Best practice is all about the experience
Is best practice sharing actually possible? Certainly, by the number of times you hear the term bandied about in business conferences, you would expect the concept to be well rehearsed and successful. However, it is just not possible to reproduce the singular Apple success story, any more than it is to copy the ever evolving Amazon model nor the extraordinary IBM turnaround.
Sharing of best practices more often than not is an exercice that rarely bears any measurable fruit. At one level, this is because it would be rare to find business leaders who would be happy to proclaim that they are great copycats. Of course, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. And there are plenty of lateral reflections that are of great worth. Nonetheless, when passing idea into execution, the best practice is likely to fall flat. Like the child that needs to put its finger in the fire, the experience underpinning the operational activity is the real learning. And such is very hard to pass along effectively.
Digital best practices
The sharing of best practices in digital marketing is a whole other kettle of fish. When hearing about “the way I built a million fans on Facebook,” the underlying fabric of success is incredibly difficult to articulate, much less reproduce; unless that is, you spent $x million on television ads or Google adwords. Aside from anything, the real trick is getting engaged fans. Digital marketing is a fast moving feast. No sooner have you realized you are a success, the very factors that contributed to that success may have moved on, or even disappeared. Success in creating a highly engaged Facebook community, high conversion rates in eCommerce or powerful influence on Twitter rely on a dynamic cocktail of ingredients.
The sharing mindset
The reason why best practice sharing — especially in digital marketing — is stymied? Because the the results depend on the objectives, context (history, industry, economic environment…) and people. Even if objectives can be squarely copied, the remainder is unique. The key to best practice sharing is less about the content of the best practice itself, and more about the mindset of sharing. Within a company, when a proud subsidiary shares a best practice at the national meeting, the benefit to the attendees will depend heavily on the underlying organizational culture. What is the overall disposition of parties to want to share and to listen? That mindset is probably a much better predictor of success and the best practice itself.
The humility to accept your weakness
The necessary ingredient all too often missing is humility. The humility to say that I can learn from my peers, my “collaborators” (as they are referred to in French), my clients or even my team (who report into me) is a fundament to effective best practice sharing. In an era when paradigms are being undermined and what we learned at school — much less in the last 30 years of business — needs to be re-evaluated, organizations need to be in constant learning mode. To what extent does your organization exhibit and promote humility? Do the organization-wide goals & objectives reflect a generosity to give without expecting in return? Do the top executives listen demonstrate active listening skills?
Your thoughts are, as always, welcome.