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Don’t hide behind ‘best practices’ for business success — experiment!

todayApril 1, 2021 3

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Do you know how many times a month, or even a day, I hear the phrase ‘it’s best practice‘ from product and marketing teams that I work with? Too many!

It’s made me begin to wonder, is best practice actually a great strategic tool? Or is it simply a safe excuse to hide behind when there is a lack of drive to innovate?

Relying on best practices does not guarantee success. As we saw in 2020, what used to be best practice in 2019 was pretty irrelevant. And this year is another new story yet again when it comes to customer behavior.  

I’m not saying that best practice is no longer relevant — there’s still a right way to do things and a good way to do things — it’s simply a case that there are now more ways to do things. 

In my experience though, businesses often view ‘best practice’ as a tried and tested way of operating with the view ‘this is how we do things so this is how we will always do them.’ But I believe what we need now is a culture of innovation and experimentation — we need to focus on the future, not look back to the past.

So why are experimentation and innovation important? I’m going to state the obvious here… the world has changed, in many ways. And we can expect it to keep on changing. 

It’s changed not only the way consumers think, but businesses too. Therefore to not only survive, but to grow in a saturated market full of newly emerging companies and creative, driven startups, they need to lose the safety net of best practice.

In essence, to come up with something new and innovative, and to cater to changing customer behavior, you sometimes need to forget what you already know. 

Businesses should encourage ‘freedom to fail’

Take British Gas — a company that wouldn’t perhaps come to mind when thinking about innovation — for example. They managed to change this perception internally. They allowed for failures. 

British Gas selected a special team dedicated to developing a new piece of innovative heating tech. The group was completely detached from the British Gas ‘mothership’ — they were given freedom. A setup of this kind, especially in long-established companies, is still a rare gem to find, rather than common practice. 

This team embraced a ‘freedom to fail’ approach — initially developing an app for the remote control of heating and hot water. They went on to innovate further and created a multi-product app allowing the control of lighting and appliances too.

It’s pretty impressive, especially because you’ll most likely know its name: Hive, the thermostat kit. But what’s the moral of this example?

Credit: Hive
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