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By Tom Gordon, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager 

Following in the footsteps of others and adopting their best practices is sort of like chasing your own tail – you are hoping their way of doing things, which were specifically made for their situation or dog breed, will be the same solution for you. What if the root of the problem wasn’t that your dog didn’t respond to the training practice but that the dog you picked wasn’t the right fit for you?

When considering the notion of investigating and implementing best practices from another, we turn to an analogy that most can relate to:

You think it’s finally time to get a family pet. In this case, it’s a dog. You want a friendly dog on the larger size and your significant other wants the complete opposite. You lose and come home with a YorkiePoo (you know, one of those new hybrid breeds) because you both fell in love with it when you gazed into her sweet puppy eyes.

After a week with the new puppy (let’s name her FooFoo), you complain to your neighbor about some of the issues you are having. They share all their tips on how they trained their exceptional and well-behaved Labrador Retriever. You try them all—and your new dog fails every single one. What is the problem here?

Following in the footsteps of others and adopting their best practices is sort of like chasing your own tail – you are hoping their way of doing things, which were specifically made for their situation or dog breed, will be the same solution for you. What if the root of the problem wasn’t that your dog didn’t respond to the training practice but that the dog you picked wasn’t the right fit for you?

dog with glasses and best practices Missouri Enterprise

To examine and apply the best practice of another organization is essentially to implement what they did yesterday; if you implement someone’s best practice you will only, at best, be the same as them. Really, the true best practices are trade secrets, which last time we checked, are not being handed out like candy.
Inherently, there are two major problems with attempting to implement another’s best practice:

1. What works in one organization cannot be transplanted to another, even if the ‘other’ is part of the same business group or sector. The reason is obvious. The prevailing culture; each organization, or indeed sub-organization, has a culture which is unique to them. To try and impose a methodology on an organization that is neither ready nor able to work with it is the path to disaster. For example, there are too many instances of ERP implementations failing – like 95% - for there to be any argument about this.

2. The other major problem is tied up with the cultural aspect and that is discipline. “Not invented here, therefore we shall not do it” is the mantra of passive resistance. People will, under the wrong circumstances, almost move the earth to prevent them from doing something that they do not want to do. Change is the most difficult thing to achieve in any organization. There must always be an element of the iron fist in the velvet glove. As Scott McNealy said, “Get used to it!”
Does all this mean that we must wallow in mediocrity? Absolutely not, we can always change the packaging! However, if the focus is upon FUNCTION not form then the PlanDoCheckAct Tool forces an organization to look at wasteful practices and understand why they are in place. Planning to resolve the issues requires a vision of the Ideal Final Result [IFR] and establishing metrics that will indicate the progress to that result. Taking actions and checking the result of these actions against the IFR requirements is the disciplined path towards success. Acting to continually improve will drive the organization further on.

At Missouri Enterprise, when we work with companies to solve problems, we treat them as unique situations so that we can be creative in coming up with solutions. Because Missouri boasts one of the most diverse manufacturing communities in the country—there is not a challenge that we haven’t seen. So—bring on your chihuahuas, YorkiePoos, Labradors or Chinese Crested (yes, this is a real pooch) problems, and we will work to make the best fit solution for you.

Connect with your Area Business Manager to learn more!

Read more Problem-Solving blogs:

Form and Function – what is important?

The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ)