Better Practice Framework for Continuous Improvement

Companies often tout “Best Practice” as a final destination. In reality, it should be a starting point to build a new, better practice.

Best practice in many organisations is seen as a destination. Companies make considerable investments in understanding and adopting “best practice”, often from same or related industries. However, best practice implies a final plateau – a level of performance that is considered sufficient. In reality, what businesses should strive to do is continually improve – finding a better practice beyond the plateau of best.

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KEY POINTS

  • Best practice is a starting point
  • Better practice is about continuous improvement
  • Utilise external knowledge sources and better practice frameworks
  • Better practice is applicable to any knowledge domain

Better Practice, Not Best Practice

When you hear the term “best practice,” it may not surprise you to learn that the term is relative. Best for what? Best for whom? Best in which situation? What works best at one company or organization may not be a good fit for another.

Best practice is a starting point, but it’s far from the destination. You shouldn’t view best practices as an end goal—they’re just where you begin. Better practices are how you reach your goals, whether those be increasing customer satisfaction or reducing employee turnover rate by five percent in six months.

If someone suggests that a best practice is the only way to do something and there’s no room for improvement, they may be misleading you—or worse, they don’t know any better themselves! It’s important to understand that while some practices are generally considered best because they have worked well in many circumstances and across many organizations, that doesn’t mean they can’t be improved upon. In fact, there might even be a better alternative out there that hasn’t been considered yet!

That said, it’s good to keep this perspective in mind when working through projects: what we do today can always be improved tomorrow—that’s why it’s called continuous improvement instead of instant perfection.

Understand Your Knowledge Domain

To understand the knowledge domain that you are working in, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your level of knowledge? You should begin by assessing how much or how little you know about your domain. (For example, an experienced teacher will have a different level of knowledge than an aspiring teacher.)
  • What is the future direction of the domain? It’s important to be aware of where your field is headed and what trends are shaping it so that you don’t get left behind. (For example, a technological innovation may change how teachers deliver lessons.)
  • What other domains interact with your own? Whether you’re a teacher or a tech developer, most jobs require collaboration and overlap between fields. (For example, Teachers often work closely with librarians to develop lesson plans.)
  • Are there any constraints placed on your domain? This question doesn’t have much relevance for most people, but for some industries it helps to consider regulatory guidelines or budget limitations.

Better Practice Ensures Continuous Improvement

The expertise and skills of external consultants, as well as internal staff with specialist skills, are excellent resources to support continuous improvement initiatives. You may also wish to engage with the members of your supply chain, outside partner organisations and other peer organisations who have or are deploying similar improvements. This is particularly important where you have been granted a grant or concession by government.

Consider accessing external knowledge sources such as industry research and conferences. If appropriate, you may also like to consider using existing best practice frameworks for guidance on future improvements.

Utilise Outside Assistance

A Better Practice Framework makes good practice easy to understand, and helps you apply the right activities to particular problems.

It’s a continuous improvement process that can be applied to any knowledge domain or problem context.

By providing a structured approach for organisational leaders, it ensures that all staff members understand their role in achieving desired outcomes.

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CONSULTING INTERVENTIONS

Merillot provides a range of consulting interventions that can assist companies through better practice, best practice and continuous improvement, in addition to broader operational management concepts:

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