I think we can all agree that AEC leaders and their firms like to do their best. It’s the nature of those in the industry, right? So, the question is, “what is best?” Is it best in services, or best in business? Which comes first?

No two firms are alike and they are guided by unique principles– core values, if you will. Throw in business innovation and you, for sure, have a one-of-a-kind approach to projects that stand above your competition. Or, at least that’s what your clients hope. This doesn’t mean you don’t use guidelines– it’s just that they’re particular to your organization.file0001608140472

In a post I wrote a few months ago titled Strategic Execution– What 4 things must you do to “make it so,” I explained how one engineering firm where I worked encouraged employees to submit proposals as a means to expand the business.

This firm used business innovation to execute its strategic plan. They empowered staff to put forth their own ideas without restrictions. For selected proposal proponents, professionally delivered education and coaching programs were provided to build business skills. Energy and enthusiasm exploded and every proponent and initiative became an important and successful investment. This is a very different approach than a group of senior managers who lock themselves in a room for a day and generate their own strategic plan for the rest of the company. The first approach is empowering and the latter is controlling. See the difference?

As technically minded professionals, we tend to get lost in Best Practices. There is a place for Best Practices, such as quality control, proposal standards, go/no-goes, a contract risk review program, or design document development. We like these kinds of programs as they are easy to grasp and the outcome of their development has clarity. For our business to be successful, it is even more important to create a culture of business innovation. It takes practice, but by exposing technical staff to business ideals and methods, and to show them how Best Practices are an outcome of these business innovations and strategies, a culture that supports long term goals can be achieved. Thus, “do your best” can be understood as “do your best at achieving long term business goals.”

In “The Myth of ‘Best Practice,’” Bernie Siben shares his thoughts on why firms must figure out their own set of rules and processes. He says that firms need to have a “workable go/no-go thought process in place”— which levels the playing field among staff and results in better decisions in what projects to choose.

My advice– be unique, stick to your values and create your own best practices that deliver the best in business innovation.

Do you see struggles between Best Practices in terms of service delivery and Best Practices in support of business health? Share one observation or experience with me.  I will respond.  dreed@fostergrowth.biz