Neil Tambe

Husband, Father, Citizen, Professional.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Best Practices

The world we live in tells us to study what has worked in the past, and repeat it over and over. And over and over. We try to find the best ideas and transplant them to other circumstances.

This is efficient, but I think it can be dangerous, because being a "best" practice doesn't mean the practice is any good at all. It's very possible that the "best" practice could be the best out of a set of utterly awful practices.

So, it's very possible that I'm being overly cynical here, but let's take a step back to see what a world of best practices looks like (i.e., today's world). We have tons of income inequality, and our natural habitat possibly has irreversible damage which will cause perplexing and debilitating climate change. Trust in a decent amount of institutions is really, really low. Narratives are fear based and consumption-driven. Does this sound like a world where "best" practices have been applied? Would we want to replicate practices from the world we live in at all?

I see two ways out of this. One, we could start being a lot more critical about how we apply "best practices". Two, we could start combing for "right" practices in which we comprehensively understand the true costs and root causes of the problems we're trying to solve and we do the right thing - with original thinking - to make the situation better, learning from other's experiences only where applicable.

Both are important. I'm willing to bet you $20, though, that almost nobody is trying to find "right" practices. 

I'm really skeptical of reports that rattle off "best practices." I often find that not much thinking goes into them. Best practices seem to sweep complexity under the rug and claim to be simple, while a right practice would embrace the complexity of a situation and recommend something simple to change the dynamics of the system.

That, however, would take actual thought.