In the latest (April 2010) HBR, C.K. Prahalad has a column titled “Best Practices Get You Only So Far”. In it he essentially echoes our own writing in Value Acceleration (and in published papers for several years prior). To put it in a folksy way: chasing best practices means that you’re always watching the rear end of the dog in front of you. In fact, you want to be the lead dog.
You may need to get your organization up to best practices, but only on the way to surpassing them. Making best practices your goal insures that you are always using yesterday’s techniques to achieve yesterday’s results. It’s the seeking out of new management techniques before your competitors use them that gains competitive advantage, not merely competitive parity. See pages 39-40 for a more detailed discussion of this theme.