APQC Survey Summary Report Announcement materials. May 2019, APQC, slide 36.
look at management literature and mainly the marketing texts, you see that the words Best Practices, Best-in-Class, and World-Class practices are used too loosely. Now that you have the BEST-tool, you know better.
Is This Approach Bureaucracy?
It is not possible to describe a full Best Practice in two pages. There are too many criteria and characteristics that must be clarified. For the skeptical reader among us, this is not a bureaucratic system. Every organization or company has only a few Best Practices. Obviously, you must choose carefully those Best Practices you want to develop. After all the Best Practice contributes in a positive and significant way to the achievement of the company’s strategy.
Don’t think that a Best Practice text is a lengthy, detailed, and complex text. No, it must be concise and yet detailed. The more it corresponds to the criteria and characteristics of the BEST-tool, the better. You only need to give evidence on how the criteria and characteristics are put into practice. The best way to start is with a clear and detailed description of what you want to achieve with that Best Practice process.
“Poor” Best Practices
The reader might think the requirements of the BEST-tool are not realistic. The objective is not to find weaknesses nor to make judgments in the style of “this is a poor Best Practice.” The real objective of this book is to discover where improvements are feasible (compared with the ideal situation) and how to document a Best Practice.
An unexpected advantage of the BEST-tool is to validate that the management world needs a professional tool to measure the degree of excellence of a Best Practice. Most of the so-called Best Practices have not yet achieved that degree of excellence. Most need significant improvement.
Journey toward Excellence
The authors are not implying that once a Best Practice is achieved the company or organization has reached its final goal, i.e. a state of excellence.
Even winners of the MBA and EFQM Awards must continue their journey toward excellence. If these organizations stop developing their business and making improvements, they can end up in situations like Kodak, Nokia, Fokker, and others who no longer are recognized industry leaders or have even disappeared.
Here are some quick Don’ts and Dos in the use of Best Practice:
■ Pretend that you have a Best Practice without evidence of the four building blocks of a Best Practice.
■ Create a lengthy document lacking precision and using only slogan language.
■ Consider as a Best Practice a process that has no alignment with the strategy and business plan of the organization.
■ Verify that the Best Practice supports the realization of the strategy and the achievement of business results.
■ Require that process improvement is led by the owner of the process and with the active involvement of all people concerned.
■ Start with an inventory of the expectations and needs of all process stakeholders.