The process of measuring best practice involves looking at other companies to uncover basic principles that you can model within your own business.
When GE developed their Best Practice Project, their main ethos revolved around asking the question, “What’s the secret of your success?” The answers they got were surprisingly similar.
Most companies reported that they managed processes, not functions, and concentrated on how teams worked together rather than on the performances of individual departments. GE realised after their research that they had been measuring and managing the wrong things. They had put their emphasis on setting goals and keeping score; instead, they should have been focusing on how things got done rather than on what got done.
Following ‘best practices‘ – co-operative, integrated and comprehensive approaches to continuous improvement – helps you achieve higher standards of performance and keeps you aware of the competitive advantage you can achieve.
Here’s how you can start looking at best practice management:
Develop a shared vision and strategic plan. This gives you a vision of world-class performance and helps everyone in the business see exactly what best practice looks like.
Ensure commitment from top management. This will encourage all team members to put their efforts into the changes and improvements needed to achieve great results.
Create a learning environment. This allows everyone to advance in the skills, knowledge and attitude that is required to achieve best practice.
Create innovative workplace initiatives. Everything you put into place should reflect the company’s commitment to improvement.
Focus on customers. Be responsive to the current and future needs of your clients, because they are the ones who will reap the benefits of any new initiatives you put in place.
Develop closer ties with your suppliers. These companies need to know what you are doing so they can support your change initiatives.
Look at technological, process and product innovation. Look at what market-leaders have done to create higher market share and adopt a similar policy, using the faster, leaner methodology that will help you keep costs and investment down.
Use performance-measurement systems along with benchmarking. Remember that if you try to match a competitor’s performance now, you will take time to catch up, because they set their standards in motion some time ago to be where they are now. See benchmarking as a finger-in-the-air process; identify where you need to be in one, two or three years’ time, then plan for that eventuality.
Network external relationships. By sharing information, accessing new services, developing new products and services, reviewing use of staff skill-sets, minimising costs in entering new markets, etc, you build a firm foundation for creating best practice for your company’s future.
Remember…unless everyone in the business is committed to best practice and understands the meaning of the term to them personally, you run the risk of any changes being seen as just another management fad. You must ensure that you communicate the reasons why you are pursuing this process. That way, you stand a better chance of any new initiatives succeeding.
Originally published: 27 August, 2010
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