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October 7th , 2020

Best Practices are Holding You Back

by

best prac·tice | noun

commerical or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective

This last week, I sat in a meeting with a think-tank team made up of capable, invested and determined-to-get-things-right-this-time-people. The question for this particular session was: what are the blue-sky ideas that you would implement if you had the power, authority and resources to do so?

10 minutes into our discussion it hit me... we were over-valuing experience and under-estimating our imagination. All I was hearing were best practices. Simple, low-hanging fruit, easy win ideas that honestly could be implemented simply by someone choosing to do it at a regular rhythm, with follow-up that involved collaboration with at least one other person. That's not to say they weren't great ideas. I just wasn't hearing them as original. 

Then I tossed out what I thought was the first truly blue-sky idea I'd heard all meeting: we need a magic harry-potter sorting hat that helps guide people to where they should be based on more than just logistics, ie, time, place, etc. What I was getting at is we need to lean into our creative strength and turn that weird but strangely accurate wizard hat into a digital product. That it needs to be so good, so precise and so well built for the long run that you can't deny how spot on it was in leading you to where you needed to be.

Have you ever tried to Google a question like this:

  • Tips for building a great website.
  • How much does a mobile app cost?
  • Keys to marketing that works.
  • Ways to skin a cat.

What do you usually get as results in your search? Stuff like this probably...

  • 7 Keys that Don't Work for Business Today
  • 12 Ways You Can Improve Your Website
  • 19 Essentials to a Great Mobile App
  • (According to most, there are 50 ways to skin a cat.)

They are all just 'best practices.' Even moreso, they are simply the average of what everyone else has already done. Here's the reality: you're never going to find innovation rooted in a best practice. We work with a lot of non-profit and church ministries which one-by-one are scrambling to figure out how to "do church." We hear it every week:

  • We're innovating by taking our program virtual. 
  • We've pivoted by having our community groups use zoom. 
  • We've got to do something new so we're meeting outside at the local park. 

You are not innovating in the 'new normal,' you are avoiding it. You are just trying to survive. There's nothing wrong with that, but stop lying to yourself (and others you know) by painting it has innovation/ reimagination.

Seth Godin, master marketer and IMO best choice of glasses-frames-fiting-face-shape I've ever seen, helped me see this for the first time a few years ago. It's definitely not a new or novel idea. But who would've thought flipping a picture of bats 'right-side-up' would be so imaginative. 

So here's the question for you this week: if you had the power, authority and resources - what would your blue sky idea be? Use your imagination.