Although some of you might envision all kinds of horror images with sweaty and greedy managers, board meetings with grotesk and overly tanned executives. Perhaps you dwell on memories of endless training sessions with the latest and greatest in motivational speaking when you hear the term of Best Practices. In reality a Best Practice is a merely a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. In addition, a “best” practice can be in a state of continuous updating as improvements are discovered.
So qualifying Best Practice as just another buzzword which comes to us from a corporate underworld is selling it a tiny bit short. In fact it Best Practice is an outright management term, but to manage implies to organize, which in most cases when in regard to common social or environmental interest is a very good thing. This is why to Izreal it is seen as a tool to describe the process of developing and following a highly efficient sustainable standardized method of doing things that multiple organizations can use.
As the incorporation of Best Practice aligns with our aim to establish an open source community. An interconnected framework of communities, representatives and stakeholders contributing to the establishment of Best Practice can be of tremendous value in the development of a sustainable society.
One of the key factors in adopting Best Practice as a tool is the effective utilization of available resources and the protection of common interests in general. Incorporation of Best Practice and offering pre-formed ‘templates’ to standardize community valued processes through the establishment of process documentation and the transfer of knowledge means all input related to the fulfillment of a (common) need is considered and distributed equally and as effectively as possible.
Best practices are used to establish and maintain quality as an alternative to legislated standards and can be based on self-assessment or bench marking. Best practice allows for a modular design of in the approach to research and execution in solving common challenges. Sometimes a “best practice” is not applicable or is inappropriate for a particular need. A key strategic talent required when applying Best Practice is the ability to balance the unique qualities of one party with the practices that it has in common with others.
Do’s and Don’ts
It is important to maintain realistic expectations when seeking a “best practice” and to be wary of “internal validity problems.” Such problems include realizing that the research required to identify the absolute ‘best’ practice for any challenge is almost never practically possible. Because a practice seems to be tailored to a specific challenge and is based on solid research does not necessarily mean it will create results.
Observe the Practice
When adapting Best Practices for common use as intended in an open source society/community, it is important to identify the core essence of the practice while allowing flexibility for how it is implemented so it remains sensitive to local conditions. Best Practices are to be adaptable to various conditions, have various operational features, and can employ similar but diverse ways to achieve goals.
Analyze and share Vulnerabilities
In addition to the reasons why a Best Practice might succeed, an analys should describe potential vulnerabilities that could lead a practice to fail. Two types of vulnerabilities are worth particular attention: 1) poor general management capacity, which makes it more difficult to effectively implement the practice, and 2) weaknesses inherent to the practice itself. It is a wise decision to develop safeguards suitable for your implementation in order to minimize the risk of such vulnerabilities.
It will work….
The final step in identifying an appropriate “best practice” for a problem is to ensure that the context from which the practice is derived is comparable to the context in which it will be applied. Risks to implementing the selected “best practice” in the applied context as well as what support structures can be put in place need to be anticipated in order to maximize the likelihood of success.
If utilizing a pilot or demonstration program “best practice” the success of that practice needs to be discounted in order to account for the better than average favorable conditions pilot and demonstration programs usually operate under. These conditions include increased enthusiasm, advantageous political and economic conditions, and less bureaucratic resistance due to the lack of permanency in pilot programs.
Excessive optimism about the expected impact of untested practices is a common critique. But look at it from this perspective, if a current practice is known to be ineffective, implementing a promising alternative after weighing the alternatives may be worth taking a chance. It could even be the outcome is beneficial to yourself and your community.