Monday, 23 September 2013

There is no such thing as ‘best practice’.

'If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.'   
Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science, 1966.

A ‘Birmingham screwdriver’ is the one tool used by the lazy for all purposes – i.e. it is a hammer!  You are not a leader if you apply the same concept, methodology or technology to all problems.  In fact, if all you see is problems then you are not seeing opportunities.  Leaders see opportunities everywhere, even in the problems they face.  

Leaders have many tools in their box of tricks, not just a Birmingham screwdriver.  The non-leader will look for anything that looks like a nail so they can hammer it down – crossing off ‘solved’ problems, usually internal, from their to do list so that they ‘achieve’ more than others. A leader looks for opportunities to solve others’ problems, usually external, so that people – customers and staff – feel appreciated. They ‘do’ with people, not to people.

Beware the term ‘best’ practice.  ‘Best’ means there can be nothing better. A non-leader will latch on to best practice and apply it to everything in front of them that they can frame as a problem, like the man with the Birmingham screwdriver.  A leader will always believe in ‘good’ practice but will also always look for a new tool, a new collaboration, a new idea to make it better.

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