Wait! Before you call out the angry mob with the torches and pitch forks allow me to explain:
I think the concept of best practices is absolutely fantastic. It allows members of different communities (IT or other) to find out what is considered the best way to perform a task. Whether that task is to create a form letter informing users of an opportunity or building a SharePoint environment (*ahem*, like this one), knowing the best methods to accomplish that need is extremely important, so no, I am not against best practices. I am actually against the term\phrase “Best Practice”
Away With Best Practices
I hope the pitchforks have been put away and the torches doused. Let me explain a bit further. Bear with me as I freely admit that this is completely subjective. The problem I have with the term best practice is in what it implies. When you think of the word “best”, what comes to mind? For me it is this is the highest level we can achieve. This is the only way that we should do it and nothing else can replace it. And there-in lies the problem. If it is the only way something should be done ever, how can we improve? In IT we know the best way to do something changes constantly. Sometimes within days (a bit extreme I know, but it has been known to happen).
Let’s add a bit to this. Another common thing heard is “current best practice”. So if it is current, then that means it is expected to change. But if it is the best; how can it change? See where I am going with this?
What Should We Use Instead?
I am not a word smith. I spend most of my day writing code or configuring systems to make a user’s experience better. However, since I have brought this up I should at least provide a suggestion of an alternative. I personally prefer something like Leading Practice. To me this implies, this is the way things should be done now, but there are also other great ways to do it or with time better ways could be found. It encourages people to think, “this is good, but perhaps there is a better way”. It doesn’t encourage people to think it shouldn’t be used. To me it instills a sense of confidence in the method without causing people to believe it will always be the only way.
Let me know in the comments what you think? Do you agree? Am I out to lunch? Do you have a suggestion for a descriptive phrase besides Leading Practices?
Thanks for reading!