Why Following ‘Best Practices’ Hurts Your Business

By Bill Zoelle, Chief Creative Officer

Published: March 9, 2015


For years, businesses and marketing teams have been plagued and often driven by ‘best practices,’ or the idea that an established list of standards will help better ensure success. It seems as though every week, there are a handful of new articles published on the ideal way to just about any business related task that you can think of.

The concept is obviously overused (often for click baiting), but at Envano, we also suggest that ‘best practices’ are overvalued, holding you back rather than propelling you forward as they so often purport.

The Mentality Behind It

Most companies in some way, shape or form follow ‘best practices.’ Often, these are practices that most firms in their line of business have been following for many years, leading people in the industry to assume that it is simply the best way of doing things.

With that, a mentality has emerged – one that suggests in most people’s minds that you can’t move forward until you’ve identified what the best practices in that area are. This mentality tends to paralyze a lot of leaders who consistently find themselves asking ‘well, what’s the best practice?’ or ‘what’s the right way to do it?’ before allowing their team to implement.

Why It’s Hurting Your Business

Contrary to popular belief, this approach – beginning with what others have identified as successful – is hurting the way you do business. Relying on best practices results in a self-fulfilling prophecy for remaining complacent with the status quo, rather than pushing the boundaries to try something different and potentially see better results.

If you’re starting off a brand new project or new venture, ‘collect best practices’ should NEVER be a part of your process, unless it is in something where there is no value in innovation.

You see, if you focus only on identifying and following the best practices, you are never a leader in your industry – because someone has already done things and established a commonplace before you. For any new path, you can’t expect anyone to lie out a yellow brick road, because at that point, you’re already behind.

If you value innovation and you say you want to lead, you have to throw out a lot of these best practices in order to move to the front. This presents a higher risk, but payoff is often exponential.

Determine where you want to be in the market. Do you want to be a leader? Or do you want to be a strong follower that isn’t taking on as much risk? And depending on your choice, follow through.

If you say you want to lead, you have to throw out any notion of ‘best practices’ because it will never apply to the person who is out in the front.

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