Business Article #4: For the Joy of Sharing

“Better Practices” to “Best Practices”

By Kritika Mahajan
Masters Student, Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab
India

I am a Social Sciences graduate, currently pursuing Masters in Political Science from Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab. I have experience in teaching students and employed my learnings for benefit of young minds. I consider myself an artistic person who loves to read, write, explore and learn new things. Interacting and communicating with people helps me to broaden my outlook. Being a Humanities student, I have a strong inclination toward observing my surroundings and embracing the joy of “ordinary” instead of “extraordinary”.


Foreword by Venkat
The dynamic nature of our life at physical level as coordinating organ systems to the cultural level as coordinating belief systems puts us in a framework of variable conditions. These conditions bring the richness in our experience, a broad variety of problems and a wide scope to explore ideas for solutions. Hence someone or something considered as ‘Best’ is just one dot in the continuum of an ever-changing life. One may argue and be tempted to label repeated success strategy/practice as ‘the best’ but upon closer look it would become clear that the repeated success is more due to alignment of the practice and strategy to the new condition each time. The bottom-line then is to be adaptive to the change in conditions – right from the strategy to execution. This in my view is the way we work at the biological level as well – to adapt better to the environment. For the same reason, it makes little sense to even look for something called ‘best’, leave alone to practice it. What remains in our control in the drive to adapt better is to look for means and ways to get ‘better aligned’ to the conditions – and as an organized group of people to a common vision as well.

Kritika Mahajan, in her insightful writing presents a wonderful analysis on the commonly used phrase ‘best practices’ and how it relates to success, outcomes and performance. Her writing is coherent and persuades us to rethink on our assumptions with regard to strategies on improvement. Replete with clear examples and references, this is a must-read for anyone working to improve themselves and the environment around.


Explore further on Kritika’s insights and a powerful strategy to bring new changes towards improvement for all.


“Better Practices” to “Best Practices”

Last year, on a bright sunny morning of summer, while skimming through the morning newspaper; I for the first time came across the news – the “Best Practices” handbook being released by an esteemed institution of NITI Aayog. Digging slightly deeper, I got to know that the document is a compilation of various efforts being undertaken in various states concerning different dimensions like health, education, financial inclusion, water security, and many more.

With passing days, afternoons, and countless evenings, the title “Best Practices” somehow got stuck on the walls of my mind. With no intention to dig deeper into the story behind choosing this particular nomenclature, I somehow started wondering – Why only “Best Practices”? What is this “Best Practices”? Where does it come from?

Though I sincerely respect the authenticity and credibility of all Government documents being released, being an avid reader and my love for writing often puts me up in an imaginative world where I look for innovative, creative, and alternative ways to present a particular set of information in my way. The same went with the catchy phrase “Best Practices”.

What are “Best Practices”?

The term “Best Practices” is commonly associated with the business world. It simply resonates with a set of practices that are supposed to be successful in most cases when applied. Alternatively, one can conclude it’s a half-baked cake that is the median of brilliance and a strategy that’s sure shot to work out. However, today the term has acquired a multi-dimensional meaning with its constantly expanding scope.

What makes them the “Best”?

Often heard the phrase “Practice makes a man perfect” beautifully and simplistically reveals the secret behind anything being the “Best”. In simpler terms “Best Practices” are best because they are efforts of countless days, months, and sometimes years as well. Such long persistence of any action strengthens the faith in its consistency to be successful. Just as an artist continues to paint to build that one masterpiece of his/her life, it is not the one single day or any one art piece that determines his proficiency. Several strokes he paints, the number of times he ends up mixing colors increases his sense of blending things he/she visualizes and ultimately paves the way to the creation of “Masterpiece”. Similarly, countless tests and trials make any practice acclaimed as “Best Practice”.

Examples of “Best Practices”

In the beginning, a reference to the NITI Aayog document started this entire thought process. Moving back to an authentic document, it mentions some successful examples of “Best Practices” that helped society at a deeper level. Here, I could recall a few.

