2019/08/08 The problem with best practices

Everyone wants best practices in what they do. Whether it is testing, development, or even things outside of IT like construction. We want a set of standards that show the best way to do something, right?


The problem with best practices is it puts them on a pedestal that can’t be challenged. This is the best way to do something, it can’t be improved, so don’t bother offering suggestions.

Who decided it is the best practice however? Was it a single person or a group? Do any of the people involved still work in that area, or even company?

Instead of best practices, what everyone should be doing is working with better practices.

Better practices aren’t on a pedestal, acting as if they are carved in stone that must be followed for all time. They are trying to make the way we work better, but better can always be made better. What was the better practice six months ago might not be the ideal way of doing it, but we can look at replacing it with a new better practice.

Do you work with best practices? How often do they change? How easy is it to change them?

What if they were better practices instead?

Better > Best

2 thoughts on “2019/08/08 The problem with best practices

  1. It’s like evolution, or any other scientific theory: these things are only good as long as the evidence continues to support the theory. When better evidence comes along that tests the theory to destruction, then a different, better theory takes its place. So “best practice” is only best until, as you say, a better “best practice” comes along and can be shown to give benefits. A “best practice” that is never challenged or replaced by something better is a dead end.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To me best practices come from what we learn in our professional certifications, have been around for years, are well known in the industry and are tried and tested methods . However , something as dynamic as agile has no set way of approaching things as no two businesses are the same. I always reccomend to my clients that they start with the ‘best practices’ and watch the best practices evolve into better practices (I like this term ). Due to the nature of agile, you will always find your processes and approaches change, hopefully for the better , but you have to have a starting point so it would be silly to disregard best practices because you have to appreciate that they exist for a reason, not necessarily the reason that most people think- which is that they are to be set in stone and followed to the letter. Perhaps that’s how they were intended to be used all those years ago when they were created and dot matrix printers were a thing, but what we know in 2019 is that technology is rapidly becoming more advanced and competitive and so our best practices need to be adjusted to keep up otherwise you might find you have a great product but it is taking too long to deliver. . Got a crazy idea that just might work ? Discuss it with your team and run a trial sprint to see if it works . No good? then go back to your original way of thinking. Congratulate yourself for taking the initiative though, now you are thinking about it and that will surely lead to some great and successful ideas for improvement. I like best practices but I like better practices more and I dont think you can have one without the other .

    Liked by 2 people

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