Performance Management Blog

Beware Best Practices, They Can Kill Productivity, Innovation and Growth – Adopt Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter

REALLY?? Best Practices can KILL productivity, innovation and growth?

Someone wrote that as an article in Forbes (online) — it tries to make the point that access at work to Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn will be the kinds of things that will allow organizations to excel. He says, in part, on “The Best Practice myth” that “… companies continue using “best practices” as a tool to stop technology, and productivity improvement, adoption.”

Not using “best practices” is what will save us from poor long–term organizational performance, apparently. It attempts to make the link to the issues of using PCs in the 1980s and that companies that used best practices stayed behind the curve on improvement… The use of “Best Practices” in this article is just so limited and constrained, not at all what most of my peers in our old “behavioral performance management and productivity improvement” groups would even remotely label as such.

When there was that Big Push for ISO 9000 and the like, the drive to document everything was a real impediment to any kind of workplace innovation, since the requirement was viewed as keeping all processes uniform — the irony was that quality was NOT a requirement, just consistency. It was a real dead duck in regards to improvement and innovation and large forces of internal accountants were driven to keep control.

It is like that old ISO 9000 joke about the guy and the dog and the automated factory… The guy’s job was to feed the dog and the dog’s role was to keep the guy from touching anything…

I think that a workforce focused on using real behavioral Best Practices would be continuously and intrinsically motivated to keep looking for new alternatives for improvement. Innovation will come from understanding what the exemplary performers are doing differently than all others and rolling out those behaviors to the rest of the workforce. THAT is a Best Practice, I think. Not resisting innovation. People have always been looking for innovations where they work:

People have always been looking for better ways to do things

People have always been looking for better ways to do things

The old Quality Guys used to talk about having done Continuous Process Improvement.

The irony of that was that they focused on COMPLETING that job. I would rattle their brains by always reminding them to do Continuous Continuous Improvement, that advice from The Department of Redundancy Department.

Continuous improvement of any kind should be a continuous improvement. Using behavioral Best Practices should mean that there are always new Best Practices around for people to integrate into their performance repertoires to improve results.

In my cartoon vernacular, we talk about the reality that the Round Wheels of Today become the Square Wheels of Tomorrow. Ya gotta just keep on putting round wheels on the wagon to keep making progress forward…

See some cartoon stuff and some articles and my Godzilla Meets Bambi animated cartoon on innovation at


For the FUN of It!

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Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

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Dr. Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of the amazing Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine team building game and the Square Wheels facilitation and engagement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced global presenter. -- You can reach Scott at and a detailed profile is here: -- Scott is the original designer of The Search for The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine teambuilding game and the Square Wheels® images for organizational development.

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1 Comment

  1. Amit Suvarna

    Most best practices are so strictly rooted in policy that innovation does take a back seat; and so does taking risks. During my brief stint with working in corporate houses, I’ve noticed that many managers confuse URGENCY with IMPORTANCE and vice versa. The same case exists with SERIOUSNESS and SINCERITY. Both are used to churn more (not necessarily better) outputs, out of employees. That said I am a big fan of your quote “Don’t just do something. Stand there!” And most Best Practices don’t have much room for that, do they? ^_-


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