Best Practices And Other Innovation Killers


Best practices are tested, well developed guidelines based on experience.   In marketing there are best practices around website layout, copywriting, social media marketing—you name it. Know them. They help take the risk out of business.

Yet, I bristle at the phrase “best practices” because when I hear it, I know that’s where the process ends. Someone else has figured it out, so why should you go through the trial and error yourself?

Best practices are a map and by definition, a map is not going to get you to new territory.

That’s why best practices are the enemy of innovation. Don’t be limited by them.   Don’t let them be an excuse for thinking. Don’t let them define your work.

Somehow I don’t imagine the term “best practices” being key to the operations at companies like Apple, Nike, Virgin, BMW or Facebook.

You don’t become innovative by looking at what everyone else has done and shooting for that.

The concept of best practices is like the idea of “keeping up with the competition.”  You’re essentially copying. Innovative business is about creating a future that wouldn’t have otherwise existed.  You do it by trying new ideas and learning from failure.

Here’s a way to jump start your creative process.

There is an extraordinary experience called C2-MTL, the Creativity & Commerce event in Montreal this May where I don’t anticipate hearing these phrases. It’s a conference like nothing you’ve ever attended. Speakers include Sir Richard Branson, Diane von Furstenberg, and Phillipe Starck, along with leaders from companies like IDEO, Whole Foods, BMW, GE and Tom’s Shoes.  C2-MTL is an opportunity to be immersed in the possibilities of business, not the standards.

Having enthusiastically written about last year’s conference, I was asked to be an ambassador this year and I can offer a 10% discount if you email me at Ilana221 (at)  I can guarantee you that you’ve never been to a conference like this before.

I hope to see you there.


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