Next Practices: How to Get to What Happens Next

Every organization flaunts their Best Practices. But, outstanding Companies define Next Practices – those things that set them apart in the short-term and define the standard of excellence for the long-term.

All of my strategy, culture and organizational design work over the years comes down to one thing – enabling my clients to differentiate themselves from their competitors so to dominate the markets that they serve. Consequently, the topic of industry best practices always comes up. Most leaders want to be sure that their organizations are remaining competitive within their industry. While the desire appears sound in principle, it’s flawed by design.

The fact is the adoption of industry best practices will only let you run with the pack. But, defining and adopting Next Practices will enable the breakthrough thinking needed to disrupt and redefine your markets. My firm has developed a framework for doing this. Let’s take a look at the 5 principles that makes up the framework needed to define your Next Practices.

1. Drop the de-facto culture and develop a Culture By Design: Don’t copy; create. Culture is a strategic imperative that must be created and transformed by design not by default. Be deliberate in creating a work environment that enables and empowers your team to achieve and exceed your firm’s vision.

2. Embrace your difference and focus more on offense than defense: Think opportunity management, not risk management. Think strategic investment, not cost containment. Know what you do better than the rest and use those leverage points to redefine the game.

3. Invigorate velocity by working past implementation concepts and focus on delivery strategies: Implementation is process, delivery is advantage. Establish a business mindset that believes in agility, velocity, and high impact delivery – impeccable product and service delivery has the power to differentiate your firm from all the rest.

4. Don’t just play the game, keep scoring: Move from long implementations to quick wins. Put points on the board and then look to score again. Velocity and momentum matter. Beat your competition on the future by setting the pace of play and exceeding your customer’s expectations.

5. Drive direction-setting and change through omnipresent leadership: Strategic success depends on critical mass commitment not forced compliance. Setting expectations is gamesmanship – aligning them is leadership. Be sure that your leaders understand your direction and are aligned with it. When leaders are aligned, they can be counted on to make the “right” decisions most of the time.

To close, this framework is only the beginning of doing the work that is needed to differentiate your firm from your competitors so you can dominate the markets that you serve. However, understanding and embracing this framework is essential to driving deep the changes that make a difference into your organization. Businesses that strive to do this are the ones that set the standard of excellence for everyone else. I hope that you consider leveraging this model when working to redefine how you do what you do.

NOTE: This piece was originally published by INC. on August 15, 2016.

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