I recently read a short piece that questioned the concept of Best Practices. This really resonates with me.
Often I am persuaded to write best practices as summaries to my work, for example in case studies. However I tend to agree with David Gurteen, author of the ‘Knowledge Letter’: “Instead of looking at best practice, focus your attention on the particularities of your situation, trying to understand all the factors at work, not just those prescribed in your model or best practice. Reflect on how your own participation is affecting, and is affected by, the way these factors are playing out in your organisation. That way you can help to make sure your attention is on what really matters so much more than a best practice or model. Ask how you or others are interacting with each other and influencing each other in the process of getting the work done.” In other words “think for yourself!”
This philosophy is important for my work. Rather than directing the communities I am working with to follow the best practices of those before them, I am trying to encourage them to use the lessons as a guide but decide their own activities and future. Innovation means tweaking the norm and taking risks. As David Gurteen says, it means thinking for yourself. I can support that.