Best practices are for the birds.
Remember when your mom asked you if you’d jump off a bridge if all your friends did? Nowadays you could get away with saying “yes” if you explained that jumping off the bridge was a “best practice.”
Look, I’m all for seeking out wisdom and learning from others who are doing things well. But I’m beginning to see “best practices” morph into a fancy way of saying, “tell me what to do so I don’t have to think.” It’s become just as much a way of hiding as it is a tool for improvement. After all, no one ever got fired for following a best practice.
Best practices are the equivalent of paint-by-numbers: “Color these sections exactly the way we tell you and you’ll end up with a pretty picture that looks exactly like this.”
As I’m fond of saying, they don’t hang paint-by-numbers in the Louvre.
Innovation is a sexy buzzword these days. Everyone wants to be seen as innovative. But you can’t be innovative if you’re busy following best practices. Doing the same thing as everyone else is the opposite of innovation.
If you really want to be innovative, you have to find better practices. And the only way to do that is to try doing something different. Of course, it might not work. But…what if it does?
You can follow best practices or you can be innovative, but you can’t do both.
The head fake here is that this little rant seems to be all about business, but it’s really not.
It’s about life. The map is there for you if you want it. You can parent your kids, spend your free time, navigate your education, plan your wedding, celebrate holidays, run your campaign, decorate your home, or manage your finances according to “best practices.” If you want your life to look like everyone else’s, by all means, look around, watch what everyone else is doing, and do that. Frankly, that’s actually what most people want.
But if you are reading this, I suspect you want something more than for your life to look like a boring old paint-by-number that looks exactly like everyone else’s. In order to do that, you have to ignore the map and head off for parts unknown. That’s what “escaping adulthood” is all about.
The scary part is not that you don’t know where to head, because deep down, you actually do.
Making the decision to start; that’s the scary part. It’s also the beginning of a great adventure.