Why best-practices are the best practice

By Steve Weissman posted 04-17-2013 11:49


There is a tendency in the darker corners of many organizations for people to want to go their own way when it comes to managing processes and information. This doesn't have to be a bad thing since there usually are numerous routes available to success. But it often turns out badly because mistakes can be made, and opportunities can be missed, that could have been readily avoided if only industry best practices would have been followed.

My clients and my students well know that I am a big fan of leveraging knowledge gained at somebody else's expense, which really is what best practices are. Why invent the wheel if someone has already figured out that a round shape is best for locomotion? Everybody knows you wouldn’t, which is why that particular example has become the cliché. But executives and managers still too often insist upon forging their own path to process and information efficiency and effectiveness, even though the world is full of resources that can show them the way. (Perhaps the richest of these is right here at aiim.org.)

Some take the independent approach to demonstrate (usually fruitlessly) just how important they are to the inner workings of the business. Others go solo because they don’t get enough internal support and have no other way to get anything done. And still others either simply lack enough experience to know better or are just plain unwilling to do the research necessary to find the path of lesser resistance.

My advice here is “don't let this happen to you!” There is an awful lot of collective wisdom that exists beyond your organization’s boundaries, and you can make your life a lot easier by tapping into it rather than figuring it all out on your own. These best practices are what underlie AIIM’s various certificate programs and its CIP professional designation, my prep classes and consulting engagements, and a raft of other fonts of knowledge that just beg for your attention. So your best practice is certainly to avail yourself of these best practices. If you don't, your little corner just may become all that much darker.

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