21 July 2009

Best Practices - NOT

At the Social Media conference last week, several people mentioned they were looking for "best practices." These were inevitably the same people who also insisted on the importance of "thinking strategically" when it comes to social media.

It seems to me that both sentiments have the same root. Namely, both are expressions of a modernist worldview, in which rationality can supply all our needs and activities can be optimized. I'm just not sure this worldview stands up to reality. It makes sense logically, but experience tends to disprove it. When that happens, we can't blame the world for not living up to our theory (but Strategic Best Practice advocates often seem primed to do just that).

Best practices are someone else's best practices. We should use them for illumination, not imitation. We should reflect on them, not just copy them. And strategic thinking is all fine and good if we mean intentional, thoughtful consideration of our eventual objectives... but not if it means locking down those objectives before we even begin.

2 comments:

dcwork said...

I see the element of modernism in terms of believing there are universal principles, that "best practices" are possible.

But I think there's also an element of pre-rationalist cargo-cult/halo effect thinking here in some or many people who are seeking/using best practices in an uncritical fahsion. What evidence do we have that "best practices" really are best? What warrant do we have of their effectiveness?

Don C.

The Dan Ward said...

Great observation, Don - there is indeed a bit of the cargo-cult thinking going on with this Best Practice Fetish.

It boggles the mind...