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Universal Best Practices

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It’s funny to me that these are even called best practices.  First of all, there really are no “best practices”.  Perhaps these should be called “leading practices” or even “common practices”, but something that does not state that this is the way to go all the time.  It is simply not true that we have practices that are applicable all the time.

Then again, perhaps there are a couple of universal best practices that are applicable to just about every project, process, technology, etc.  If so, what would these be?  I borrow from a post by Phil Fersht from the best outsourcing blog out there.  In it, he comes up with 5 worst mistakes for outsourcing that I think can be distilled down into a couple of key thoughts.  His five mistakes go something like this:

  1. Poor communication to key staff
  2. Failing to weed out the dissenters
  3. Not involving HR
  4. Not involving IT
  5. Not using a good adviser

Therefore, I distill into the following universal best practices:

  1. Change Management.  This is from mistakes numbers 1 and 2.  However, I’d carry it out much further than simply doing good communications and getting the right levels of support.  I’d want to make sure that we are getting the right messages across including making sure everyone understands the strategy and goals behind the change, and helping people understand why we need the changes and why it’s good for the organization and hopefully for the individual as well.  I’d also want to make sure that as much as possible, we’re driving towards changing key behaviors to make the project successful.  Lastly, I want to make sure my change management tasks ensure the highest levels of overall adoption once the project is completed and live.
  2. Good Governance Models.  This is from mistakes numbers 3 and 4.  It’s not just about getting the right people involved, but also about being inclusive so that you can make good decisions.  Basically I could care less about involvement.  That’s just something that happens to happen when you have a good, defined decision-making process.  Broadly defined, it’s about governance.
  3. Strategic Planning:  It’s absolutely critical that that any project you go through is framed with the overall strategic vision.  Then, each component and decision should be based on that vision.  Phil got many comments to his post.  Among them, someone mentioned that people should be aware that they should focus not on how much to outsource, but what processes make sense to outsource.  Often, it’s hard to get this point of view internally if your staff hasn’t been around the block hundreds of times in the last couple of years.  That stuff comes from consulting firms.  Consulting firms help define what the logical steps are and make sure the decisions you make fit in the overall strategic plan and cultural model.  Sure you can go it alone, but for some things, it sure helps to have someone else around.

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2 responses to “Universal Best Practices”

  1. Richard MacManuswrote an interesting post today on Here’s a quick excerpt Then again, perhaps there are a couple of universal best practices that are applicable to just about every project, process, technology, etc. If so, what would these be? I borrow from a post

  2. rick maurer Avatar

    While I understand the desire to weed out dissenters, I suggest that dissenters will tell you things that others are afraid to say. In other words, dissenters will tell the emperor that he (or she) is not dressed properly for the parade. I have heard dissenters tell the bosses about critical safety concerns. Others knew about these issues, but they never spoke up. Sound change management practices find ways to bring dissenters into the conversation, not to co-opt them, but to be influenced by their concerns.

    Rick Maurer
    Author, Beyond the Wall of Resistance