How to define a best practice
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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”

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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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