Best Practices – Be Watchful!
One reason why consultants are engaged (and may actually be worth the money) is that they work on the same topics for several different clients and, therefore, possess what is usually called best practice expertise (“practice” spelled with a “c” in the middle). By bringing in consultants, clients can not only bridge a temporary shortage of labor without having to hire full time employees (FTE) – an option which in half socialist countries like Germany, France and Italy always carries the risk that, for legal reasons, these FTE cannot easily be set free again, even if the workload returns to normal. Besides representing a flexible extension of the workbench, consultants, due to their best practice expertise, usually also bring with them the knowledge and skills necessary to execute the tasks at hand in the most effective and efficient way. However, some best practices are, indeed, no best practice at all. I do not know whether or not the spelling mistake in the word “PRATICE” (sic!) in the illustration shown above is intentional or not; probably, it’s just a typo which could easily have been corrected. But the fact that it hasn’t been corrected and that the illustration still is being sold in image libraries goes to show that, once something (a procedure, a text, an idea…) has been created and becomes established, it is hard to change it again, even if it contains an error. Ironically, I found (or rather made) exactly this mistake useful for my purpose. So at least in my specific case, the designer achieved his objective of selling the illustration in spite of the error it contains, though I assume that my usage remains an exception, and that most customers looking for an illustration of best practice will not purchase this particular example. It goes to show that small things can have large effects. While the rest of the image is very well done and contains a lot of nice elements, everything, the whole illustration, actually becomes worthless because of one small mistake. The same holds true for best practices at large: It is not enough to know a best practice – one must also be able to put it correctly into practice. Organizations hoping to benefit from best practices must be watchful – not only when hiring people, but also throughout the whole implementation project.