Best Practices Are Evil (Friday Quote)

That is perhaps my favorite single quote in all of Humanize. It was a one-sentence paragraph in Chapter 3 (p. 34): “There is just one problem. Best practices are evil.” To be honest, I think most people skip over the page-and-a-half that explains it, because it’s just too hard to believe. They probably write us off as being a bit sensational or exaggerating (from a consultant, blogger, and keynote speaker?! Never!!). But we were dead serious with that claim. Here’s the paragraph that pinpoints the problem (p. 35):

Now, we know what you are thinking. Best practices can’t be all bad. We have all lived through moments where we saw what someone else was doing and used that knowledge to our own advantage, so how can they be evil? True, observing your environment and learning from it is a good thing. But remember that you must always adapt what you observe to fit your own context. In simple systems, this is easy, but the more complex things become, the more work you have to do to adapt the best practices to your context. That is the real problem now. With the speed  of the social media revolution, the context is changing faster than we can adapt our best practices. The harder we try to find answers to our problems by looking backward, the more and more we fall behind. Our love affair with best practices is dragging us down, and we need a new approach. At the center of this new approach is innovation.