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The unfortunate case of best practices

“Best practice” – alongside other popular clichés such as breaking down silos, moving the needle, and my personal “favorite” (not) – low hanging fruit – gets thrown around a lot these days. Love them or hate them, they’re all here to stay – but just what exactly is a best practice?

According to Google, a best practice is “commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.” But in an age of continuous change, competitive advantage is no longer just about what tools and resources are at organization’s disposal – but how they are leveraged, adopted, consolidated, often towards the wider agenda that is digital transformation. All the while, shadow IT continues to plague organizations, and consumption-based IT continues to boom. So, for the modern C-suite on a mission to achieve truly digital transformation, where do you start?

Many start their journey to 42 by research, often arriving at a next step guided by experience, some industry best practices from this expert and that. Perhaps with a side helping of advice from various peers who’ve recently been through similar challenges? For most, the decision is topped with a bit of gut feel.

 

Can we do better?

Take advice as an example. Advice is great.  When asked to be an advisor and to share best practices, most would be pleased to share their two cents – it’s a feel-good factor that somebody values your opinion after all.  But a key component as to how the advice is derived in the first instance, depends very much on what the advisors’ interpretation of the question is. Generally speaking, the more ambiguous the question, the wider a variation there could be in its interpretation.

graph-blog

Take a look at this graphic.  An example of a question in the bottom left corner might be – what foodstuff is best for making toast out of? The answer is probably bread. Simple and specific and you get a concrete answer. However, as we move to the top right things get more ambiguous. In the upper right-hand quadrant, you can imagine a question such as ‘What’s the best way to drive digital transformation?’ Which then leads to what does digital transformation mean to you? And in any case, perhaps the better question is, why are you doing it?

 

Let’s get specific

The point is ambiguous questions lead to vague answers. Advice is great, but it has to be taken with a pinch of salt, because it might not be fit for purpose in helping you reach your end goal. My parents voice echoes, “if your best friend jumped off a cliff, would you follow?” It’s a rhetorical question, and a figure of speech no less, but applying one of the first lessons we learn in life, best practices are a double edge sword indeed. Just because a cloud model works for a tech start up with 20 staff who are all remote, doesn’t mean going full-cloud is also the best way forward for financial institutes with over 20,000 staff spread globally over 150+ sites of various sizes.

Considering the two vastly different starting point (the vague question), driving digital transformation means very different things (the answer, the 42), and if a best-practice is taken off-the-shelf without proper consideration, previously unthought-of issues such as data sovereignty might lead to disastrous results.

The other issue with best practices is that they do not inspire organizations to be innovative; organizations can be left with a dangerous pool of stagnant ideas where the status-quo remains in play, and overall progress is either hindered or halted altogether. But in the age of continuous change, the ‘goal’ is ever shifting, a living, breathing thing with a mind of its own. So, in that case, where does a best practice get you?

 

Thriving in the age of continuous change

In order for modern organizations to thrive, it is therefore critical that a continuous improvement mindset must be embedded. Be that process improvement or business value realization, it is pivotal that all parties involved – employees and business partners alike – share this mentality.

As part of NTT, one of the world’s leading global technology services companies, we believe together we can do great things. With over 17 years of experience in delivering world class communication solutions, we understand smart communication leads to smarter workspace. It isn’t just about joining the dots of your IM, your VoIP, your video conferencing and hardware – unifying your communications so to speak; it’s about enabling effective business communications to deliver positive business outcomes. And in the age of continuous change, the only way to guarantee digital transformation success is to build a bridge between the technological aspects without forgetting that people are at the heart of it; after all, there’s no business communications if there’s no people to communicate with.

 

So if you’re ready to break the silo and grab that digital transformation low hanging fruit, adopt and embed a continuous value realisation mindset so that together, we can do great things.

About the author

As the Head of the EMEA Demand Centre, Janet leads a team of passionate marketing specialists who strive to empower marketers everywhere to make a real impact. With over 10 years of technology & telco experience, Janet is a strong believer of the common sense approach. In her own words, “it’s great to be feature & process obsessed, but the most challenging part that guarantees success is making it easy – easy to use, easy to understand, easy to follow.

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