Friday, 5 February 2016

Why I hate 'Best Practice'

I hear the words 'best practice' almost every day. My eyes roll over and I look vexed. I don't mean to, I just hate this phrase.

I live in a world where we make things transparent so we can inspect and adapt.

How does this work with 'best practice'?

By adopting 'best practice' we are making the assumption that this is the ideal, that there is nothing left to learn.

We might also put this all in a locked box so we can't change it. It is 'best practice' after all - you will probably mess it up if you play with it.

So when one of my team recently said he could not change the QA 'best practice', I suggested that we absolutely needed to try.

Together we proposed we do something different - based on observation and experience - that might make the process better. We decided to run an experiment to test our own theory that the 'best practice' was flawed and can be improved.

We proposed how we could evolve the process and measure it's impact so we can decide whether we should keep the change.

So what is 'best practice' in a process that designed to evolve?

To me, it is the last thing that worked.

This might not be the last thing you tried since you always have scope for experimentation and learning.

In my world, nothing can be 'best practice' since we can always improve it.


CaptnDan said...

An excellent observation! It would be interesting to see the reactions if people started substituting the phrase "best practice" for "last thing that worked". If a different approach is provably better (by whatever you're measuring against) it shouldn't be just be disregarded because it's not "best practice". A phrase we similar connotations that I think comes under scrutiny more readily is "the way we've always done it"...

RichardArpino said...

Yeah, I have similar feelings for "the way we've always done it" too! Thanks for the feedback :)

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