The case for “better practices”

Ah, best practices – the North Star for many a change management or growth plan. For digital strategy, best practices become manuals to help companies engage consumers, compete intelligently and stay relevant.

As much as best practices are touted, how often are they implemented? Adopting best practices is often a herculean task because at their core, best practices are ideals – which are notoriously hard to achieve. It also requires full compliance from your team, top down involvement, and 100% adherence to the approach.

Sounds perfectly simple to implement, right?

If you’re like me, you’re recovering now from a good belly laugh. The question, however, remains – how do you implement change in the face of lofty best practices and risk-sensitive leaders?

The answer is “better” practices. Here are four advantages of adopting better practices.

1. You set the outcome.

  • By definition, best practices assume a one size fits all approach. This disregards the realities you face and is inflexible to the challenges and advantages at play. Better practices give you that flexibility. It allows you to take the first few steps, pause, assess, pivot, and move forward based on the context of the situation.

2. You set and manage the risk.

  • “New knowledge is always advancing our understanding of what constitutes ‘best,’” making best practices moving targets.1 How can you protect against adverse side effects and risks if your target keeps shifting? You can’t, and that sets you up for failure. Better practices allow you to set the rules of the game. Incorporating the realities of your business, the personalities in the room, and the challenges ahead of you, better practices empower you to set the goal, manage the risk, and better manage expectations.

3. You gain short-term wins, boosted morale, and great ideas.

  • Best practices often require significant change, which realistically takes time to transition and ultimately achieve. That delay creates discouragement and robs you of the momentum that motivated everyone in the first place. Better practices incorporate shorter life cycles so your team can fail fast, learn more and re-engage quickly. It also allows for creative ideas and safer risk taking, since failing and learning becomes a part of the growth process. This, in turn, creates engaged team members, breakthrough ideas and greater team satisfaction.

4. You control the case for more investment.

  • Best practices take time to implement and prove out. Better practices create micro-cases that can snowball into major changes. They prove you’re making progress, which can help win the case for further time and investment.


Best practices provide tremendous value and are necessary parts making change a reality. To help you get there, pair them with better practices. Better practices will provide the momentum you need and drive project success, team engagement and company value.

Now it’s your turn – which works better in your experience, best or better practices? What are some examples of when you’ve seen it work or fail? Please share your thoughts with our community.


1Source: Ministry of Health. A Framework for Core Functions in Public Health, March 2005.