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Best Practices are a Moving Target

by Casmin Wisner on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014.

Science – It’s not Always the Right Answer

At the same time Henry Ford was obsessing over efficiency and instituting his own version of the assembly line, there was a man named Fredrick Taylor who was also obsessed with efficiency in the workplace and put into practice his theory of scientific management. In short, this theory involved managers overseeing that workers did their tasks in the least amount of time possible.

Best Practices

Interestingly enough, after implementing this practice, Taylor discovered that instead of improving the workplace, workers were frustrated and deterred from their work. They loathed being micromanaged and forced to do mindless, redundant work, day in and day out.

While it’s true that for efficiency, this assembly line idea may have been a best practice for Taylor and Ford, it discouraged innovation and product improvement.

What are Best Practices and are They Always Best?

According to Google, best practice is defined as the following:

noun.
commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.

These best practices have most likely spread throughout an industry after success was reached due to a specific method of research and implementation. However, while one method or technique may have shown impressive or superior results in the past, it is also true that what was considered innovative yesterday is not always impressive today.

A “best” practice, in reality, should be evolving by the week, the day, or even the hour.

The Best Way to Kill Innovation

A recent LinkedIn article by Paul Martin boldly states, “In my opinion ‘Best Practice’ kills innovation.” The title alone is brilliant and bluntly honest. He continues in his article to say, “For me the term ‘Best Practice’ conjures up images of a race toward uniform mediocrity, led by those who follow the crowd.”

I would be so bold as to replace the word “race” in the previous quote, with “crawl.” Although these workers are appeasing today’s need for instant gratification in working at top speeds, their minds are crawling. They are far from an engaged frame of mind and instead inhabiting an automatic frame of mind.

How We Encourage this Best Practice Evolution

At Jive we encourage this constantly evolving “best practice” in not only our physical structure, but our work structure. If you take one look at the Jive engineering department you’ll immediately be under the impression that there is no hierarchy. You can decide whether this is because of the lack of organized (or boring) cubicles, or because pair work is encouraged and team leads are chosen project to project. Either way, it results in a constantly evolving product, benefiting the user and the creator alike.

Best Practices 2

Let the real race begin!

Employees should have the opportunity to race towards innovation; to work in sprints, testing quality often and working towards improvement through every stage of their project. Jive believes its employees are self-motivated, intelligent people who should be able to derive creativity and inspiration from their environment and those they work with.

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