We all stood in a line behind one child who was the leader. We followed that leader around the room mimicking every action s/he took. When the leader squatted and quacked like a duck, we squatted and quacked like a duck. When the leader skipped forward, we skipped forward.
So many of today’s conference and learning programs are like follow the leader. We secure successful leaders to speak and share their best practices and solutions. Then we race back to our office and immediately copy their ideas.
The Risks Of Follow The Leader’s Best Practices
Successful leaders recognize that best practices are short-lived. The practice reflects an activity that delivers results within the context of the market conditions of that time.
A best practice is a formula with some missing variables. It’s an approximation, an assertion that, in general, works. ~ Author and thought leader Jay Acunzo.
A formula that in general works. Reread that phrase again.
Who works in generalities today? Not your customers, organization or job!
Best practices try to recreate the past. And that’s no way to get ahead in a business says Acunzo.
When you copy someone’s best practice, you are not staying ahead; you are playing a game of catch-up. By the time you implement someone else’s best practice, they are onto the next practice. ~ Stephen M. Shapiro, Best Practices Are Stupid
Regenerative Business author and Babson College’s Executive in Residence Carol Sanford says that her research and studies signal that many so-called best business practices are actually ancient, unverified and even toxic. They are mere marketing hype and spin invented to win business.
Follow The Leader Doesn’t Differentiate
Follow the leader can be risky at best when it comes to solving business challenges, innovation and competing in your market.
In order to attract and retain customers, you need to focus on how you are different from your competitors. Successful programs and conferences are known for the distinct, unique capabilities that enable them to stand out in their marketplace. They pursue differentiated paths, not best practices or copying the competition.
Your differentiating capability must be unique and distinctive, and not based on what others are doing says Shapiro.
Instead of best practices, be a leader and aim for emerging practices that work for your customers.
What Are You Practicing?
Are you following an industry leader’s practices? Are you copying their steps to success? What are you practicing?
“You are always practicing something. The question is: What are you practicing?”
—Martial arts sensei
Are you promoting and practicing standards, average, status-quo sameness, conventional, traditional, legacy, non-conformity, life-long learning, uniqueness, collaboration, co-creation, problem solving, best practices, next practices or something else?
Practices are not only what you do. It’s what you think and believe. Your attitudes and beliefs drive your practices which drive your results says Fierce Leadership author Susan Scott.
Your results are directly linked to your practices and beliefs.
So what do you believe, think and practice in your organization?
What are the costs of copying others instead of creating new paths? When should you use best practices?