March 21

Why Best Practices are the Enemy of Innovation

minute reAD

Every organization follows a series of best practices.

Best practices come in all shapes and sizes. Some are company-wide and highly formalized like ISO9000 or Six Sigma. Others may be department-level standard operating procedures.

In some cases these best practices live up to their name and serve to make the company faster and more competitive.

But in many more cases they only serve to make our blood boil with their bureaucracy and inefficiencies.

You don’t need me to give you examples. I’m sure you can think of plenty.

And yet so often we continue to ‘just follow the process’.

Why? Because it’s too hard and painful to get things to change. It’s “not our job”. And besides there’s no reward or recognition for doing it.

But if you’re a manager or leader trying to grow your business, there’s a BIG problem lurking here…

Great ideas come from spotting the problems people have with existing solutions, then proposing creative new alternatives.

If you want to encourage bigger, bolder ideas then the change must start from within.

When we empower staff to challenge and improve processes they get to practice their innovation skills in a low-risk, safe environment.

So flip things around a bit. Position best practices as something to be challenged and incrementally improved, rather than slavishly followed.

Make it easy and rewarding for people to do that.

And those employees that step up and push for change… they are your future innovators… the intrapreneurs in the making.

Cherish them and help them develop their skills.

They will be the ones to drive the commercial innovation you desire.

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