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How to Define a “Best Practice”. Michael J. Spendolini, Ph.D. President, MJS Associates KM World 2000 September 13, 2000. The Issue: Include a “Best Practices” Element in the Knowledge Base. Typical Client requestors Benchmarking applications KM database element Professional Associations

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how to define a best practice

How to Define a “Best Practice”

Michael J. Spendolini, Ph.D.

President, MJS Associates

KM World 2000

September 13, 2000

the issue include a best practices element in the knowledge base
The Issue: Include a “Best Practices” Element in the Knowledge Base
  • Typical Client requestors
    • Benchmarking applications
    • KM database element
    • Professional Associations
    • Strategic planners

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

why should we care
Why Should We Care?
  • The best-practice (BP) objective defines the exact nature of the information selected for inclusion
  • The BP perspective suggests a level of investigation to identify “qualified” information
  • The nature of information provided by contributors will be influenced by your definition of a BP
  • How an organization defines a “successful” information product will depend on it’s BP perspective

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

the challenge to identify a meaningful set of dimensions that define a best practice
The Challenge: To Identify a Meaningful Set of Dimensions That Define a “Best Practice”
  • Research objective:
    • Review existing formal definitions
    • Consult with “topic experts” regarding their perspective
  • Methodology
    • Literature review (on-line hits: 000s)
    • On-line survey of benchmarking experts and experienced practitioners (n = 428)
    • Telephone and on-line interviews with 40+ KM “experts”
    • Special emphasis on consultants who sell or promote a best practices product

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

initial impressions
Initial Impressions
  • There is nothing resembling a consistent and/or uniform BP definition or perspective
  • Several “definitive” definitions are being promoted, but they seem limited
  • The implications of the use of the term “best practices” are often ignored or not fully understood
  • An expedient answer is often desired and/or accepted
  • Consultants and subject matter “experts” exert a tremendous amount of influence on their client’s perspective
  • Many “clients” are not very demanding of their “consultants” (lack of “client savvy”)

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

project direction
Project Direction
  • Identify meaningful dimensions that could be used to define a “best practice”
  • Attempt to reflect levels of consistency and creativity
  • Assume that the majority of BP applications will not require or demand a consideration of all identified dimensions

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

process guided by a basic belief
Process Guided by a Basic Belief
  • That the identification and documentation of a set of BP dimensions can support several desirable outcomes:
    • Provide a common platform for discussion for data requestors and service providers
    • Help define the exact nature of a BP-related data set (input sources and data users)
    • Stimulate a more aggressive BP perspective in the marketplace
    • Support the notion of a “dynamic” database that is multi-dimensional and evolving

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

progress to date 5 core dimensions are proposed
Progress to date: 5 “Core Dimensions” are Proposed
  • 1. Type of information
  • 2. Level of Validation / Verification
  • 3. Geographical reach
  • Systems Impact
  • Environmental Considerations

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

1 type of information
1. Type of Information
  • Quantitative
    • Performance levels, costs, revenue, staffing levels, resource requirements, various ratios, etc.
  • Process
    • processes, technologies, org. structure, customer-supplier relationships, strategic decision-making approach, etc.
  • Strategic
    • Macro (org.-level) and micro (process level), the strategic planning process itself, environmental analyses, forecasting, growth projections, key business assumptions
  • Qualitative
    • Personal opinions, reactions, preferences

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

2 level of validation verification
2. Level of Validation / Verification
  • Evidence that information represents anything of a “special” nature
  • Often linked with special research effort to provide evidence of relative performance
  • Position of information on a continuum of performance
    • Practices
    • Working practices
    • Generally accepted practices
    • Recommended practices
    • Practices reflecting expert opinion
    • Practices reflecting absolute performance standards

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

3 partner or source relationship
3. “Partner” or Source Relationship
  • Refers to the “locus” of information – inward vs outward looking, level of “out-of-the-box” information represented.
      • Low level: “the usual suspects” – internal, competitive, members of existing networks, etc. No research required
      • Medium: non-traditional partners, but from similar types of environments (still a lot in common). Attempts to discriminate and seek high performers
      • High: Information from non-traditional sources. Selection is process focused as opposed to output focused.

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

4 geographical reach
4. Geographical “Reach”
  • Location in relation to one’s organization.
    • Low: “Best-in-class” or “Best-in-Cleveland”. In U.S. by region. In Europe, Asia, Middle East – by country
    • Medium: Outside of one’s immediate geographical area. For U.S., majority of sources are typically U.S. based. Outside of U.S., by region (e.g., Europe)
    • High: True global outlook. Proactive search. U.S. generally more conservative

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

5 systems impact
5. Systems Impact
  • Reasonable cost-benefit analysis
  • Consideration of actual costs of practices: transition costs, training, information systems, staffing, consultant, maintenance……..
  • Inter-relationship of cost, quality, time, etc. is considered
  • Long-term implications of cost-benefit
  • Consideration of internal/external customer-supplier effects

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

6 environmental considerations
6. “Environmental” Considerations
  • Special considerations that effect whether certain information is included or excluded for consideration
  • An effort is made to insure that processes are “transferable” in different organizational settings
  • Examples of environmental items:
    • Organization size, structure, global diversity
    • Regulatory environment
    • Market position
    • Union presence
    • Profit / non-profit status
    • Public vs. private
    • Supply chain factors
    • Customer relationships
    • Competitors
    • Technology use and applications

MJS Associates / KM World 2k

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