How To Use Best Practices To Spur Innovation Forward8 August, 2014 / Articles
INNOVATION. Applying state-of-the-art tools and processes is widely seen as a mark of excellence. So, perhaps not surprisingly, “best practice” is one of those terms that you constantly hear in corporate circles. Managers often see implementing them as key to their performance.
Yet many experts point out that adopting so-called best practices can stifle your ability to innovate. After all, once you designate a particular way of doing things as “best,” who is going to question it? And if nobody questions it, it won’t be improved.
Still, even keeping those objections in mind, best practices can be immensely valuable, if approached sensibly. The truth is that much like any business process, best practices are only as good as the managers who implement them. While many do use best practices as a crutch, they can also be used as a platform from which to innovate.
INNOVATION & BENCHMARKING
As a report by Accenture points out, benchmarking is an important element of any operational process. Knowing where you stand in terms of costs and value creation is essential to evaluate where you stand competitively. Without a robust benchmarking effort, you are simply flying blind, especially with regard to best practices.
But quantitative benchmarking is not enough. Simply crunching numbers gives you little insight into context and, while it can identify problems, it doesn’t lead you to any viable solutions. So qualitative benchmarking—taking into account context and constraints—is fundamental to keeping operations moving forward.
And benchmarking can help you innovate as well. In every industry, you have some areas of high variance and other areas where both performance and practices have become fairly standard. This often signals an opportunity for disruptive innovation, as Walmart and Dell showed with logistics and Southwest Airlines demonstrated with turnaround times.