Don’t hide behind ‘best practices’ for business success — experiment!


Do you know how many times per month, if not per day, I hear the phrase “this is best practice” from the product and marketing teams I work with? Too much!

It made me start to wonder if best practices are in fact a great strategic tool? Or is it just a safe excuse to hide when there is a lack of will to innovate?

Relying on best practices does not guarantee success. As we saw in 2020, what was once best practice in 2019 was not really relevant. And this year is yet another new story when it comes to customer behavior.

I’m not saying best practices are no longer relevant – there’s always a right way to do things and a right way to do things – it’s just a case that exists now After ways of doing things.

However, in my experience, companies often see “best practices” as a proven way to operate with the idea “this is how we do things, this is how we always will do it”. But I believe what we need now is a culture of innovation and experimentation – we need to focus on the future, not look back.

So why are experimentation and innovation important? I’ll say the obvious here… the world has changed, in many ways. And we can expect that to continue to change.

It has changed not only the way consumers think, but businesses as well. Therefore, not only to survive, but to grow in a saturated market full of new emerging companies and creative and driven startups, they must lose the safety net of best practice.

Essentially, to come up with something new and innovative and to respond to changing customer behavior, sometimes you have to forget what you already know.

Businesses should encourage the ‘freedom to fail’

Take the example of British Gas – a company that might not come to mind when thinking of innovation. They managed to change this perception internally. They allowed failures.

British Gas has selected a special team dedicated to the development of an innovative new heating technology. The group was completely detached from the British Gas ‘mothership’ – they were given freedom. A facility like this, especially in long established businesses, is still a rare gem to find, rather than a common practice.

This team took a ‘freedom to fail’ approach – initially developing an app for remote control of heating and hot water. They continued to innovate and created a multi-product app to also control lighting and appliances.

It’s pretty impressive, especially because you probably know its name: Hive, the thermostat kit. But what is the moral of this example?

Credit: Hive