Positive Deviance vs. Best Practices

I am intrigued by the practice of looking at what is going right vs. what is going wrong – the premise of positive deviance. This works in training and development very well – especially when I am evaluating different programs and looking at different trainings. Beyond all of that I think in some small way, positive deviance awards those that are doing something right instead of giving all the attention to those that are failing.

I'm Not Actually a Geek

Over time, I’ve seen people write disparagingly about the use of best practices in innovation. A recent example of this comes from Paul Martin in Say ‘Best Practice’ again, I dare you. As Paul notes:

For me the term ‘Best Practice’ conjures up images of a race toward uniform mediocrity, led by those who follow the crowd.

I understand his position. It’s a version of fast-following in a way, where people do not take a fresh look at an activity. They just follow what others are doing. You may share his passion for banishing ‘best practices’. Although be careful there. Some things really don’t need innovation if they’re not critical to a company’s differentiation and growth. For instance, if there are best practices for closing the accounting books on a quarterly basis, what issue of mediocrity is there?

The issue with best practices appears to be:

  • It’s done by an organization with…

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About AlaskanID

Instructional Designer, Training and Development Specialist living and working in Kenai, Alaska

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