  • “Pota Cabins” i.e. residential schools for children were established in the state of Chhattisgarh.
  • The “Dhara Vikas” strategy was adopted to create water security through spring shed development in Sikkim.
  • “Panchayat banks” had been established with the aim of financial inclusion in Jharkhand.
  • “Ghar Doghaanche Abhiyan” was started in Maharashtra emphasizing joint ownership of housing by husband and wife.

In terms of Business strategy, engaging workers, rewarding efforts, being vulnerable, seeking clarity, focusing on team effort and many more are some prominent acclaimed “Best Practices”. The list doesn’t go off here. There are surely many more “Best Practices” out there that are serving society up to its best possible extent.

“Best Practices” – Fallacy in Nomenclature

Author Malcolm Gladwell and Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos exposed the idea of narrative fallacy behind the term “Best Practices”. Acclaiming anything as “Best”, indirectly supports the “one size fits all” approach in this ever-changing world. Chasing a foolproof strategy to achieve success in any venture somehow backfires, as one fails to understand what works for one, might not work for the other. Success is never a result of any one particular single ingredient. It’s a culmination of a multitude of factors ranging from – ideas, associated people, infrastructure, technology, and risk appetite of an entrepreneur; all working in unison.

“Better Practices” to “Best Practices”

A small incident from school days often reminds me why being “Better” is not only important but possibly the “Best” option to go ahead with. During my school days, I could recall our English Exam used to have a writing section. It was something like an open canvas to pour our thoughts the way we want to. Most interesting of all was that even teachers used to welcome our thoughts with open arms. However, when we were supposed to be given remarks on the same, our teacher never used to give a full score in that particular section. Once I went straight to the teacher and asked ; “Ma’am why don’t you give full marks in the writing section? In other subjects, we often get full scores if all things written are correct?”

My teacher very politely responded, “Other subjects are different in orientation from this writing section. A few problems in life have rigid solutions. They remain the same. However, the writing section addresses ideas, thoughts, and solutions involving dynamism. There is nothing to be acclaimed as “Best”, instead, strive to look for “Better” alternatives to solve the same set of issues or even different ones as well. Moreover, getting less than maximum marks leaves a chance that you will work harder to improve and will come up with more innovative solutions in the future”.

From that day onwards, I solely believe that improving is much better than being stagnant with the title of “Best”.

Examples of “Better Practices” to “Best Practices”

Drifting away from preconceived notions and constant improvement creates a way for excellence. The world around us constantly propounded how with changing times, even the “Best” transformed into something “Better”.

Entire Western Political thought claimed as a footnote of Plato widened its scope with the incoming of various other eminent men of thought like Aristotle, Machiavelli, John Locke, J.S. Mill, and many more. While Plato emphasized a lot of wisdom, Machiavelli brought the egoistic, self-centered nature of humans to light.

Flipping through the pages of History shows how the quality of tools improved with changing times. From once being made of stones to later ones being made of metals, the quality improved over the period.

Incoming Globalization showed the world, how being connected is a far better choice than being isolated. In fact, in contemporary times, being called a “Globalized Economy” is more enriching than being called a “Limited Economy”.

Switching to digitalization is another good example of striving for something better every day. It not only saves time and energy but has associated benefits for the environment as well.

Word for Wise: Strive for Better, Build Better

Best Practices is a horizon hard to achieve. However, looking for something “Better” is something attainable that every individual can aspire for. Putting all eggs in one basket had backfired many. Hence, to sustain in long run, one must chase authenticity, strive for betterment, and seek clarity to build something better. Constant improvement will eventually come up with greater chances of leading as well.

To sum up the thoughts, even Maya Angelou once said – “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

By Kritika Mahajan
Masters Student, Political Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab
India


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  1. ‘Best’ Practices to ‘Better’ Practices

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Stuti Vashisht
Stuti Vashisht
September 6, 2022 2:25 pm

A wonderful read! Love the way the your notions are supported by personal experiences. Definitely gets better to best as the article proceeds.
Cheers girl! Proud of you ♥️

Kritika Mahajan
Kritika Mahajan
Reply to  Stuti Vashisht
September 6, 2022 10:13 pm

Thank you Stuti 😊 Delighted that you liked this piece of writing.🌸