Are best practices evil?

Maddie Grant thinks they are, and she makes a good argument that, when slapped onto a specific situation without tweaking to make it fit, they could easily cause some evil things to happen. But is that the fault of the best practice? Or is it more the fault of someone who didn't use Maddie's definition of a best practice when it comes to best practices? (Does your head hurt yet? Mine does.)

The argument rang a faint bell for me as something I once had deep thoughts about. Sure enough, we had a good go-round on best practices a few years ago, and upon further reflection, I still stand now where I did then on the subject: On the shoulders of Jamie Notter, who said at the time,

"Seeing something out there that inspires you to do your thing better is fine. But 'best practices' is more than that. It is a mindset. Best practices are answers. When you go looking for best practices, you are looking for answers, and you are likely not spending enough time thinking about your questions…I think if you are clearer about your questions, then the issue of 'fit' and 'context' with the best practices that you come across will be more immediately apparent. Then what other people are doing CAN inspire your own innovation."

Some things you can adapt and adopt—to quote myself (definitely not a best practice!): Everyone wants “easy” without even adapting a form/template for their own work. Recreating the wheel isn’t always necessary; being smart and customizing is. Other things you need to start from scratch. Wisdom, methinks, lies in knowing the difference. Good luck with that!

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