Best Practice Sharing Modes
How can I facilitate the sharing of best practices in my organization? TIAS professor of Strategic Leadership Ron Meyer presents an insightful tool to kickstart your thinking: Best Practice Sharing Modes.
In organizations, a practice is a way of doing something – a method or technique to achieve a specific result. By extension, a best practice is a currently accepted superior means of getting something done. It can be the best in an organization, an industry or even the world.
Best practice sharing is the process of communicating a superior method from one person, unit, or organization to another. It requires the identification of the best practice (knowledge capture), some mode of handover (knowledge transfer) and acceptance by the best practice receiver (knowledge acquisition). For more, see the Knowledge Sharing Bridges (model #23).
The Best Practice Sharing Modes framework outlines twelve commonly used ways to transfer best practices, grouped into three main categories. For each of these twelve best practice sharing modes, two examples are given of tangible ways of sharing – you could say these are 24 best practices of best practice sharing. All examples can be used separately or in parallel to achieve effective sharing, depending on the setting and type of practice being shared.
The three general categories and twelve specific best practice sharing modes are the following:
1. Supply-Driven Transfer
If someone has knowledge of a best practice, they can seek to spread it to others by proactively communicating their message using:
a. Presenting. They can broadcast using the spoken word, by giving a presentation to a management team, performing at a conference, or even sharing a taped video.
b. Publishing. They can also broadcast via the written word, articulating the best practice in an article, book, company manual, magazine interview or online newsletter.
c. Teaching. They can also transfer by acting as an instructor, packaging the knowledge into a training, workshop, simulation, game, or online course.
d. Advising. They can also directly suggest what the receiver should do, playing the role of expert and/or consultant, or just championing a particular best practice.
2. Interaction-Driven Transfer
Best practice supply and demand can also be brought together by organizing settings that encourage interaction, such as:
a. Meetings. People can be connected by staging events in which best practices can be showcased, such as an annual forum, knowledge exchange and award ceremony.
b. Brokering. People can also be connected via matchmaking, using a commercial broker, internal knowledge catalyst or an online platform to match supply and demand.
c. Mentoring. People can also be connected more structurally via dedicated learning relationships, such as using a master-apprenticeship system or internships.
d. Communities. People can also be connected to learn via dedicated exchange groups, such as expert networks, interest groups and professional associations.
3. Demand-Driven Transfer
A third approach is to actively assist individuals and/or organizations to search for best practices themselves, using one of the following modes:
a. Asking. They can be helped by making it easier to ask a directed search question, by having a helpdesk, digital query system (“who knows…”), search engine or chatbot.
b. Researching. They can also be helped by making it easier to investigate which best practices exist, by offering a taskforce with research capacity or a consultant.
c. Linking Up. It also helps if they can be brought into contact with a best practice supplier, using a company directory, who’s who overview or someone’s personal network.
d. Looking Up. Alternatively, it can help to quickly find the best practice itself from an overview, using a best practice database or an index on the company intranet.
• Best practices are actually better practices. A method or technique is a best practice if it is a superior way of doing things than is currently used by others. It doesn’t have to be literally “the best”, but just better than what is commonly used and therefore worth adopting.
• Best practices can be shared. People can try to slowly reinvent the wheel themselves (learning by doing) or can copy practices that seem to be working elsewhere (learning by sharing). To share, best practice “suppliers” and “receivers” need to work together, to identify what the best practice is (knowledge capture), hand it over from supplier to receiver (knowledge transfer) and let it land with the receiver (knowledge acquisition).
• Best practices can be pushed, pulled, or exchanged. Sharing can be pushed by people who think they have valuable knowledge (supply-driven transfer) or be pulled by people looking for best practices (demand-driven transfer) or exchanged by people brought into connection with one another (interaction-driven transfer).
• Best practices can be shared using twelves modes. Within each of these three general categories (supply-, demand- and interaction-driven), there are four best practice sharing modes – these are the mechanisms used to facilitate the knowledge transfer. Each mode is still generic (“teaching”) and needs to be mobilized in a tangible way (“training course”).
• Best practice sharing modes are complementary. The Best Practice Sharing Modes framework offers a checklist of potential ways to facilitate sharing. Each mode can be used separately, but as they are complementary, can be combined into a sharing strategy.
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Best Practice Sharing Modes is part 54 of a series of management models by prof. dr. Ron Meyer. Ron is managing director of the Center for Strategy & Leadership and publishes regularly on Center for Strategy & Leadership.